3 Ways to Prevent Pipeline Problems

The cost of fixing damage caused by pipeline failure can be astronomical. Learn about the ways your company can avoid pipe failure.


Pipeline failure is a serious concern. Chemicals in pipes can cause destruction to the surrounding land – not to mention the price tag. The costs of fixing environmental damage and getting your pipes working again can be astronomical. Needless to say, the consequences of neglecting your pipes may put your company in a serious financial situation. Some damages are unavoidable, but there are steps you can take to ensure your pipes are strong and safe.

To begin, you need to understand exactly what can damage your pipes. There are various causes of pipe failure that you may not be aware of. Some include:

  • Equipment failure. If you fail to perform proper upkeep on your pipe equipment, you risk damages due to wear and t ear on the machinery.
  • Cracking. Changes in weight over a long period of time may result in cracks in your pipe walls.
  • Environment influences. Even slight shifts in the earth can cause severe damage to your pipes.
  • Human neglect. Working with heavy machinery around your pipes, for example, can result in accidental damages.
  • Corrosion. Your pipe structure may not last forever. It’s important to combat corrosion to maintain the integrity of pi ping structures.
You can protect your company by keeping up to date on pipeline testing and inspections. Over the years, pipe companies have also created additional ways to avoid pipe damage. Here are a few ways you can prevent pipeline problems:

1. Use the Newest Technology

In the past, pipes would crack, leak, or break just as they do today. Back then, however, people were limited as to how they could treat or prevent these damages. Fortunately, the fate of pipes is no longer out of our control. Technology allows us to prepare for and avoid potential pipe problems. Here are a few ways pipeline companies use modern technology to detect damages:

Ultrasonic testing allows pipe companies to find high-risk areas. This testing involves tools that allow you to see inside pipes to find areas that need reinforcement. These areas include pinholes or pitting that can lead to leaks or cracks over time.

It is critical to identify potential leak sites before liquids break through pipe walls. If you wait until you notice a leak, it is likely that the leakage has already done significant damage and infected the environment.

Magnetic particle testing helps pipe contractors find weak spots in metal pipes. They prepare the pipe by spraying it with fluorescent materials. After that, the contractor lights the area with an ultraviolet light. This light will reveal any cracks or divots in the pipe structure. You can then identify and repair these areas.

Remember to keep up-to-date on repairs. It’s important to actively treat pipe damage to keep the area surrounding your pipes safe from leaks.

2. Call Before You Dig

You may damage your pipes if you use heavy materials around them. To avoid problems, call the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. They will examine the location in question and verify that your digging area is clear of existing pipes (or warn you if it isn’t.) Each Canadian province has a unique CEPA phone number. You can visit the CEPA website for your area’s contact number.

Once you have identified pipeline areas, contact the pipe contractors. You should obtain written approval for your project from your pipe company before you begin.

Plan ahead so the pipe company can clear any issues before you start construction. Give them at least three days’ notice of your project and talk about any hazards concerning your pipes that may affect digging.

Finally, be at the site during the project. You are responsible for damages, so pay attention to any pipeline markers. Follow the instructions of the pipeline company and notify them of any accidents immediately.

3. Know What Leaks Look Like

The sooner you notice pipe problems, the higher your chances of preventing further damages are. Learn what signs indicate leaks in pipes. For example, a natural gas leak has different signs than an oil leak. Here are a few things to look for:
Natural Gas Leaks
  • Frost or fire coming up from the ground
  • Water bubbling at a pond or river
  • Blowing dirt
  • Dead vegetation

Oil Leaks

  • Liquid spraying from or pooled around the pipeline
  • Stained ice or snow above the pipe
  • Rainbow gloss on water around the pipeline area

Both gas and oil leaks leave a rancid “rotten egg” smell. You may also notice a hissing or blowing sound from pipes.

If you think your pipes are damaged, get to a safe location and call the proper authorities. Make sure no one comes in contact with the damaged pipe. Until authorities have assessed it, limit any access to the area.

Schedule regular, non-destructive testing for your pipe to avoid serious problems. Consider having your pipe tested every year by pipe companies. The more you know about your pipe, the safer you are.

Now that you know how to prevent pipe leaks, check out our other blogs for more information on pipe safety.