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Pipe bursting is a method of replacing a pipe by fracturing or splitting the existing pipe from within, expanding the broken pipe into the surrounding soil, and simultaneously pulling in a same or larger size new pipe.  The new pipe materials include HDPE, PVC, ductile iron and others.  The advantages of pipe bursting over traditional excavation and replacement include:

  • Lower cost and less risk

  • Replacement along the same alignment, thereby avoiding other utilities and easement issues

  • Minimizes excavation and associated dust and trench settling 

  • Shorter schedule and reduced disruption to the public

Generally speaking, pipe bursting is a viable trenchless alternative for the engineer to consider when:

  • A lower cost alternative to excavation & replacement is needed

  • Access challenges are present (e.g. waterways, highways)

  • Upsizing is required to achieve a higher flow capacity

  • Avoiding hazardous materials  such as contaminated soil

  • Existing pipes are deteriorated beyond the point of rehabilitation, requiring pipe replacement 

Replacement via pipe bursting is applicable to a variety of pipelines, including:

  • Sewers & drains

  • Culverts (including CMP)

  • Raw or potable water

  • Gas

  • Power

  • Service laterals (sewer, water, gas)

Advancing experience and knowledge continue to broaden the scope of applications for pipe bursting. Two of the more recent advancements are precholorinated pipe bursting of water mains (a method that allows for main line replacement and reinstatement of services in one day) and replacement of corrugated metal pipes (a method that cuts and expands the pipe, rather than bunching it up).


2007 Pipe Bursting of New England, Inc.