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Trenchless Sewer Line Replacement: Revolutionizing Traditional Plumbing Techniques

Dec 20, 2023 | Blog

In the ever-evolving world of construction, trenchless sewer line replacement has emerged as a revolutionary technique. This method, ideal for repairing or replacing underground pipelines, offers a less invasive alternative to traditional excavation methods. This article aims to demystify trenchless sewer line replacement for professionals in the construction industry, providing a thorough understanding of its mechanics, equipment, advantages, disadvantages, and safety considerations.

What is Trenchless Sewer Line Replacement?

Trenchless sewer line replacement is a method of repairing or replacing underground sewer pipes without the need for extensive excavation. This technology allows for the repair or replacement of pipes with minimal disturbance to the surface above, including landscapes, driveways, and roadways. It’s particularly advantageous in urban areas where traditional excavation can cause significant disruption and damage.

How It Works

The process typically involves two primary methods: Pipe Lining and Pipe Bursting.

Pipe Lining

Also known as Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP), this method involves inserting a flexible, resin-coated tube into the damaged pipe. Once in place, the tube is inflated, and the resin is cured using heat or UV light, forming a new pipe within the old one. This method is suitable for pipes with minor damage.

Pipe Bursting

For severely damaged pipes, pipe bursting is more appropriate. This method involves pulling a new pipe through the old one while simultaneously fracturing the old pipe outward. This technique is ideal for replacing pipes that are beyond repair.

Equipment Required

For Pipe Lining:

  • Liner material (flexible tube coated with resin)
  • An inversion drum or air pressure system to insert the liner
  • A curing system (hot water, steam, or UV light)

For Pipe Bursting:

  • A bursting head attached to the replacement pipe
  • A hydraulic or pneumatic pulling machine to draw the new pipe through the old one

Pros and Cons

Like most things, there are advantages and disadvantages of this technology:


  • Minimal Disruption: The most significant advantage is the minimal surface disruption, preserving landscaping, pavements, and structures.
  • Cost-Effective: It often proves to be more cost-effective than traditional methods due to reduced labor and restoration costs.
  • Time-Saving: The process is quicker, reducing the time taken to complete sewer line replacements.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Less excavation means less environmental disturbance and reduced carbon footprint.
  • Flexibility: Suitable for a range of pipe sizes and materials.

Trenchless sewer line replacement, while offering significant benefits like minimal excavation and quicker completion times, also has its disadvantages:

  • Cost: Trenchless solutions can be more expensive upfront compared to traditional methods. The specialized equipment and technology used in trenchless repairs often contribute to a higher cost.
  • Limited Applicability: Trenchless methods are not suitable for all situations. They may not be feasible for severely collapsed pipes or pipes with extensive damage. The existing pipe layout and material may also limit the applicability of trenchless techniques.
  • Potential for Damage: If not done correctly, trenchless repairs can lead to damage to nearby utilities. Accurate mapping and identification of existing underground utilities are essential to avoid such issues.
  • Quality Concerns: The longevity and effectiveness of trenchless repairs can vary. Some methods, like pipe lining, reduce the internal diameter of the pipe, which can impact the flow rate. There’s also a risk of the lining material not adhering properly to the existing pipe.
  • Limited Inspection Post-Completion: After a trenchless repair is completed, inspecting the work for quality assurance can be more difficult.

Growth in the Trenchless Pipe Replacement Market

Trenchless pipe replacement technologies, such as trenchless pipe rehabilitation, relining, and repair, are indeed growing in popularity. The global trenchless pipe rehabilitation market was valued at $4.12 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to $6.48 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8%​​. Additionally, the trenchless pipe relining market is expected to rise at a CAGR of 4.7% during 2023-2028, reaching approximately $6.3 billion by 2028​​.

This growth trend is consistent across different segments of the trenchless technology market. For instance, the trenchless pipe rehabilitation market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.9% over the next five years to reach an estimated value of $7.2 billion in 2028​​. In other words, trenchless pipe repair would be an excellent service to offer.