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Pipe Relining vs. Replacement

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If gurgling pipe noises have been giving you sleepless nights, your sewer line may require more than just a DIY fix.

The bathroom and the kitchen are two of the most important rooms in any household. Both of these are connected to the main sewer and drain pipe. So, naturally, as time goes by, your pipes get older and become more prone to damage.

If not treated at the right time with the right remedy, a broken pipe or a blocked drain can cause significant plumbing issues. That's when you should consider a pipe relining or a full replacement.

Although both methods are performed differently and require varied tools, both are effective in fixing and preventing plumbing problems in the future. But, which one of the two is the right solution for you?

This depends on the severity of pipe damage, the age of your house/ sewer pipes/ drain system, and of course, your budget. To help you make an informed choice, we've compiled the pros and cons of pipe relining and replacement, explained the process, cost, and results in detail.

Let's get started...

Pipe Relining Vs. Replacement

What Is Pipe Relining?

Pipe relining is the process of reinforcing the interior of a broken or damaged pipe. If the pipes are not too old, and you want to steer clear of the messy digging process, you can opt for a pipe relining service.

Pipe Destroyed by a Tree Root

The plumber creates a new layer within the existing pipe, thereby sealing the cracks and any other structural defects. A pipe relining job also helps prevent plumbing damage from recurring.

Pipe Relining Process

Although the steps to relining may differ across various plumbing companies, most of them use resin to form the newer interior pipe. Let's take a look at how most plumbers conduct a professional pipe relining job...

Step 1: Inspection And Measurement

With the help of CCTV drain cameras, plumbers check the pipes and drainage system to pinpoint any cracks, blockages, and so on. This step is required to identify the cause and location of damage, thereby allowing experts to find the solution that works best for your pipes.

Then the old pipe is measured accurately to determine the size of the new lining.

Step 2: Creating A Pipe Lining

According to the measurements, the plumbers construct a pipe liner and bladder that mimics every nook and cranny of your existing pipe.

Step 3: Installing The Pipe Relining

Next, the pipe liner is dipped in epoxy resin while the bladder is inserted into it. Each end of the liner is attached to a rope, which helps in adjusting its position. This method negates the need for any digging or excavation, ensuring you get a brand-new pipe, minus the mess. Also, a CCTV drain camera is used to ensure the accurate placement of the pipe liner.

Then the bladder is inflated, which further expands the liner and seals it to the old pipe walls. Once the resin is cured completely, the bladder is deflated and removed from the pipe.

Step 4: Testing And Inspection

Lastly, another round of CCTV inspection is conducted to check the condition of the renewed pipe.

Man Inspecting a Pipe Using CCTV

Advantages Of Pipe Relining

1. Effective And Durable

In some cases, pipe relining promises better results than its traditional counterpart, i.e., pipe replacement. This is because, in this method, you get a double-layered strengthened pipe with half the effort, time, and money. On the other hand, for a pipe replacement, the plumber indulges in a lot of digging and dismantling, which can get rather inconvenient in residential areas.

2. Saves Time

Adding to the previous point, since pipe relining uses modern techniques and equipment, you save a lot of time. In fact, some relining projects can be completed within a day.

3. Cost-effective

Opting for pipe relining can save up on the repair and maintenance bills as the procedure is not as labour-intensive as a replacement job. Since you will still be using the old pipe, you will not be charged for anything new, either.

4. No Mess

Unlike replacement, relining does not cause any damage to your backyard and property. And most of the time, it requires no clean-up after the process. What a relief!

5. Prevents Potential Damage

If you want to take preventive measures beforehand to keep plumbing issues at bay, then pipe relining is your best bet. Even if you don't face any problem with your sewer pipes or drains, there is no harm in getting your pipes relined to prevent blockage by tree roots, avoid cracks and leaks due to old concrete pipe walls, etc.

Disadvantages Of Pipe Relining

1. Pipe Material And Size Limitations

Some plumbers start the pipe relining job by using a hydro-jet to clean the existing pipes and remove any debris and obstacles. Thus, if your pipes are made of weak materials like Orangeburg or fibre conduit, this method is not a suitable pipe repair option.

Additionally, relining old pipes can decrease the internal diameter, albeit to a minimal extent. However, if your pipe dimensions are already small, relining can increase the chances of blocked drains.

2. Not Suitable For Critical Structural Damage

Despite being an effective solution for many, there are some cases when pipe relining is not a viable option.

Since pipe relining relies largely on the condition of the existing pipe, there are some plumbing problems that it cannot fix. For example, if your pipe has been blocked by tree roots, deformed by shifting soil, or damaged by rust, you should consider getting a pipe replacement instead.

What Is Pipe Replacement?

As the name suggests, this plumbing method removes the existing pipes and replaces them with a new piping system. Pipe replacement is usually the last straw and is performed when the pipe is critically damaged or too old to be relined.

Pipe in a Trench

Pipe Replacement Process

Like the previous method, pipe replacement also starts with a thorough inspection of the existing pipeline. Since it is a long and physically demanding procedure, plumbers take their time analysing the problems and creating the most effective plan of action. Plus, they might ask you to clear certain areas and disconnect electronics to prepare the site.

Step 1: Covering The Area

Pipe replacement involves a lot of excavation, so prepare yourself for the mess! Additionally, the plumbers will help you out by covering the surrounding area with protective plastic sheets.

Step 2: Dismantling Walls And Installing New Pipes

The next step involves taking apart the walls to install new pipes. Each drywall piece is carefully cut open to make holes for the new pipes and fixtures.

Step 3: Matching Paint And Textures

Once the new pipes are installed, it's time for new walls. Starting with a coat of Sheetrock mud, you can choose the paint and textures for the final touch-up. After the final coat, the plumbers will look into finishing faults, if any.

Advantages Of Pipe Replacement

1. Best Solution For Tree Root Damage

Sewer pipe deterrents like tree roots, corrosion, etc, can cause major destruction to your property and cause health problems due to potential mould infestations. In such cases, nothing beats the safety and effectiveness of a traditional replacement. Hence, to ensure the structural integrity of your property and the good health of your family, it's best to replace the damaged pipes.

2. Increase Pipe Life Span

Depending on the material used, a professional replacement job can ensure a life span of 50 years. With advanced technology and techniques used by plumbers having years of experience, you can get your plumbing issues repaired once and for all.

3. Trenchless Pipe Replacement Saves Time And Effort

If you opt for the trenchless method, the labour is significantly reduced, decreasing the total cost. In fact, many modern line replacement techniques may get completed within a day.

Disadvantages Of Pipe Replacement

1. Expensive

When compared to pipe relining, a pipe replacement can cost a bomb! Most of the time, plumbing companies calculate the total costs of excavation, replacement of damaged pipes, and more. However, the life expectancy you get in return makes the service worth the time, effort, and money.

Cost Of Pipe Relining Vs. Replacement

Most sewer pipe relining projects can cost around $2300 for the first meter, followed by $300-$350 per additional meter. On the other hand, the cost of pipe repair or replacements typically starts from $2500 with no defined upper limit as it depends on multiple factors.

Religned Pipe

Pipe Relining Vs. Replacement- Which Plumbing Service Is Better?

Plumbing issues are best treated at an early stage to avoid irreparable damage to your property and health. Thus, we highly recommend calling a specialist as and when required. In fact, regular inspection and maintenance can help reduce overall repair costs in the future.

Both relining and replacing are effective solutions for old pipes. As you can see, the winner of this never-ending debate varies with every situation. Multiple factors work together to determine the best fix for your plumbing problems.

But, if you're still confused about which service to opt for, we'd like to reiterate one major difference between the two. Remember- relining is suitable for damaged pipes while replacing is the only fix for distorted or broken pipes.

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