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Cured-in-Place Pipe (CIPP) is a modern solution for replacing damaged sewage pipes and large diameter drain lines. It is one of two trenchless pipe repair methods used for sewer line repair. The other is pipe bursting. Common causes of damage to sewer pipes are corrosion and tree roots growing into the pipe. CIPP is corrosion resistant, and the jointless design of the pipe prevents roots from growing inside. These two features make CIPP an effective method of pipe repair in many situations.

Traditional methods of replacing damaged pipes call for digging up the old pipe, along with anything else that gets in the way! CIPP takes the digging out of pipe replacement, making it a more cost-effective and faster method. Most of the time, plumbers only have to dig one hole. But even the most advanced technology has some limitations.

Cured in Place Pipe

How Cured-In-Place Pipe Works

CIPP allows plumbers to repair existing pipelines without the need for excavation. It works by inserting a resin-saturated tube into the old, damaged pipe. Plumbers usually dig a hole from upstream to access the pipe. The tube is fed into the pipe with either water or air pressure. Once in place, a balloon is inserted to hold the liner in place while the resin cures. Once it reaches its full curing time, the resin becomes strong and durable. This process creates a ‘pipe within a pipe’ with little disruption to your property or your schedule. But sometimes, CIPP isn’t the best choice.

Partial Coverage

CIPP works well on straight pipes with fewer connections. Applications only cover certain parts of the pipe when used for interior drains and vent piping. When used on even the simplest connections, the fittings aren’t covered, leaving them vulnerable to further damage. There’s also a potential for buildup and corrosion at the points where the lining starts and ends.

There are solutions to these issues. One is ‘reinstatement,’ in which the plumber lines the entire pipe and then cuts holes in the lining at areas where there are connections. This is done by carefully measuring where the fittings occur before installing the liner. Some experts recommend installing short tee connection liners in these areas to compensate for irregular shapes and sizes of the cutouts.

Another technique is ‘gapping,’ where the plumber puts the liner in place while leaving a gap at the fittings. Then, they start the lining application again beyond the fitting. This process helps prevent complications that often occur at pipe intersections and valves. This process is a cost-effective solution that greatly reduces a homeowner’s expense. But it doesn’t take care of all the potential problems. The gaps create lips that allow buildup or clogs to occur inside the pipes. If they do, there’s no lining at the connections to protect the pipe.

Small Diameter Pipes

The pipelining process takes up very little of the overall diameter of the pipe. Usually, it reduces the diameter by about a quarter of an inch. That doesn’t cause a problem with normal pipes. The flow remains the same once the lining is in place. But the challenge is often in lining pipes that are smaller in diameter to begin with. Small diameter service laterals that are between 4 and 6 inches in diameter are sometimes too small to insert the liner into and then inflate a balloon. Older pipes might be too small for compliance today. Without lining the entire system, the smaller pipes are left at risk for damage and future failure. Cured-in-place should only be used for applications where the plumbers can access the entire pipe system. If the plumbing company can’t offer you a full system warranty, then reconsider using CIPP.

 Pipe Grade Problems

The grade of pipe also makes a difference in whether CIPP is effective. Often, lateral waste line piping loses its structural integrity, leading to a malformation of the grade. When this happens, it can sag or bend. Applying any type of lining won’t alter the shape of the pipe.

Inconsistency in Quality

The skills of the plumbers installing the pipelining make a huge difference in the quality of the repair. That’s true for applying trenchless epoxy linings and for installing cured-in-place pipe. When the latter is used to repair a previously installed epoxy lining, the process presents some challenges. Failing to get perfect results can cause deficiencies in the CIPP application.

A lack of quality control can result in problems like the resin failing to cure. When this happens, the plumber has to repair the spot that isn’t cured, adding to the cost of pipe repair for you. Before a CIPP installation, the old pipe must be completely cleaned. Leaving corrosion or grease on the pipe wall will keep the resin from coating it and curing. The quality of the plumbers you hire makes a big difference in the outcome of your pipe repair project. Those companies that take shortcuts can end up costing you a lot more in the long run.


Breaks in the System

It’s really no surprise when a plumber opens up walls and finds failing no-hub coupling straps on the drain and vent lines. It’s a common situation, and it means the pipe run is compromised. This causes a serious risk of failure if the plumber relines the pipes without replacing the straps.

Another situation plumbers run into is when entire sections of pipe are missing in corroded vent lines. Even when homeowners know about the situation, finding and repairing the areas often presents a challenge. But if they don’t address the situation, the lining can end up in a mess out of sight, behind a closed wall. When this situation occurs, it ends up costing you more time and money to make the additional repairs.

Lack of Exterior Protection from Corrosion

Corrosion doesn’t just sit in one spot; it grows. When a cast iron pipe is too structurally compromised to add a liner, the corrosion on the inside will continue to grow to those areas that aren’t protected. That includes fittings and any exterior surfaces.

Maintaining Cured-In-Place Pipe

CIPP is a lasting, durable method of pipe repair when a skilled plumber installs it correctly. While maintenance is required to keep the pipe clean, traditional machines used for cleaning can cause damage to the liner. Instead, high-pressure water jetting cleans the pipe without putting it at risk of damage. On the downside, this cleaning method is more disruptive and costs more.

Pipe Bursting: Another Type of Trenchless Pipe Replacement

Pipe bursting is a second method of pipe replacement that bypasses the excavation process. There’s no need for a trench but it usually requires digging two holes, on at either end of the pipe. Plumbers drag a cable through the damaged pipe, allowing the bursting head to fracture the pipe outward. The process eliminates the existing pipe while leaving a new, durable pipe in place.

When the pipe has changed shape, or the damage is severe, CIPP doesn’t work. Pipe bursting, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on the integrity of the existing pipe to create a new one. Although pipe bursting works in some situations where CIPP doesn’t, there’s the chance that a trenchless solution won’t work for you at all.

How Do I Know the Best Method for Me?

No one wants to hire a plumber to do a project only to have it fail. Homeowners also need to know their options and have a realistic idea of the cost for each. It’s up to the plumber to provide information and explain why one method is the best option for you. If you choose the right plumber, you won’t have to worry about choosing the right sewer line repair method.

Some plumbing companies don’t let their clients know about trenchless pipe repair, usually because they only offer conventional pipe replacement. Then the homeowners never know that cured-in-place pipe is an option that could save them a lot of money. When you hire a company that offers you the choice of trenchless pipelining services, you’re more likely to have a better choice of options.

The plumbing company will use a sewer line camera to observe blockages and damage to the pipes. That takes the guesswork out of determining where the damage is. The camera also provides precise measurements in case pipelining ends up as the method of choice.

Cure-in-place pipe isn’t a temporary fix. It’s a long-term solution. It results in a strong, durable pipe that lasts for 50 years or longer. There are some limitations that make conventional pipe replacement the best option. But for those applications where it can be used, CIPP provides a lasting solution.

Any project that requires a significant investment of time and money demands the help of an experienced professional. When you rely on San Diego Pipelining for your pipelining needs, you can count on getting the best materials and skilled services that provide cost-effective solutions for your needs. We also offer warranties that are often twice the industry standard. Contact us today if you have questions about trenchless pipelining or to have your sewer concerns diagnosed.