Underground Water Line Replacement Installation Methods Affect The Cost

Water Main Service
June 29, 2021

by David Balkan

A man is performing maintenance on a copper pipe within a sewer, utilizing his expertise and precision

There are various methods to perform an underground water line replacement or a new installation. Each method has an effect on the underground installation cost and poses potential other issues as well. As safety is a priority, along with cost, it’s best to understand which is the best method for each job.

Underground Water Line Installations Vary By Locations and Job Site Conditions

Not every underground installation is the same, quite to the contrary, many have unique challenges and features. Of course back in the “old days”, before pneumatic tools and specialized equipment, all work was done by hand. Jobs that will now take 1 day or less, used to take 3 days or more. With that said, lets discuss tunneling and other methods used to install underground water lines.

A good way to keep the costs down when having your water service line replaced is by using tunneling methods. In this video, we’re going to show you how the Balkan Team uses compressed air through sections of pipe. This method allows the compressed air to blow a tunnel through the sections of pipe.

The Balkan installation crew is then able to use these tunnels to install the copper water line great distances and with very few excavations. Underground water line replacement work using fewer excavations saves on the labor and restoration portion of water line replacement costs.

Preferred Method For NYC Underground Water Line Replacement

The Balkan installation crew foreman in the above video is using short pieces of pipe, along with compressed air to blow the dirt out from the tunnel. This creates a tunnel just large enough to slide a new copper line through. Piece by piece he installs these pipes, with the compressed air blowing the dirt out. This method of replacing a water line also eliminates any chance of underground utility line damage.

Using Compressed Air To Blow Through Tunnels Saves Money

With few excavations needed, the cost of underground water line replacement work is kept down, and less labor is needed. The crew foreman’s teammate will turn on the air as needed and turn off the air as directed. This process is quickly repeated as each piece of pipe is successfully added.

In only a few minutes the tunnel is completed to the other excavation across the street, which is about 25 or 30 feet away. Clear across on the other side of the street, the coworker will find the compressed air blowing through the tunnel.

Once the air blows through it completes this portion of the job. In the video, you can see the compressed air blowing through slightly.

How Copper Water Lines Are Installed Through A Tunnel

The next step is the worker in the street hole attaching the new copper to the pipes used to blow the tunnel. Then another Balkan installer in the sidewalk hole will remove the sections of pipe used to blow the tunnel one piece at a time. While he pulls out each section of pipe, he is likewise also pulling the copper from across the street. Until eventually there’s the brand new copper line.

This water line replacement method is another example of “The Balkan Way”. By cutting back on the required labor, keeping damage down, and performing a seamless installation, we likewise keep costs down for our valued customers regardless of what plumbing service we have been hired to perform. That’s why after 70 years and over 90,000 satisfied customers Balkan is the team you trust.

Underground water line replacement in progress.

Pipe Bursting For Underground Water Line Installations

Another method used to perform underground water line replacement and sewer work in many parts of the country is pipe bursting. This is a method which basically bursts the old line, essentially enlarging it. The old line then becomes a conduit to complete the underground water line replacement. This method is likewise also used for house sewer line installations. Pipe bursting does have its drawbacks, particularly in the NYC area.

First of all, pipe bursting occurs when installing rolls or long sections of plastic pipe. In NYC plastic piping is not permitted for underground water line replacement or water line repair work. Plastic piping is likewise not permitted for house sewer lines in NYC.

Pipe Bursting Is Not Permitted in NYC

Secondly, and more importantly, pipe bursting poses a risk to underground utility lines. In an area such as NYC, many underground utility lines are present, and frequently in close proximity to each other.

If a pipe is burst to a larger diameter, it can likewise damage or rupture another underground pipe. This is especially true if a line is in close proximity to the line that was burst. For instance, if an old water line is next to a gas line the pipe bursting could cause a gas leak. This is a primary reason why underground water line replacement work in NYC does not allow pipe bursting methods. Likewise, trenchless sewer installations in NYC are not permitted either.

Underground Water Line Pipe Pulling & Directional Boring

There are also pipe-pulling and boring methods for water line replacement and installation work. These methods come in particularly handy when damaging sensitive or valuable finished surfaces must be avoided. While the set-up time and size of the sending pits may pose a challenge, frequently the benefits outweigh these challenges.

Directional boring and pipe pulling can allow for water line installations with a minimal amount of excavations. For instance, sensitive areas like valuable landscaping and pavers can be passed without any excavation being needed.

Trenchless Technologies Are NOT Always Money-saving Methods

These specialized water line replacement and installation methods can frequently be more expensive. The overall savings can come in the form not having to restore valuable finished surfaces. Only highly experienced installers can operate these types of tools. Underground utilities are frequently not going to be exposed by excavating in this case.

Therefore installs can only occur after all underground utility lines have been carefully marked out. While calling 811 for a utility mark-out is required in all cases, it is even more important in these cases. Additionally, in a busy metropolitan area such as NYC, these methods can only be utilized under particular circumstances.

Expert Water Main Repair and Water Line Replacement

The Balkan Team provides expert home water main repair and main water line replacement. We have expertise in all types of NYC underground plumbing. Balkan Sewer And Water Main Service was founded in 1952. Since its inception, the foundation of the company has been based upon integrity and honesty in all of our dealings.

That solid foundation has enabled us to thrive in every economic climate. That is why guiding you through the decision of doing a sewer repair vs sewer replacement exemplifies our company culture of educating consumers. We feel the more you know, the better we’ll look. The year 2022 actually marked our 70th consecutive year in business under the same family guidance.

As we have grown, we have become increasingly dependent upon a “Team First” approach. What helps ensure a continuation of our high standards, overall integrity, and high company morale, is that same team approach.

Complete client satisfaction has always been the number one goal at Balkan Sewer And Water Main. That is why we are NYC’s largest and most trusted sewer and water main service in New York City. Simply put, if it’s plumbing, and it’s underground, we do it. For over 70 years, and for over 90,000 New Yorkers to date, Balkan is “The Team You Trust”.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

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