Pipe Bursting: The true long-term renovation of mains

Pipe Bursting is a trenchless technology used to replace existing mains such as water and sewer. Pipe Bursting replaces the need to trench along the entire route. The only excavation required is for the launch and receive pits as well as the excavation needed to re-connect each house onto the new main.

UEA specialise in two methods of pipe bursting, Pneumatic and Hydraulic. Both methods involve feeding either cable or rods through the existing pipe which is attached to an expander head. The expander head is pulled through the existing main which ‘bursts’ or ‘cracks’ the pipe pushing the broken pieces into the surrounding soil to create a larger void. Polyethylene (PE) replacement pipe of the same or larger diameter is pulled in behind the expander meaning that in the one process, the existing pipe is broken and replaced with new PE pipe.

Depending on the product that the existing main is made out of, blades or cutting rollers can be added in front of the expander head. Products like Vitrified Clay (VC) will break with just the expander head whereas Cast Iron (CICL) will need the blades to make the initial cut. For harder materials like Ductile Iron (DICL) cutting rollers may be needed. These blades and rollers also help in making sure that the break in the existing pipe is central and the new pipe will be pulled in within the same alignment and depth.

Pipe bursting technology can be used to replace size for size, slip lining smaller diameter pipe or upsizing to a larger diameter pipe. To learn more about Pneumatic and Hydraulic Pipe Bursting visit the UEA Technical Centre.

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