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Over time, both residential and commercial sewer lines can deteriorate significantly. Stresses from both underground and above-ground sources can cause sewer pipes to crack, break, or become clogged. When these troubles develop, the usual solution has been to dig up the sewer lines and replace them completely. This option, while effective, can be expensive, inconvenient, and destructive of landscaping or other surface features. Pipe relining may be the better option for those who don't want a lot of digging done on their property.

What is Pipe Relining?

Pipe relining is the process of fitting the inside of a sewer line or other drain system with a newer but smaller diameter pipe. In essence, it involves putting another pipe inside the existing one, then routing all drainage and sewage movement into the newer pipe. This technique allows an almost complete pipe system replacement with minimal digging and limited disruption to yards, parking lots, sprinklers, landscaping, buildings, or other surface features. Pipe relining can be effective for pipes as small as about 4 inches in diameter or larger drain systems up to about 5 feet in diameter.

How Pipe Relining Works

Pipe relining works by introducing another pipe, or series of pipes, into the existing sewer line. The new pipe is usually a felt-lined, epoxy-coated flexible pipe or tube. It is fitted into place either in one long piece or in segments. A inflating device is inserted into the pipe to expand the new pipe liner and make sure the epoxy bonds it to the inner surface of the old pipe. A video pipe inspection is usually performed to ensure the new liner has been properly placed and that there are no problems with the relining.

Benefits of Pipe Relining

  • All the quality of a new pipe: The replacement creates a new drain line that is as clean and efficient as an entirely new system, even though the old pipe is still buried underground. The newly installed pipe should perform as well as, and for as long as, any pipe put in by any other method.
  • Some added protection: Because the new pipe is placed inside the existing drain line, it will likely receive some added protection from the old pipe surrounding it. This will not protect it indefinitely, but should help reduce the effects of ground movement and contraction, tree root growth, and other forces that can damage pipes.
  • Convenient replacement: Complete replacement of drain pipes can be done without the digging, trenching, or destructive procedures.

Alternatives to Pipe Relining

There are alternatives to pipe relining if the process turns out to be beyond your or your customer's budget or otherwise unacceptable as an option.

  • Complete replacement: Sewer pipes can be completely replaced, but this requires significant amounts of digging to get access to the existing clogged or broken pipes. By the time the holes are dug, the pipes replaced, and the new pipes buried, the cost may be more than that of a relining.
  • Pipe auguring: Pipe auguring involves placing a sharp object, usually a cutting head on a length of flexible cable, into the sewer pipes to physically break up clogs, tree roots, or other obstructions. This can effectively clear pipes temporarily without much disruption, but it won't be helpful if the pipes are cracked, split, broken, or detached.
  • Hydrojetting: Hydrojetting uses high-powered jets of water to scour away clogs and blockages. Hydrojetting is powerful enough to blast away tree roots and other stubborn obstructions. Again, this is an effective way to get temporary clearing, but tree roots are likely to grow back unless they are stopped by chemical treatment. Hydrojetting also will not help with damaged pipes.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on the benefits of pipe relining, or to view projects we've worked on, visit our website!

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