Understanding Trenchless Technology

Trenchless pipe repair and rehabilitation technology like CIPP and others is the new best way to repair broken or outdated pipelines. In this article, we will delve into the basics of trenchless technology, its history, and the many methods involved in the process. As one of the single fastest-growing methods of rehabilitation in the industries of plumbing, civil engineering, and construction, this technology deserves to be understood.

What is Trenchless Technology?


At its most basic level, one can define trenchless technology as the repair of pipes including sewer and water pipes without digging continuous trenches to expose the pipeline. It has its own set of methods, its own specialized equipment, and its own materials. All of these can be used to repair an underground pipe network without the extensive upheaval of soil and buildings.

While in the past, trenchless technology like CIPP was only used in larger applications like road construction and sewer drain repair, the 21st century brought a few changes. The demand for methods to reline pipes on a smaller scale rose, so the technology was adapted to suit these requirements.Today, an engineer can monitor the entire process, from the quality of the resin used to re-line a pipe using CIPP.

Methods Used and Applications


There are two applications in which trenchless technology can be used – installing new pipes and rehabilitating older ones. New pipes make use of methods like mini-horizontal directional drilling and micro-tunneling, among others. Rehabilitation uses CIPP and methods like pipe bursting instead. Both of them are ultimately non-destructive when compared to traditional methods used for these applications. The methods used are below:

  • Mini horizontal directional drilling – this is a method for installing small pipes that are quite long (usually 300ft) at shallow depths (up to 15ft). All types of pipes can be installed using this method. Common applications include water and cable installation.
  • Microtunneling – this is another trenchless installation method that is quite advanced. A laser-guided, remote-controlled pipe jacking system is used to install pipes of varying diameters. Pipes of up to 1500ft can be installed like this in soil conditions like clay or rock. Depths of up to 100ft below the ground can be reached using this.
  • Pipe bursting – this replacement method is used in congested city areas and suburbs to minimize traffic disruption. An existing manhole or access point is used. The old pipe is split open by dragging a bursting head of larger diameter through the length of old pipe. New piping is dragged behind the head to replace the old one.
  • CIPP – CIPP is a sewer pipe rehabilitation process where manholes and other existing systems are used to repair the pipes from inside out. A lining material is used to reinforce a faulty pipeline before it fails. The CIPP liner involves a tube made of fabric coated with resin that can adhere to the existing pipe and harden under heat.
  • FFP – Newer than CIPP, the FFP process involves installing plastic re-liners that are folded up and sent into the manhole. The liner is folded up into a tiny area so that it can enter any diameter of pipe. Once in the desired location, hot water or steam is used to heat the material up, causing it to expand and round out until it fits snugly with the existing pipe. This is also a rehabilitation process.

Trenchless technology is quickly becoming the method of choice for governments and private businesses alike. With methods like CIPP, pipe bursting, and horizontal drilling, allowing for precise, non-destructive, and efficient pipe installation, replacement, and repair, traditional trenching methods will soon be obsolete. It is important that you understand the potential benefits of trenchless technology and incorporate it into your own operations.