Not long ago, installing a pipeline was a large-scale project. 

Excavation equipment would have to dig up long trenches, and then crews would manually install a new line. Once the work was done, they would backfill soil, repave roads, and try to make the area look somewhat like before. 

Today, trenchless technology has become the preferred choice for crews installing and replacing buried natural gas, sewer, water, cable, and conduit lines without damaging the ground or creating environmental eyesores. 

Trenchless technology is a game-changer for utilities, but the process calls for materials capable of pulling, breaking, and installing new pipelines. Luckily, there’s a product designed for this exact task. 

Pipe bursting wire is a rugged, reliable, and flexible cable capable of handling thousands of pounds of tension without missing a beat. But how does it work, and how does it improve trenchless installations? 

The Rise of Trenchless Technology  

Compared to open-cut installation methods, trenchless techniques like horizontal directional drilling (HDD) have several advantages. 

Trenchless pipeline installations are better for neighborhoods and cityscapes because they cause less damage and disruption to people, traffic patterns, and landscapes. Installations generally only need opening and exit holes to complete the job and enough space to accommodate the pipe and machinery used to pull the wire and pipe through the soil. 

Unlike open-cut methods, trenchless projects also limit the damage to the local flora and fauna, including trees, grasses, soils, and habitats. Most importantly, the less intrusive process reduces erosion risks, especially in sensitive locations where disturbances can lead to floods or other environmental concerns. 

Because it’s minimally invasive, trenchless technology is applicable across multiple terrains, including rocky soil, water, and roots. Crews can also install pipelines near existing utilities since modern machinery can maneuver underneath obstacles without disturbing them. 

Faster Project Timelines  

We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money,” but applying it to real-world projects can sometimes be easier said than done. 

For trenchless technology, less digging often leads to faster, safer projects. Because there are only two holes to dig, crews spend less time dealing with details like backfilling, repaving, and repairing the land to its former state. 

Job sites are also much safer. An open-cut trench poses several risks for inattentive workers, including slipping or falling into the trench, triggering a cave-in, or falling victim to other issues caused by loose and disturbed soil. 

Breaking Through with Pipe Bursting Wire  

If pipe bursting wire could be a football player, it would easily anchor the offensive line because of its unwavering strength, flexibility, and multi-purpose nature. 
Copper clad steel (CCS) pipe bursting wire is made using a high carbon steel wire tightly bonded around the outside with a thin layer of copper. The steel core is strong, giving the wire high tensile strength, while the copper makes the wire more conductive and easily traceable, like other tracer wire products. 
In other cases, stainless steel tracer wire might be used. Stainless steel pipe bursting wire has a lower tensile strength compared to copper clad steel and is only 5% conductive. This means the wire will be tougher to locate after installation.  

Why does the wire need to be so strong in the first place if all it’s doing is breaking old pipes and pulling new assets into place?  

Think about the effort it would take to pull a marble through a drinking straw – in this case, the straw is the old pipe, and the marble is a new, larger pipe ready for installation. The power and pressure needed to break the straw and pull the marble through must be high – if not, it doesn’t work.  

Long, Strong, And Down to Get the Friction On  

Unlike stranded stainless steel options with a break load maxing out at about 3,700 pounds, copper clad steel pipe bursting wire is rated at 4,750 pounds.  

Copper clad steel combines the strength of steel with the conductivity of copper, helping it perform several distinct functions. Not only is the cable durable and flexible enough to withstand the pressure and friction associated with breaking old pipes, but it’s also capable of installing new underground utility pipelines with the same motion. Once the new pipeline is in place, the same wire can act as a tracer wire to find the assets later, thanks to the wire’s copper outer layer.  

Strength is only one aspect of what makes pipe bursting wire so useful, but its 50-mil HDPE (high-density polyethylene) insulation ensures the wire performs in some of the most demanding situations. The insulation used to protect the conductor from damage is direct burial rated, meaning it is abrasion, moisture, and corrosion resistant. 

Power and Precision  

Pipe bursting wire is generally used with pulling equipment to break old pipelines and install a new one in a single motion. 

Two of the most common options include hydraulic pulling units and winch-pulling machines. High-powered hydraulic machines give the user more control during the pulling process and smoother operation, even when soil conditions aren’t ideal. This could mean anything from unstable or overly wet soil to other utilities already in the area. 

Winch-pulled methods are less forgiving but are great for smaller-diameter pipes that don’t require a ton of finesse and for situations where the soil conditions are easier to deal with. 

Safer Projects, Faster Installs, Better Results 

The work is still hard, but technology has helped simplify the underground pipeline installation process. 

Workers can install underground assets faster because they’re not digging long trenches that must be filled in later. The jobs are safer because there are fewer fall risks, cave-in concerns, and other issues to watch. And with only two holes to dig, projects are less disruptive to people and the environment. 

Copper clad steel pipe bursting wire plays its part well, bringing the strength and utility needed for heavy-duty work and the conductivity necessary to trace pipelines long after installation. 

Even in some of the most demanding environments, pipe bursting wire is a product that rises to the challenge and maintains its quality years after the project is complete.

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