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Spray Foam For Pipeline Trench Breakers

One of the most important aspects of building a pipeline is ensuring that appropriate water control measures are in place.

Before back-filling the trench, trench breakers, or water stops are installed to control disproportionate amounts of water from coursing through the porous soil material and compromising the stability of the pipeline.

These breakers also prevent erosion and wash-out of the soils within the trench, which is valuable when protecting native soils and sediment that the trench would otherwise wash out.


Traditionally pipeline construction has turned to sandbags to create ditch breakers and efficiently provide pipeline support. These breakers are effectively small dams placed regularly along the trench to keep the trench from collapsing. The function of these sandbags is to thwart erosion of the trench while also supplying a temporary "bed" or "pillow" for the pipeline itself. However, the problem with them is that they are heavy, difficult to maneuver, and prone to leaking over time. Additionally, sandbags tend to scrape and scratch the pipelines, causing abrasions and compromising the pipeline's structural integrity.

Today, there is a new, better solution for trench breakers. More and more pipeline construction contractors are instead turning to spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation. SPF is a material that has many uses in a variety of industries. In this blog, we are going to take a look at SPF trench breakers as well as some of the benefits associated with them.

WHAT IS SPRAYED POLYURETHANE FOAM?

Spray foam is an incredibly strong and durable material. Although it is mostly known for its R-value and insulation properties which lead to energy efficiency and comfort in buildings, the application of SPF in pipeline construction is a clever and effective long-term alternative to other materials used as trench breakers.

When mixed, spray foam compounds react, creating a rapidly expanding foam. This foam has exceptionally adhesive properties and forces itself into loose soil, creating a tight bond to the sides of the trench and delivering erosion control. The foam then hardens and cures, resulting in the ideal support for piping and quickly completing the job.

CHOOSE SPRAY FOAM FOR PIPELINE TRENCH BREAKERS

Let's take a look at some of the essential benefits of SPF trench breakers:

    • Cost-Effective. Sandbags require filling and transport and must be installed in the trenches, which means a lot of man labor. After factoring in labor and materials, Spray foam trench breakers are a cost-effective alternative to sandbags. A small crew can install spray foam breakers, and the job can be achieved remarkably quickly — using spray foam is not only the quickest and smartest way to preserve the integrity of your trenches, but it's also the most affordable way to do so. A polyurethane foam breaker typically costs two-thirds less than a sandbag!
    • Long-Lasting. Unlike sandbags, sprayed polyurethane foam constructs into a tight bun with the trench, creating a durable barrier. Moreover, spray foam does not possess abrasive properties, so there is no fretting about scratches, rusting, or corrosion.
    • Safer Application. Applying sandbags to a trench is grueling work. Most applications can be done from the bottom level, removing the need to get in the trench and put heavy bags into position. In addition to being faster, installing spray foam trench breakers instead of sandbags is much more secure and safe.
    • Terrain Flexibility. One of the biggest challenges of using sandbag trench breakers is straining to lay the bags on steep or uneven terrains. Spray foam is much easier to work on challenging terrains than loads of sandbags.
    • Easy and Fast Installation. Most polyurethane water breaks will be set within 15 minutes of application, saving extensive time. Applying spray foam for trench breakers is up to 15 times faster than executing the same task with sandbags.
    • Versatile. Sandbag trench breakers often leave gaps and spaces that can usher in leaks. Spray foam, however, molds itself to fill every inch of the trench it is sprayed into. Spray polyurethane foam conforms to any shape, so you get a watertight seal — you won't have any gaps or leaks to worry about.
    • Long-lasting. Unlike the organic materials used in sandbags, spray foam will not degrade. Even with heavy rain, you won't have to stress the breakers simply washing away.

By constructing your trench breakers using spray polyurethane foam, you can expect a much longer lifespan on your pipeline. This also means that less work will have to be done to maintain your pipeline in the years to come. 

If you are looking for spray foam ditch-breaking solutions, look no further than ArmorThane! Contact us today to learn more about our industry-leading polyurethane foam system!