Eiffel 101: HDPE Testing Guide
HDPE pipe is a type of plastic pipe that’s used to transfer fluids and gases. HDPE pipe (which stands for high-density polyethylene pipe) comes with many benefits: it is resistant to corrosion, flexible, has a long service life, is highly adaptable, includes trenchless installation, can be used for pipeline rehabilitation, and is eco-friendly. Notably, HDPE pipe can be joined by butt welding, electrofusion welding, socket welding or extrusion welding. These welds create a homogenous joint that is at least as strong as (if not stronger than) the existing pipe, with no need to use rubber seals or jointing chemicals (such as is needed with PVC pipe). As a result, HDPE pipe is more environmentally friendly, has a longer lifespan, and is less likely to be affected by root intrusion.
When testing HDPE pipe, certain guidelines should be followed in order to ensure any defects are accurately captured and workers stay safe.
Before Beginning HDPE Pipe Testing
There are many types of testing methods for HDPE pipe installations, including joint testing and deflection testing. Before the pipe is put into service, visual inspections of the pipe should be performed to ensure the pipelines are properly cleaned and free of debris. This will help ensure accurate test results. Closed circuit television can be used to inspect the inside of the pipeline for such debris.
HDPE Watertight Joint Testing
In most situations, HDPE pipe will need to function under pressurized conditions and therefore requires leak-free joints. In order to ensure the HDPE pipe is in solid working condition and does not have any cracks or leaks, watertight joint testing should be done before installation. Watertight joint testing can be performed with water or air pressure. It should be noted that pressure testing poses a safety hazard to workers and should be performed by trained personnel according to established standards. HDPE pipe that is intended for drainage applications will likely function under non-pressurized conditions and often does not need to be pressure tested.
HDPE Pressure Testing
If specified by the engineer, pressure testing can be conducted prior to pipe installation. Pressure testing involves filling the pipe with water and carefully bleeding off any trapped air. The pipe can then undergo a hydrostatic test pressure that is 150 percent greater than the system design pressure. The test should run for up to three hours and every fused joint should be examined. Any leakage must be repaired and then retested.
HDPE Pipe Deflection Testing
If deflection testing is required by the project engineers or contract agreement, it can be performed up to 30 days after the pipe is installed. To perform the test, a properly sized mandrel will be pulled from manhole to manhole. Debris or sediment in the pipe can prevent the mandrel from passing through the pipe, which could lead to false indications. If failures occur during deflection testing, it's recommended that they are investigated before any conclusions are drawn.
Deflection testing is not required for HDPE pipe installations that follow proper construction standards, especially with regards to backfill.
HDPE Pipe Repairs
If during testing it is discovered that the HDPE pipe is damaged and requires repair, the recommended repair methods well depend on the nature of the pipe system and the extent of the damage. There are many soil tight and watertight solutions available to repair HDPE pipes.
The above blog is an overview of different HDPE testing types, not recommendations or guidelines.
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