If you are having problems with your sewer line or your septic tank line, you may have to call a plumber to figure out what could be wrong with your drain lines. There are many tools that the plumber can use to find out what is wrong with the sewer line including drain cleaning machines, high pressure water jetting machines and a sewer inspection camera. Then when the line has been determined to need replacement they can replace the line with something called a pipe bursting machine.
The pipe bursting machine is one of the best options for the replacement of an existing sewer line and this process that plumbers us this machine for is called pipe bursting. A licensed plumbing contractor using this method to replace a sewer lateral will excavate and expose the old pipe which is connected to the septic tank or the city sewer system in two locations then pull the new pipe between those locations without additional digging.
The starting point would typically be in the street where the plumber would locate the sewer lateral (the sewer line from the house to the city sewer line in the street) that connects to the city sewer or your septic tank like we mentioned above.
The other hole would be either just outside the foundation where the line exits the house, or, in the basement just before the line exits the house. A strong steel wire rope cable is pulled through the sewer lateral between those two points. A cone shaped bursting head is attached to the cable along with the new polyethylene pipe which is attached behind the cone shaped bursting head. At the other end a hydraulic puller is placed which takes hold of the cable and pulls it with great force in a series of short strokes. Typically speeds are in the area of 10 – 15′ per hour. The cone shaped bursting head goes through the old sewer line expanding it over the cone until the old pipe bursts creating room for the new High Density Polyethylene Pipe (HDPE) to be pulled through the ground where the old pipe was. Lengths of the HDPE pipe are joined together using a plastic welding process that creates a new seamless one piece sewer line with no joints that can leak or, be penetrated by roots. Once the line is pulled through between the two holes the connection to the house and the city sewer is reestablished and the line has been replaced.
There are some limitations to using the pipe bursting process:
The first is the line has to be in good enough condition for the cable to be pulled through the line.
Pipe Bursting will not fix a sag, or, belly. The bursting head and new pipe follows the path of the old pipe.
Rocks, ledge and some other conditions may jam the bursting head preventing it from passing and still require excavation to complete the job.
Some bend configurations may not allow pipe bursting as the bursting head may exit the pipe and get stuck requiring excavation.
The company doing the camera inspection and the Pipe Bursting should be able to determine is these conditions exist in your line and whether or, not your line is a feasible candidate for pipe bursting. However, they will not be able to see everything as their view is only from inside the pipe so there is always some risk that unseen circumstances may prevent complete success with the operation and require excavation to complete the job, but in most cases pipe bursting works quite well.