Understanding the Process - How Sewer Pipe Lining Works

August 21, 2023

When your sewer line needs repair, it can be a stressful experience. Fortunately, today's methods for addressing broken pipes are less invasive than ever before.

Trenchless pipe lining (also known as cured-in-place pipelining) is one of these non-destructive repair methods. But how does this process work?

Clean the Pipe

In the past, you are replacing a damaged sewer line typically involved thorough excavation of your yard, destruction of driveways and sidewalks, and uprooting trees. Trenchless sewer repair methods have stepped in to offer a less destructive and much faster alternative. One of the most popular is called pipelining. Also known as cured-in-place pipe (CIPP), this process creates a new line within your old one.

To start, your plumbing crew digs two access holes at the beginning and end of the damaged pipe run. They then use a specialized tool to cut into the damaged section of the pipe.

Next, the plumbers clean out the section of the pipe using hydro-jetting. This scours the inside of the line, cleaning out any clogs and restoring its original diameter. Once the tube is clean, the plumbers insert a unique epoxy-impregnated liner into the old pipe. A bladder on the liner is then inflated, pushing the liner up against the pipe walls and sealing off any leaks or cracks. The plumbers then reinstate any lateral connections, and your new, rehabilitated pipe is ready.

Insert the Liner

The sewer pipe lining process is one of the most effective ways to repair broken or leaking sewer pipes without digging up and replacing the entire pipe. The process involves feeding a new epoxy-saturated liner into your existing sewer lines and inflating it to create a robust, durable, watertight seal.

The liner is typically a felt tube imbued with an epoxy resin that hardens into a permanent, rock-hard pipe. The crew feeds the liner into your damaged sewer pipes through an access point such as a cleanout, your home's sewer vent, or a drain in your basement.

Once the liner is inserted, the technician feeds it through your pipe using an air or steam-powered tool. A second inversion hose, a calibration tube, is sent close behind the liner. The calibration tube has a yellow cord attached at the end, so the technicians can pull it out later to verify that the lining has been installed correctly.

This method works well for pipes with few cracks or gaps. However, it could be better for long, curved, or irregularly shaped tubes, which may require a cured-in-place line (CIPP) liner.

Inflate the Liner

Pipelining is an effective solution for fixing leaks, cracks, and other structural issues. It is also a great way to prevent tree root infiltration and upgrade your drainage system's capacity and flow.

Before the liner can be inserted into your pipes, it must be pre-treated to ensure it will adhere to the host pipe. This is done by applying a specialized coating to the liner that will create a bond with the host pipe material. The liner is then rolled into place using air, steam, or hot water.

While CIPP can repair most pipes, it is only ideal for some situations. For example, this method isn't suitable for Orangeburg or other extremely fragile pipes. It is also not a good choice for lines with many bends or those that have been improperly routed.

During insertion, technicians will monitor the liner's condition with video equipment. They will also use a hydro-jetting machine to clean the pipe before inserting the liner. This will remove clogs or blockages and prepare the line for the lining.

Seal the Liner

The pipes carrying wastewater to a treatment plant or the sewer system are critical but can become damaged over time. Cracks and holes can cause sewage to leak into the ground or back up into your home. Pipelining is a way to repair these lines without digging up your yard.

During the CIPP process, a felt tube saturated with epoxy is inserted into your pipe and inflated. The liner resembles your old pipe and adheres to its walls. It can withstand tree roots and other forces that damage drain lines.

During the lining process, hot water is circulated through the pipe to activate and evenly cure the epoxy resin. Once the liner has cured, it is removed. The result is a new pipe within your old one that lasts up to 50 years. The lining process is fast, usually taking a day to clean and insert the liner. It's also less disruptive than conventional methods, which require you to evacuate your home for weeks.

Dry the Liner

A hard-wearing epoxy liner seamlessly lines your entire segment of the damaged pipe. It's initially soft and flexible but completely hardens into a durable new pipe inside your existing one, protecting it from future damage caused by root intrusion or corrosion.

Cured-in-place pipe lining (CIPP) is the most popular method for rehabilitating sewer pipes. It inserts a flexible felt tube saturated with epoxy resin into the sewer pipe and then inflates it. Once inflated, technicians expose it to heat or UV radiation to cure the resin and bond it to the old pipe walls.

The technician then trims off any excess liner. If necessary, a bypass system is set up to reroute wastewater away from the affected section of the pipe while it's being lined. After the cured liner is in place, robotic instruments are used to reinstate sewer service lateral connections and connect the CIPP liner to the rest of your piping network. The resulting structural pipe is strong enough to resist collapse and leaks, and it can restore your pipes' original diameter without restricting flow or requiring costly upsizing.


I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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