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Types of Trenchless Methods and How They Are Used

Types of Trenchless Methods and How They Are Used

A pipe bursting in at home can be any homeowner’s worst nightmare. You have to watch repair experts tear up your yard as they work on the broken pipe. But thanks to modern technology, there are trenchless methods. You can get a broken pipe repaired with various pipe-less ways, and in this guide, we’ll dig into the types of trenchless methods and how they are used.

Why Go Trenchless?

Using trenchless methods whenever possible is beneficial to most everyone. Homeowners like it because trenchless methods won’t destroy landscaping, so your home can remain beautiful. Trenchless methods don’t disrupt traffic or anyone’s way of life when done in urban or other public spaces.

Trenchless methods are also beneficial to construction workers because they’re much safer. However, techniques requiring workers to dig out a trench also involve entering the trench. This often means risking safety, as tools could fall on workers or the trench could collapse. Luckily, there are trenchless methods for both repairing and replacing pipelines.

Trenchless Repair Methods

Experts use a couple of different techniques to repair a damaged pipe since replacement isn’t always needed. The type of repair could vary due to necessary maintenance or pipe bursting, mechanical spot repair, and cured-in-place pipe—these are just three of the many options experts may turn to for the job.

Pipe Bursting

Workers use this replacement method to dig a hole and replace old or broken pipes without digging a trench. Experts often utilize this method in urban areas since it will not disrupt everyone living in the area. After boring, they remove the broken pipe in pieces.

How It Works

To utilize this method, you’ll need a few tools:

  • An expander head
  • Pulling rods
  • A pulling machine
  • A retaining device

Each of these helps you complete this trenchless job. For instance, the expander head goes into the damaged pipe and pushes outward to break it, making removal easier. Workers then remove the pipe in pieces so a new one of the same diameter can replace it.

Mechanical Spot Repair

Sometimes, pipes break in specific areas, and a complete replacement is unnecessary. In these cases, construction workers will utilize mechanical spot repair. This works for fractures, cracks, breaks, and even collapsed sections.

How It Works

Before jumping in and repairing a pipeline, workers need to use specialized devices to inspect it. A mechanical device with a camera goes into the pipe so workers can see what and where the problem is. This also clues them into whether repair truly is the best option.

Cured-in-Place Pipe

During this repair method, a liner goes inside of a pipe, as it can withstand the elements and helps to reinforce a pipeline. But before inserting the liner, workers insert tools to clean the pipe. Industry experts agree that this method is ideal when repairing stormwater drains and sewers.

How It Works

Workers install a liner into a pipe by using manholes as points of entry. Since they may use various materials for the piping depending on the situation, the installation process can also be different. Sometimes, water or air pressure works to insert the tube into the pipe. Since contractors often use resin for the liner, workers apply hot water or steam to harden the material.

Methods Used for New Installation

Pipelines don’t always exist where we need them, so experts may use various methods to install new channels. Two of the most used and trusted techniques are mini-horizontal directional drilling and microtunneling. But keep in mind that these aren’t the only techniques used for installation.

Mini- Horizontal Directional Drilling

Experts use mini-horizontal drilling to install pipes with a small diameter, but they could still measure up to 600 ft long. Moreover, these contractors often use this for polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), steel, and copper piping for water, gas, or even cables.

Before using this technique, workers may need to check the ground type, as this method is ideal on a rocky surface.

How It Works

At the start of this process, workers use their tools to dig a pilot hole, then stabilize it before beginning the installation process. However, when drilling the hole and installing the pipe, workers will need to locate obstacles they may encounter—specialized tools help with this.


This is another commonly used trenchless method that causes little ground disturbance and doesn’t require personnel entry. Since working inside the trench comes with various dangers, construction methods are quite beneficial. Interestingly, microtunneling has some similarities with another installation method known as pipe jacking.

One benefit of microtunneling is that it works for almost all pipelines, so workers can install it with ease if it’s larger in diameter. Also, unlike mini-horizontal directional drilling, microtunneling works whether the ground is hard or soft, but it also works below a water table.

How It Works

During microtunneling, workers use machines to dig small tunnels but do so from a control room, as machines often have cameras. They can install up to 200 ft of piping on an ideal day and may use either the slurry system or the augur. Usually, the slurry system works best in urban areas but is also great when experts need to work below a water table.

Pipe Jacking

Pipe jacking works to install both pipes and casings, and like microtunneling, it works for larger diameters. Many in the industry will use this to install larger and longer lines below railways and roads.

How It Works

Pipe jacking drives the pipe into the ground, hence the name. Tools such as a hydraulic jacking frame help in the excavation process. After removing soil, they lower sections of pipe into the ground, where workers made tunnel connections.

Understanding the types of trenchless methods and how they are used gives you a better idea of what work you should expect at your home or business. There are many trenchless methods for repair and replacement that experts may utilize. The technique used often depends on the piping problem and location.

If you need industry experts to repair your waterlines or sewage system, contact Complete Trenchless, a trenchless sewer repair company for both home and business owners. If you suspect there’s a problem with your underground pipes, we’ll get water flowing properly once again!

Types of Trenchless Methods and How They Are Used

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