Cross bores are unintended intersections of utility lines. They can occur when a new natural gas line is installed using trenchless methods and intersects an existing underground lateral sewer connection. A sewer lateral is the underground pipe that connects a residence or business to a main sewer line, which is a large-diameter pipe that channels waste from every lateral to a wastewater processing facility.
Inspecting laterals is key to finding sewer cross bores, identifying blockages and investigating illicit flows. And lateral lines often make up half of the total length of a sewer system, according to the EPA. Still, many municipalities fail to inspect them on a regular basis. Ready to start thinking about your lateral lines, but unsure where to start? These resources can help put you on the right path:
Twelve years ago, Neil Buchanan set out to start a small excavation company called Buchanan Contracting, Inc. This small company soon became Kentucky’s most trusted one-stop shop for underground projects. Today, the company has several divisions, including CCTV inspection, cleaning, excavation, sewer testing, CIPP and manhole rehab. The growth was exponential and now the company employs more than twenty workers and inspects close to a million feet of pipe per year. One of the things that sets Buchanan apart from its competitors is the company’s ability to do cross bore inspections.
Inspection experts know the devil is in the details. The more accurate the imagery, the more agile the hardware, and the more exact the reporting, the easier it is to identify existing issues and prevent future crises. The professionals at Compliance EnviroSystems, LLC (CES) have used that insight to rise quickly in the sanitary sewer and storm drain evaluation industry.
When a sewer fails, the solution is seldom cheap or easy. Digging it up can be particularly costly, as well as disruptive to residential customers and road traffic. To avoid this, methods have emerged allowing sewers to be fixed without excavation. These methods are referred to collectively as “trenchless technologies.”
No two sewers pipes are alike. Many differ significantly in terms of size (both diameter and length), pipe material, effluent characteristics, service connections, soil composition and water table. Pipes also fail in different ways: they can crack, leak, settle, erode, corrode and collapse. These failures can be localized, or they can be pervasive. Moreover, the goal of rehabilitation can vary to include:
Gas line cross bores are a huge danger lurking underground. With the popularity of trenchless construction methods and the prevalence of legacy cross bores, locating and eliminating them is critical to preventing potentially deadly explosions. Full lateral inspections using a lateral launch crawler are advised where legacy cross bores are a risk, and wherever new HDD gas line installation is completed. Learn about preventing, detecting and repairing cross bores with this curated selection of expert articles:
Gas line cross bores can pose an immense risk to the people living and working nearby. These can linger underground, undetected until a sewer backup demands attention. Attempting to clean through one of these cross bores can rupture the gas line, leaking gas into homes and businesses, risking a potentially deadly explosion.
A growing number of municipalities and gas utilities are implementing cross bore inspection programs to locate and eliminate risky cross bores before a worst case scenario occurs. With this comes a growing need for contractors capable of inspecting sewer laterals. The few contractors who do perform these services are often inundated with large projects and unable to meet the demand. Sewer inspection contractors have the opportunity to leverage their position and, with the right sewer inspection camera and retrofit, take advantage of these lucrative contracts.
A cross bore occurs when a new natural gas line is installed using trenchless methods and intersects an existing underground lateral sewer connection. If not immediately identified, a gas-line cross bore can go undetected until it causes a backup in the sewer lateral. At that point, the resident will summon a plumber, whose attempts to clear the lateral may cause the gas line to rupture. When that happens, the escaping gas can accumulate in the adjoining residence and cause an explosion. This scenario can be avoided with a sewer lateral launch inspection wherever a new gas line is installed. According to the Gas Technology Institute there have been 18 accidents resulting from cross bores from 2002 to 2015—a number that the Cross Bores Safety Association says is more likely an understatement (source).