Learn the pros, cons, and everything in between when it comes to repairing your aging or damaged plumbing system.

A subtle dripping sound. A brownish tinge when you run the bath. A full-on deluge of water in your basement or business. 

These can all be signs that your pipes could be cracked, broken, sagging, or blocked – and you’ll want to get these problems fixed fast and right the first time.

Pipe repair and replacement are jobs for a specialist. While a local general plumber may be able to help, they’ll be more likely to focus on fixing the issue at hand than assessing the full scope of the problem. Many general plumbers won’t be savvy when it comes to repairing the main water and sewer lines that feed your home or business.

The two main options that a plumbing specialist will use to address the root cause of the problem are pipe relining and pipe replacement. On the surface, these sound rather straightforward: one repairs and the other installs new.

But knowing when the time is right for each can be the difference in a proper resolution, disruptive work, and a deep hit to your bank account. Read on to compare your options and find the best for for your Melbourne home or business.

How does pipe relining work?

Pipe relining is a fast, affordable, and eco-friendly way to repair and strengthen an existing pipe system.

A specialist will assess the integrity of the existing pipes and identify areas that need to be reinforced or repaired for cracking and other damage. This can be done with drain cameras and CCTV without cutting into anything beforehand.

This is where pipe relining starts to stand out from other repair methods. First, there is no disruptive digging required. This eliminates the need to tear up front lawns or excavate foundations or parking lots. Also called trenchless pipe relining, the team hydro jets the interior of the pipe to clean it of any debris. Then, they insert a new lining within the existing pipe.

This works like an interior seal that includes a hardening resin to stop leaks and make the overall pipe stronger. You can also think of this as a sturdy and clean pipe placed inside the shell of the existing, compromised pipe.

Since you aren’t removing the existing pipe, the solution can be implemented fairly quickly. In some cases, projects take just a day or two. They can be used in residential and commercial pipes for potable water as well as drainage, storm water, and sewer waste.

Click here to compare your 4 x pipe relining options in-depth

How does pipe replacement work?

The name says it all.

Existing pipe is swapped out for new materials. To do this, the damage must still be located to determine how long of a stretch is affected. This assessment can be done with CCTV, but this is where the similarity with pipe relining ends.

Pipe replacement requires the damaged pipe be removed completely. To do this, plumbing companies need direct access to the affected area. In most cases, this requires extensive digging and excavation just to get to the pipe, usually in the form of a long trench. The existing pipe is then cut away, and a new pipe is laid in place. When you have an entire pipe system to repair, this method can become time consuming, costly, and messy both inside and outside the pipes.

Comparing pipe relining vs. pipe replacement

With an understanding of how these two approaches work at a high level, we can start to explore the pros and cons of each.

The choice between pipe lining vs. pipe replacement may likely be handled for you in situations where one or the other is not feasible.

Where you have a say, you may be tempted to go with a complete replacement job. After all, there can be an appeal in forging ahead with something brand new in the wake of extensive damage. However, when you compare replacement with relining, you might be surprised by the benefits.

#1: Cost

Full-on pipe replacement is more expensive than pipe relining, no matter how much pipe you are talking about. Consider that replacement requires digging, which in turn requires extra time, equipment, and manpower. The costs for this will be included along with the new materials.

Pipe relining is a more streamlined process. The lining is inserted in the existing pipe and inflated to adhere in the line remotely by a specialist. Camera and flow testing will confirm the leak or vulnerability has been addressed.

In both cases, prices are going to vary depending on how much pipe needs to be fixed and how much material is needed. On average, pipe relining for a Melbourne home can cost between $2,500 to $4,000 while pipe replacement can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000.

#2: Damage

We’re not talking about your pipe damage here. We’re talking about the damage to your property to access the pipes themselves.

Pipe replacement requires direct access. So if your affected pipe is under a driveway, parking lot, timber kitchen floor, garden bed, subfloor, or custom patio work, those areas will be dug up to reach the pipes. The project cost will be compounded by your need to reinstate them. And if the pipe should fail in the future, you’re looking at repeating the (costly) process.

#3: Time

We already touched on this a bit above, but overall, pipe relining is much faster than pipe replacement. A relining job can take 1-2 days while replacement can take several weeks. The reduced time also applies to commercial relining jobs since the work can be done without involving traffic control or disrupting employee or customer access to your building.

#4: Placement and Backfall

Realising that there’s a problem with the pipes, some Melbourne businesses choose to relocate their system as part of their repair approach. This can make things easier to access in the future or be useful for more involved renovations. In this case, pipe replacement is the way to go. This also applies if you’re experiencing sewer backfall. Ground sloping and shifting over time can cause blockages and backups.

The old system can be discarded, and new pipes can be laid to meet your needs. Relining works great unless the pipes are not in the right location.

#5: Durability and Structure

Many customers find it surprising that a relined pipe can be structurally strong and more long lasting than a traditional pipe replacement. A key factor here is materials. Relined pipes use a synthetic material that adheres to the inside of an existing pipe using an epoxy resin.

The resulting pipe naturally resists corrosion and can last longer than metal pipes. In fact, relined pipes can last over 50 years. The resin also adds rigidity to the pipe with a lot of structural integrity, and some pipe liners are specifically designed for load bearing pipes like those run under high-traffic areas.

#6: Environment and Safety

When you replace a pipe, older material must be properly disposed of via recycling methods or landfill waste. The processes for producing the metals and pipe for the replacement work also strain our global resources and create carbon emissions during manufacture.

Pipe relining doesn’t add waste since it leaves the existing pipe in place while it patches the cracks and bolsters the integrity of the pipe system. Many relining materials, including epoxy, are also produced without carbon emissions.

Especially for pipes that carry potable water, safety should be a priority. The danger of metal pipe work, existing or replacements, is that they can corrode over time and introduce harmful metals and chemicals into the water supply. Pipe relining prevents elements like lead or copper from existing pipes from reaching consumers, and it does not degrade over time.

How to choose the right pipe repair method

In the table below, we’ve summarised our pro and con comparison to illustrate when one solution or the other may be best.

Of course, a consultation from a pipe relining specialist and plumbing service is the best way to start a project of this magnitude. They will be able to assess your system and make a recommendation for your unique project.

Benefit or Concern Pipe Relining Pipe Replacement
Cost / Affordability X
Damage / Invasiveness X
Time X
Placement X
Backfall X
Durability X
Structure X
Environment X
Contamination X

Is pipe relining really worth it?

If your pipes are damaged and decaying, you’ll need to upgrade your infrastructure to provide proper fresh water and sewer service. Whether you are going to fix the pipes in question is, in itself, not a question. This choice comes down to the method to use that fits your project and your budget.

When evaluating pipe relining vs. pipe replacement, relining is a clear winner that also provides long-term value. The financial cost is less than that of a traditional pipe replacement and a preferred option unless unique circumstances dictate otherwise.

Choose an experienced specialist for your pipe relining project

Pipe relining is a plumbing specialty that requires experience and qualification for the job to be done right and last. Whether your project is residential, commercial, or industrial, look for licensed and insured technicians with a long track record of high performance.

Mr. Pipe Relining is the leading provider of pipe relining services and solutions throughout Australia. All of our work is 100% compliant with Australian Standards and plumbing codes. We are ISO certified, members of the Master Plumbers Association, and hold a number of accreditations. As the sole operator of trenchless relining in Victoria, we offer state-of-the-art technology and superior 24/7 customer service that ensure every job is done right, on time and on budget.

Call us today on 03 9331 6633 to speak with a pipe relining specialist. We can discuss your specific project and provide a fast and free quote today.