plumbing pipes

Pipe Relining Vs. Replacement

Has your home recently developed a serious blockage or a burst pipe? A plumber might suggest relining sewer pipes or pipe replacement through drainage excavation solutions to solve your plumbing problem. But what are these plumbing methods? And which one is best for you? With over 25 years of experience of pipe repair, we’re breaking down pipe relining vs. replacement for you.

What is Drainage Excavation?

Drainage excavation used to be the only method to repair broken and damaged pipes. This pipe replacement method is often used for severely blocked pipes when traditional methods haven’t worked. With pipe relining becoming available, excavation isn’t always required now thankfully.

First, your plumber assesses the site to ensure gas and electricity lines are not disrupted. The blockage must be precisely located so only the necessary area is dug up for pipe replacement. A pre-excavation assessment ensures the pipe replacement process is more efficient and less disruptive.

Now, the digging begins. Depending on how deep the pipes are buried, safety measures must also be installed around the site. Excavator machines can be used, but quite often it is safer to dig by hand. Digging by hand is also be less disruptive.

When the site of the blockage or damaged pipe has been excavated, it can be removed and replaced with a new pipe. The pipe can be repaired, however, it won’t be long before the problem will reoccur and it will need to be dug up again. This is why we recommend replacing damaged pipes with a new one, rather than pipe repair.

Drainage excavation requires a whole team of plumbers and can take a few days to complete. Moreover, your garden is dug up and the landscaping ruined in the process. On top of paying for a costly excavation and pipe replacement, you’ll also be up for landscaping costs to get your garden back in shape. These reasons are why we often find pipe relining wins out in the pipe relining vs replacement debate.

How Does Pipe Relining Work?

Despite being available for a few decades now, sewer pipe relining is still a relatively unheard of plumbing method for pipe repair. Drainage excavation requires a team of plumbers to dig up your yard to locate the damaged pipe and replace it. Pipe relining, however, is a no-dig method for pipe repair. Only a small entry hole is required to access your pipes by a pipe relining specialist.

Pipe relining is a more cost-effective method to repair broken pipes from the inside out. An epoxy resin-covered tube is inserted into the damaged pipe and inflated. When the inflated tube is flush with the pipe walls, the resin adheres to it. This forms a hard protective coat inside the damaged area of the pipe and seals it. Your pipes are just about brand new!

Before inserting the inflatable tube for pipe relining, the pipe must be cleaned out. Your plumber might use an electric drain cleaner or a hydro jet for this step. CCTV drain cameras are used to inspect the pipes to ensure they are ready for pipe relining. With the tube inside and inflated, the resin must be left to cure. When the resin is cured, it has hardened and formed a seal on the inside of the pipe.

Is Pipe Relining Worth It?

When comparing pipe relining vs. replacement, pipe relining has a lot of benefits going for it and is an excellent method for pipe repair. From cracks to tree root damage, pipe relining can repair it all. It is more cost-effective than pipe replacement by drainage excavation and can be completed in a day for most cases.

Only a small access point must be dug, meaning pipe relining is far less disruptive to your garden and landscape. It’s also an especially useful preventative method. Homes with old pipes can have pipe relining done before major structural issues occur. To top it off, the life expectancy of pipe relining is between 20-50 years depending on the material!

If pipe relining is so good, why do we still offer drainage excavation then? For all its benefits, pipe relining won’t work in all scenarios, and so pipe replacement by excavation is still required from time to time.

If the pipe has been severely damaged or even crushed, pipe relining can’t save it. The damaged pipes must be excavated and replaced with a new pipe. Similarly, if there is a stubborn blocked drain that can’t be removed, the pipe relining tube can’t be fit inside,  rendering it useless. Significant pipe alignment issues also cannot be repaired with pipe relining.

Both pipe relining and drainage excavation are costly plumbing jobs and so are only recommended as a last resort. Where possible, we recommend pipe relining first as it is more cost-effective and will minimise disruptions to your home.

The next time you need to discuss pipe relining vs. replacement, contact Metropolitan.

Published: 27 Jul, 2020

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