Differences Between Pipe Repair: CIPP Vs. Open Trench

Pipe issues strike most unexpectedly, involving the repair of storm and sanitary sewers and drinking water pipes. The two major pipe repair methods are cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining and open trench. If you’re looking for the best way to repair your pipe system, you’re in the right place.

This article outlines the differences between CIPP and open trench pipe repair. So, read on for more information.

How CIPP Repair Works

CIPP repair involves chemically manufacturing a new plastic pipe inside an existing damaged pipe. During the planning stage, the property owner and the plumbing contractor discuss the appropriate type of CIPP liner system and accessories. In that way, only high-quality materials will be used in the project, especially for intricate pipe installations for durability and longevity. 

The fiberglass and felt liner are precut and saturated with epoxy, polyester, or vinyl ester resin. Workers use an automated mechanical mixer to pour or draw the resin into the precut liner. Subsequently, the liners pass through the rollers to soak the fibers with enough resin.   

The CIPP installation involves forcing steam into the resin tube, hot water recirculation, and ultraviolet light tube passage for curing. After the curing process, the workers cut and remote the hardened CIPP ends. Workers cut holes into the pipe walls to reinstate lateral pipe connections. 

How Open Trench Works

Open trench pipe repair is a traditional method. Before CIPP was discovered, an open trench was the most common sewer lateral repair and replacement method used. The open trench repair method digs up and exposes the existing pipe. Moreover, it may also remove the section or the entire existing pipe and a new pipe installation. After which, the trench requires backfilling.

For an open trench pipe repair to be complete, workers may need to perform spot repair, sewer cleanout, and sewer lateral pipe repair and replacement.

Excavation Requirement

CIPP doesn’t require massive digging. It’s a trenchless pipe repair method requiring little or no excavation. Once cured, the resin is forced into the existing pipe, acting as a new pipe liner to patch and seal cracks and holes. On the other hand, the open trench method requires deep and long trench excavating to repair and replace old, damaged pipes.

An open trench pipe repair is advisable if there’s a problem with the sewer line’s design. For instance, a pipe with a sewer line belly always requires an open trench repair method. A sewer line belly pertains to a sewer line section that sags downward. It is curved and impedes the water waste’s natural flow.

The open trench process for a sewer belly involves removing the existing sewer line and excavating the ground a bit deeper. Workers must also lay the aggregate base to promote proper line flow and slope.

Time Completion

Pipe leakage can cause a big mess. So, it’s crucial to repair a burst or damaged pipe as soon as possible.

CIPP lining takes significantly less time to finish than an open trench. This sewer repair method can restore damaged pipes in an hour or less after it has been set and the curing process starts. Because it’s a trenchless entry, no additional pipe damage repair is necessary. That’s why CIPP is suitable for repairing short and long pipes that don’t require upsizing.   

On the other hand, the traditional open trench repair method usually takes three to five days. The sewer cleanout installation alone takes up to two days because it requires digging a small hole for the cleanout location. During the sewer cleanout installation, workers must dig down, cut the service lateral, and adjoin a standing pipe to the surface.   


The open trench pipe repair method is more expensive than CIPP or trenchless sewer repair. Open cut pipe repair requires more excavation, restoration, and completion time. Moreover, the open trench may need sidewalk and street pavement removal, adding to the total repair cost.    

However, despite the higher cost of open trench excavation, this option is better than trenchless sewer repair in some instances, such as when the existing pipe is too strong or thick, or there are too many adjacent facilities in the area.    

An open trench also prevents serious accidents from arising underground. In addition, new house construction or renovation from a previous demolition would require new sewer pipes because of the risk of severe pipe damage.   


Pipe repair methods have evolved with time and advancements in technology. Most homeowners prefer the CIPP repair method because of less time and digging required to complete the job. On the other hand, most commercial and industrial establishments have the resources to perform open trenches to completely replace damaged sections of the pipe or the entire structure. As for you, your choice should depend on how you want things to get done. Find one that is best suited for you to save on costs and unnecessary stress.

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