Pipe Relining Blog

Trenchless Technology - What is it?

Trenchless Technology - What is it?

Trenchless Technology, or "No Dig" as it is also known, sounds like some sort of industry jargon, but what exactly does it entail. Is it simply putting a camera down a pipe or does it involve more than that? Let us take you through exactly what it means to us.

What is trenchless technology?

Trenchless Technology - let's start with a definition

According to the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (www.nastt.org), it is:
"A family of construction techniques for installing or rehabilitating underground infrastructure with minimal disruption to surface traffic, businesses, and residents. Also includes technologies for inspection, leak location, and leak detection with minimal disruption and minimal excavation from the ground surface."

So in other words, it is the ability to repair stuff that is underground without having to dig it up. In our case, the stuff would be underground pipes. So read on to find out how we fix a blocked drain without digging it up.

The evolution of Trenchless Technology

Before we had trenchless technology, if you had a blocked or damaged pipe, you really only had one option. That was to dig it up and replace the damaged or blocked section. The first problem here was trying to find out where the damage or blockage was. After all, you don't want to have to dig up the entire pipeline if it is only a small section that has the problem. The second problem was that digging up a pipe under a lawn or similar isn't too much of a problem, but what if it is under a driveway or even worse, your house. In these instances, the Plumber would have used a Jack Hammer (or Similar) to break up the concrete etc to allow them to start digging. Can you imagine the mess in your lounge room?

The Flexible Rod

The first step in Trenchless Technology would have been a bit of flexible rod (or similar) that the Plumber could push down the pipe to try and locate where the blockage was. Then it was just a matter of working out the direction the pipe ran and pacing it out. Now start to dig and hope you got the direction right.

This obviously didn't help work out where cracked or broken pipes were unless there was something there for the rod to push up against.

Plumbers Eel
Plumbers Eel
for unblocking drains

The Plumbers Eel

The next step in Trenchless would have been the Plumbers Eel. This was a flexible cable with a Bit on the end that was manually pushed down the pipe until it hit the blockage. It was then rotated so the Bit could break up the blockage. Just hope that there aren't too many bends in the pipe or the blockage is a long way down.

The problem with this was that it could firstly damage the pipelining and cause future issues and secondly, there was no way of knowing if the problem had been fixed fully, or even what caused it to start with.

Drain Camera to view blockage
Drain Camera
to find Blockage

The Drain Camera

Now we're getting serious with the technology side of things. The Drain Camera is a camera at the end of a cable that is pushed down the pipe allowing the Plumber to see the state of the pipe and exactly what is causing the blockage. It can also be combined with a Detector that is used above ground to locate exactly where the camera head is, so if you need to dig it up there is no more guess work.

As technology has improved, so too has the Drain Camera. We now have the simple Push Rod Drain Camera, which is perfect for small pipes, all the way through to large Crawler Drain Cameras that are driven down large pipes. These both also have controllable camera heads so the Plumber can move it around to get a full 360 close up of the pipe.

The Water Jetter

Around the same time as the Drain Camera, we also got the Water Jetter. This is simply a pipe with a special nozzle on the end in which we send water down under pressure. This high-pressure water is used to break up most blockages. The benefit of this over the Plumbers Eel is that being a small diameter, flexible pipe it is easier to push through bends in the pipe and will not cause the same amount of damage to the pipe lining.

Now the Water Jetter is great for soft or semi-hard blockages, but what if the blockage is something a little more substantial, like a large tree root?

Unblock Drains with Robotic Cutter
Unblock Drains
with Robotic Cutter

The Robotic Cutter

The Robotic Cutter is a cutting head on the end of a cable or pipe. This is pushed or driven down the pipe to the blockage and a high-speed cutting head can cut through most things, from tree roots to concrete and steel.

Now we're getting serious and there really aren't too many blockages that we can't remove without the need to dig up the pipe.

Pipe Patching and Relining

Once we'd worked out how to identify problems and remove blockages, we really needed a process to fix the problem so it wouldn't happen again; all without having to dig up the pipe. Meet Pipe Patching and Relining.

Pipe Patching and Relining is where we push a special fibreglass and epoxy lining down the pipe to where the problem is and use it to line the inside of the pipe; essentially creating a new pipe inside the old pipe. The technology allows us to reline a small section or an entire pipeline, from a small drain pipe all the way to a full-size sewer pipe. There are also different methods to do this.

Leak Detection

Last, but not least, is leak detection. This allows us to test a section of pipe to see if it is leaking.

Reline Solutions are experts at Trenchless Technology for all Drain Pipes, from small domestic drains through to large Council sewer pipes. So if you have a blocked drain and don't want the hassle and mess of digging it up, give us a go.

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