Let’s be honest for a second – the plumbing system of our home is not an area that grabs our attention too often. If it works, then we’re happy. Unfortunately, when there is a problem the pipes are hidden, hard to reach, and often under our home.
Tunneling is a method used by contractors to replace old plumbing pipes found underneath a building or slab. It is a process involving a small tunnel being dug and workers crawling into these small spaces. Not having to cut through the floors but rather tunneling underground seems more appealing however it’s not always the best option – here are 3 things you need to know about tunneling.
Many tunneling jobs require an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permit to be filed. According to OSHA, any housing project that contains safety hazards requires a permit to be filed. With its materials having the potential to collapse tunneling under a structure is one of these projects.
In order to protect the integrity of the structure above, all tunneling projects create a space just big enough to crawl through – this small space means that if the walls cave, there is nowhere for the person to go, leaving them in serious danger. When a project meets the OSHA confined space permit requirements, a permit must be pulled to protect all who enter the tunnel.
If your home is not on piles before the project begins, it is at risk of soil re-compaction. Soil compaction is when stress is placed on the soil, causing soil structure degradation and an increase in density.
The equipment used to prevent this is too big to fit in the tunnel, making it impossible to restore the original soil density. Being unable to restore soil density, leaves an unsupported space under the slab throughout the tunnel.
By following the OSHA guideline, you are merely decreasing the risk of danger, not removing it altogether. There are two major concerns during a tunneling project – air quality and loose soil.
According to OSHA, all underground working areas need to receive sufficient fresh air to prevent the build-up of harmful gases, dust, and vapor. If providing natural air is not possible, then mechanical vents are necessary.
One of the top causes of injury in the construction industry is getting stuck between something or somewhere. If the soil stability is compromised from the machinery vibrations, it could collapse and trap the worker inside.
Typically, tunneling is done instead of cutting through your floors. This method does however come with an increased risk OSHA has put in place guidelines and regulations in an attempt to minimize this risk.
If you’re looking for more information on the tunneling process that we use or if you are seeking an alternative method to your home’s sewer repairs, please contact us today!
Our trusted team would love to be a part of your home’s restoration journey.