Understanding Trenchless Technology

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Trenchless pipe repair and rehabilitation technology like CIPP and others is the new best way to repair broken or outdated pipelines.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.

Three Problems CIPP Fixes Permanently

From being cost efficient to environmentally friendly, Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) technology has many advantages.  Perhaps one of the most important features is the pipe problems that CIPP fixes permanently.  Repairing pipes can be extremely costly and disruptive.  If faced with any of the following problems, choose CIPP for a permanent solution. 


Corroded pipes do more than break, they deteriorate until they dissolve and pervade the soil around them.  For instance, the heavy metals the pipes are made of spread into the soil along with anything carried through the pipe. Because of this, harmful chemicals saturate the soil.  Using CIPP to fix a corroded pipe prevents toxic chemicals from leaking into the ground.  Using an epoxy or hardened resin that does not break down when in contact with certain chemicals protects your property and the areas around it.  CIPP fixes corrosion permanently by relining the whole pipe. 

Leaking Pipes

Leaking pipes can be very expensive to repair, when using the traditional method. For example, the ground is dug up, and landscape demolished, in order to repair the pipe at the location of the leak.  This process is time consuming: time waiting for the repair to be completed, time that you may be without water, and time to repair your landscape.  Furthermore, if you experience a pipe leak and only the leak is repaired, there is always the possibility of another pipe leak.  Using CIPP technology, Advanced Pipe Repair uses seamless, durable pipes that last for many, many years.  By lining the entire pipe rather than just repairing the leak, this CIPP fix ensures the leak does not recur. 

Emergency Pipe Repairs

As with leaking pipes, the traditional method of pipe repairs in emergency situations is a temporary solution to a permanent problem.  CIPP provides a flexible, permanent repair in the event of an emergency.  Capable of handling several types of pipe emergencies, CIPP is a less expensive repair method as well as a less invasive one.  If one of your pipe bursts, you will not be listening to backhoes nor watching your yard be dug up for several days.  An emergency pipe repair prompts quick thinking and fast decisions.  Choose CIPP for a durable, resilient solution to prevent another emergency from occurring.

Fix Your Pipes Permanently

The above CIPP fixes are just three of the permanent solutions CIPP technology provides.  Intrusive tree roots causing problems can also be stopped without killing the tree via CIPP technology.  For more information, contact Advanced Pipe Repair 800-468-7668, or fill out the Quick Contact Form and we will promptly respond. 


Who Invented CIPP?

The history of CIPP is an interesting tale, even though the answer to who invented CIPP is actually a short one. Unlike many of our modern inventions, CIPP can actually be traced to one man who invented the first ever cured in place pipe system. Its progress and the standards that he set for CIPP ensure that no one will forget who invented CIPP as long as this flexible, useful method of pipeline rehabilitation is around. 

The inventor

The man who invented CIPP isn’t a household name. He put the first cured in place pipe into the ground in London, England, in 1971. Eric Wood the inventor of CIPP, named his method  insitu form. This began cured in place piping’s entrance to the world. Of course, it would be a few years before it made any headway into the mainstream United States market. 

What does insitu mean

CIPP is a recent name for the process. CIPP stands for “cured in place pipe”. It’s a very good description, as the pipes go into the ground as flexible cloth tubes covered in epoxy or resin. Then heat (and sometimes light) is used to cure the tube into a strong, solid pipe. 

Insitu form embodies the same idea. Eric Wood used Latin to create a name for his new method of pipe repair or replacement. “Insitu form” means “made in place”, more or less. This name captures the spirit of CIPP. However, the name is less common for a couple reasons. First of all, the English terms are easier to understand and say, especially for the average person. Additionally, as the process has been refined over the years, some of the mixtures used today aren’t exactly the same as the original methods. 

The progression to the USA

CIPP was invented in 1971, but the man who invented CIPP didn’t bring it to the United States immediately. He didn’t even apply for a patent in the United States until 1975. It was another two years before the patent office granted it. In 1977, Insituform Technologies was formed to handle CIPP installation in the United States. Until the patent ran out in 1994, Insituform Technologies was the only CIPP company in the United States. Once the patent expired, other companies began to not only use, but also work on the CIPP technology. The man who invented CIPP probably didn’t guess that his long-lasting, durable product would be in such high demand forty plus years after it was invented. 

Residential and commercial use of CIPP was popular in Europe and Japan in the 1970s, but it took Insitu Technologies a few years to get it off the ground in the United States. The surge in popularity that CIPP has enjoyed for these past decades started in the 1980s in the United States. 

Eric Wood is the man who invented CIPP. His pipes are strong, durable, and easy to repair. Since the original patent has expired many companies have started putting these great ideas to work. Many residential and commercial buildings are better off for it! 

Cost Breakdown for CIPP

The cost breakdown for CIPP varies from state to state, and even town to town. The estimates depend on the availability of common materials, and even the local sales tax. It’s not possible to speak to the individual cost breakdown of each CIPP project, without knowing all the details. However, it’s possible to compare the cost breakdown of CIPP to the cost breakdown of traditional pipe repair along the lines of labor, materials, and longevity.


Labor is a huge percentage of the cost with traditional pipe repair. Digging trenches, physically removing the old pipes, and installing the new pipes is a very difficult process. You’ll have to pay to bring in a large crew for several days. Labor is often the majority of the cost for traditional pipe repair. 

Cost breakdown for CIPP is a bit different. CIPP is less labor intensive than traditional pipe repair. It doesn’t look like it; CIPP still involves experts and a significant labor cost. However, the cost is much less than traditional pipe repair. Additionally, there’s very little labor once the pipe has been installed. Cleanup is a quick process. 


The price of materials is a large consideration in traditional pipe repair, but it’s where much of the cost of CIPP comes from. The cost breakdown for CIPP is heavily weighted towards acquiring the materials. For example, the flexible cloth sleeves that are coated in resin and inserted into the pipe have to be custom made for your pipes. The resin itself is also a significant cost. 

Traditional pipe materials vary widely. Some are much cheaper than CIPP, and some are only a few dollars per foot cheaper. It depends on what you really need. In almost every case, the material cost favors traditional pipe repair. The question becomes whether it’s enough to offset the greater costs in other areas. 


The cost breakdown of CIPP includes longevity. How long something lasts plays greatly into how expensive or inexpensive it really is. Buying a new $10 coffee pot every month isn’t actually cheaper than buying a $100 coffee pot that lasts for ten years. Unfortunately, it feels that way when you’re at the register, costing you more money in long run. CIPP has a projected lifespan of approximately 50 years. Traditional pipe repair length varies with the pipes that you bought. Typically, however, you’re looking at twenty years before you have to replace your pipes. While still a significant amount of time, that 20 years is only half the lifespan of CIPP. You would be on the second set of pipes before your CIPP pipes break down.

The cost breakdown of CIPP shows that most of your money is going straight to your finished pipes. More of your money goes to the hardware that’s going to keep serving you for up to fifty years. With traditional pipe repair, you might save a few dollars per foot on materials, but you have to budget more cash for labor. The lifespan of your pipes also won’t be as long as CIPP installation. 

How Can You Clean CIPP Pipes

A blockage in your cured in place pipes doesn’t have to be a disaster. If you’re wondering how to clean CIPP, don’t despair. Handling cured in place pipes doesn’t have to be that much different than handling other types of piping. Keep these rules in mind while you clean up, and you’ll know how to clean CIPP. 

Hot water

If you have reason to believe that the clog is close to the surface and probably organic material, you can use the age old technique of pouring hot water down the drain. A fully cured pipe won’t be susceptible to heated water. This is especially true if you’re just sending down one kettle or pot full of water. If you’ve relined your sewer line or kitchen line, this could handle your problem entirely. If you notice back up, don’t keep trying; the blockage is withstanding the heat, and you’re just adding water to the problem.


If you have a surface problem, you can also try to plunge the problem out. Your CIPP system is able to withstand the pressure of plunging, so go right ahead. CIPP systems are not significantly more delicate. In some cases, a cured in place pipe might actually be stronger than the pipe that it replaced. Like the hot water cure, this is only going to help if your blockage is close to the surface. If you plunge a few times and nothing comes up, you’re probably going to have to call a local CIPP expert to take a look at your system. 

Use caution with chemicals

Most of the common cleaning chemicals are safe for use in your CIPP system. However, there are one or two that react with the plastic in your cured in place pipes. If you’re thinking of using a standard drain cleaner, reach out to your local CIPP experts first. They know how to clean CIPP, and will be able to inform you which chemicals work well on your own pipe. Due to the mix and match nature of CIPP and chemicals, there’s no fast and easy answer about which chemicals you should always avoid. It depends on the specific epoxy or resin used to install your system. 

No scraping

One thing that you (and any plumbers you hire) should never do is scrape the pipe. It’s a fairly common process to break up blockage by going into a pipe and scraping it. CIPP pipes are as strong as metal pipes in terms of pressure and flow, but they are more vulnerable to nicks and scrapes. A metal fan slicing through the blockage could also do damage to your pipes. Scraping your pipes is just one option. Your plumber or your local CIPP experts will be able to find an alternative. When you’re looking for how to clean CIPP it pays to investigate alternative methods of cleaning. 

In general, you can find out how to clean CIPP by looking at standard “how to remove blockages” posts online. Hot water and plunging are great for fairly close by blockages. If your problem is more severe, consult your local CIPP experts to either find a chemical cleaner or to find a plumber who works on CIPP. 

Has CIPP Been Tested Thoroughly?

No one wants to go out on a limb with their business. Before you commit to something as large as a pipeline rehabilitation project you want to know the facts. Have CIPP tests shown that it delivers on its promises? Has it been tested thoroughly? The answer is mostly yes--with the promise of even more good things to come. 

New technologies

CIPP tests have been very positive, but to find the exact results requires you to be a little more specific. Consider that cured in place pipes are just one type of trenchless technology. Within the subset of pipe relining via cured in place pipes, there are a few different commonly used versions. Each of these systems is constantly being refined and worked on. The process is not set in stone as of yet. This constant refinement provides better service, but doesn’t always allow for up to the moment, cutting edge research. 

Supported by government testing

The US government is one of the biggest users of CIPP. They also conduct most of the CIPP tests out there. CIPP is one of the only efficient ways to repair and replace large drains like culverts. It’s in the government’s best interest to be sure that they’re not just throwing good money after bad. These methods are periodically tested to see if they’re performing according to projections. 

In a recent report release in 2012 (very recent for government work), the EPA conducted tests on a series of pipes in Denver and another city to see if their CIPP was performing as projected. In all cases, the CIPP pipes were either on schedule for very close, even though some of the pipes were halfway through their projected lifetime (25 and 21 years, respectively.) This is very encouraging news. While the report did recommend a more widespread, comprehensive study, the case studies were highly encouraging. The government is continuing to use CIPP as its go-to for large, difficult to reach, or expensive to maintain piping. If projects remain consistent, that puts the average lifespan of CIPP around 50 years. 

There’s always more to know

CIPP tests have a history of coming back positive, but at the moment none of them are truly as comprehensive as we’d all like to see. The reason is simply due to the longevity of the pipes. You can’t know how long the functional life of a pipe is until that life has ended. Cured in place pipes have been widely used for thirty years, with some dating before that. That’s as many as twenty years less than the projected life of the pipe. How the pipes break down and how easy are they to fix will have to be established when there’s enough data of it happening to speak in generals. There’s always more to know. Given the positive results so far, most installers look forward with eagerness to comprehensive CIPP tests

All the data shows that your business is in good hands with CIPP. Tests indicate that CIPP does indeed, last a long time. Whether they’ll reach their full projected lifespan remains to be seen, but all signs point to yes.  Contact your local pipe lining specialists today.

Can You Reline CIPP Pipes Multiple Times?

Most businesses don’t want to find a fix that will work today. They don’t even want a fix that will work today and tomorrow. For a business, the best solution to a problem is one that will provide a precedent and accepted procedure. If your business is looking into using cured in place pipes to rehabilitate your pipes, you may be looking at the big picture. Cured in place will work today, but can you reline CIPP down the road? Will CIPP become standard procedure for your business?

CIPP can be used on almost any host pipe

For the short answer, yes, you could place a new cured in place pipe inside an older cured in place pipe, thus allowing you to reline CIPP. Among the two most common kinds of cured in place pipe technology (polyester and epoxy), a lot of host pipes are covered. You can use CIPP in practically any host pipe, including itself. If you absolutely had to, you could reline CIPP. 

CIPP’s longevity

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should have to. CIPP is built to last. Most CIPP installations have a bankable life of thirty years or more. This puts a major overhaul comfortably out of range. Most businesses like to have an overall business plan, but planning more than thirty years down the road seems like a stretch. By the time your CIPP needs to be replaced, we could all be living on Mars—or, realistically, you may have changed facilities. 

If you find that you need to replace your CIPP much sooner than you should, you should consider the way you maintain your pipes. CIPP will only last if it’s taken care of properly—the same as anything else. Take a look at what you’re pouring into your pipes and how you deal with blockages. CIPP shouldn’t be cleaned by scraping or scratching the interior of the pipe. If your business makes it impossible to care for CIPP properly, then just going for relined CIPP isn’t going to help the true problem. 

Flow constriction is a factor

One final factor in whether or not you can/should reline CIPP is the water constriction factor. Every relined pipe is slightly smaller than the host pipe. This should go without saying; everything that fits inside of something else has to be smaller. Most of the time, the difference between the host pipe and the cured in place liner is insignificant. The constriction doesn’t interrupt the flow of water. If you reline CIPP, eventually you’ll get to a point where constriction matters. That could be five or six liners (or more) down the road, however. Again—we could all be living on Mars, or that facility is someone else’s problem now. 

You can reline CIPP if you must. However, if you’re taking care of your pipes and CIPP is a good fit for your business’s needs, you probably won’t have to. CIPP lasts a long time. By the time you have to replace it, you might not need that system anymore.