Six Steps to a Better Pipe Burst

When a customer’s sewer or water line fails and needs to be repaired, they generally want the least expensive repair method. In some cases – namely when the pipe is completely collapsed – that will be a dig-and-replace project. Absent a complete collapse, in many cases, a trenchless approach can be taken that will leave them with an upsized pipe and little to no disruption to their property. Enter the pipe bursting method.

Are you thinking about adding pipe bursting to your services? Maybe you are new to the process, or you’ve added a few new crew members. Here are some tips to help you better understand the process and complete a burst successfully.

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pipe bursting

Gaining Access

Start with doing utility locates per state laws. Excavate to a depth of 2-in. below the existing pipe. Inside the home or building you will need to remove any concrete to gain access to the line that you are replacing. Watch out for building footers as they are the biggest enemy in pipe bursting.

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Run Rodder and Measure

Always try to get the length of the pipe to be replaced. We add 3 ft to the measurement of the line from inside the building to the face where the pipe is cut. This is to prevent the pipe from being back pitched at the final connection. Tape up the bursting cable to the rodder and pull it into the sewer line.

Fusion Time

Make sure the hot plate is up to temperature and the reamer is free from debris and its blades are sharp. Set the pipes to be fused into the fusion device. Ream the face of the pipes until you have a smooth ring of shavings on both pipes. Clean the outside and inside of the pipes with a clean rag. Set the hot plate into vice and push both pipes together until it touches the hot plate. Now you will heat soak your pipe based on pipe type and temperature of the hot plate. Once heat soak is done, remove the hot plate and squeeze both pipes together. Do not over squeeze or you will create too big of a bead on the joints.

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setting up bursting head

Set up Bursting Head and Duct Puller

Wipe off the first 12 in. of the cable with a rag and insert it into the bursting head. Twist the locking mechanism clockwise to get the jaws to grab the cable inside the head. Pump grease into the bursting head to prevent any debris from entering the head while bursting. Mount the duct puller onto the bursting pipe and twist the mechanism clockwise to get it to bite the pipe. Hook the bursting head and duct puller together.

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Set up the Bursting Machine

We found the best place to set up a bursting machine is inside the house. It has the most stability for the pull and is the safest for the operator. Set the base of the cribbing 2 in. below the bottom of the pipe inside of the building. Use 6x6s for support and additional framing for building walls that need more support. Set in the wheel puller and then the pumps. The next step is making sure the cable grippers are clean from debris. Set the upper and lower cable grippers in bridge, locking in the cable to be pulled. Hook up the hydraulics and get ready to pipe burst.

pipe bursting

Pipe Bursting!!!

Make sure there is communication from the bursting machine operator and other members of the crew. Start the burst by setting the bursting head into the pipe to be replaced. Create a C-shape laying your bursting pipe towards your machine to help reduce pipe drag and increased pressures. Communicate pump pressures with your team. This will let you know if you are starting to burst through any bends or hit any deviations such as concrete or footers. The crew member outside needs to communicate length of pipe so the operator has an idea of how much is left, until the head is at the cribbing.

Following these steps will help ensure you have a successful project and in turn a happy customer.

John Gribble is the field manager for Pronto Plumbing.