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Reinforced Concrete Pipe (RCP)



What is an RCP Pipe?


Reinforced concrete pipe, or RCP, is one of the standard materials used in storm sewer systems, sanitation systems, and large irrigation projects. Reinforced concrete offers high strength and durability at competitive costs and is the primary alternative to high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pipe in many applications. One benefit of concrete is its inherent strength, which simplifies installation and backfilling procedures. On the other hand, RCP is very heavy and must be handled carefully during transportation and installation.



How to prepare surfaces for RCP pipes?


Just before installation, each RCP section is cleaned to remove all dirt from the pipe's bell. If the surface is not properly cleaned, it may prevent proper homing of the pipe. After cleaning, workers apply a lubricant to the pipe bell, using a brush or gloves. Lubricant should be sufficient to prevent the gasket from rolling away and damaging the bell end. Next, the spigot or tongue end of the adjoining pipe is also cleaned and lubricated to ensure a good seal with the joint gasket.



How to install RCP pipe?


Installing each section of RCP requires at least two workers to manage the pipe. The large pipe is lowered into the trench with a crane or backhoe, while the workers guide the pipe section into place. The smaller pipe may be set by hand. Typically, the spigot end of the new pipe is inserted into the bell of the pipe at the end of the installed pipeline, then the new section is pushed into place with a crowbar, pipe pullers, or other means.


Some RCP must have its bell gasket stretched, using a rounding device. The device is passed several times along the circumference of the gasket to make sure everything is in place. If the gasket is not stretched, the pipe could leak at the joint or the bell can crack.


Once the new section is fully seated, workers make sure it is properly aligned, using surveying or leveling instruments.



Backfilling Reinforced Concrete Pipe :


The final step of installing RCP is to add backfill material and compact it thoroughly. The backfill material is placed evenly in lifts on both sides of the pipe until the trench is filled, about one foot on top of the pipe.


It is important that the material is not bulldozed into the trench or dropped directly onto the pipe. The backfill material must not contain large boulders, which do not compact and could damage the pipe. The material also should be free of roots and other organic material.


Once the pipe is adequately backfilled and compacted, the trench can be filled up to the grade, per project specifications. At any stage during the backfilling process, heavy construction equipment should not drive over the pipe until adequate backfill is in place or the pipe is deep enough that it will not be damaged.

Benefits of RCP Pipe Installation :


Reinforced concrete pipe is the ideal choice for durable pipe system installations. In every region across the country, engineers, transportation departments, and contractors know they can trust concrete pipe as the most resilient choice to last for over 100 years. There are many benefits of RCP but here are just a few of them :


  • Strength : Reinforced concrete pipe is the strongest drainage pipe available and is designed to meet any loading condition. Unlike flexible pipe, concrete pipe has the majority of the required strength built into the pipe and is much less dependent upon the installation of the pipe.

  • Durability : In today's economic environment, designing for long term, sustainable project performance is imperative for the Engineer. Unlike some alternative materials, concrete pipe has a proven track record of performance. Concrete pipe will not rust, burn, tear, buckle, deflect, and is immune to most environmental elements.

  • Dependability : A dependable product not only has to perform well, but it must also be completely understood and have the confidence of those who specify and use the product. Understanding how a product performs, being able to anticipate and prevent potential problems and having experienced installation crews are vital to ensuring a well designed and constructed project. No pipe material is better understood, more frequently used, or depended upon more than reinforced concrete pipe.

  • Structure and Conduit : All drainage pipe serves one common purpose; to act as a conduit to move a certain amount of storm water from one point to the other. This conduit, in conjunction with the surrounding soil, provides the structure that installation must provide. When using reinforced concrete pipe, in addition to the conduit, you get the majority of the structure necessary to support whatever type of load will be generated on top of the conduit. Unlike flexible pipe, where up to 95% of the structure must be painstakingly designed and installed in the field, up to 85% of the design strength of the installation is provided by the concrete pipe.

  • Non-Flammable : Concrete pipe will not burn, corrode prematurely, deflect or reduce hydraulic performance, or collapse under loads designed into the pipe structure.

  • Cost and Value : Concrete pipe will easily meet the demands of industries as it remains the strongest, most hydraulically efficient, durable and environmentally friendly pipe available today. In other words, concrete pipe's attributes yield lower long-term cost and more value for the owner.

  • Environmentally Friendly : With its long lift, use of natural/recycled products and local availability. Concrete pipe is extremely environmentally friendly.

  • Design and Construction Flexibility : Some projects have design elements that are a little more complex or intricate than others. Precast concrete pipe provides solutions for these projects, whether they are open-cut, deep burials, tunnels, shallow burials, or with vertical structures or complex alignment changes. Concrete pipe design is simple to do. Concrete pipe gives you strength and flexibility to ensure the success of your most demanding applications. Pipes are manufactured with a variety of sizes, shapes, joints, and seal options. There is also an array of linings and coatings that can handle the most aggressive environment.

  • Joint Performance : Concrete pipe offers a variety of joints from soil-tight to pressure. They are not affected by the type of backfill used for the installation. Joint performance must be demonstrated in the plant prior to pipe installation, and joint integrity can be field tested in a variety of ways. With concrete pipe, deflection will not compromise field joint test capability. The cross sectional rigidity of concrete pipe makes joint assembly a simple operation. Rigid joint integrity will minimize the likelihood of embedment intrusion and subsidence of overfill, often referred to as infiltration.

  • Mass and Hydraulic Performance : RCP has a number of built in features that benefit design, installation, and performance. The pipe's mass makes it more durable to install and resistant to flotation. Precast concrete pipe's rigidity and mass allow it to greatly outperform flexible pipe systems hydraulically.

  • Quality Control : Concrete pipe has the most rigorous quality control testing in the drainage industry.

  • Sustainability : Historically, concrete is the most durable and sustainable material for infrastructure and major construction. It continues to function long after a projects life is reached, by maintaining structural integrity, thus reducing the costs associated with repair and replacement. When concrete pipe is specified, the projects you build today are more likely to be compatible with any future expansions or alterations.



How long does concrete pipe last?


Concrete pipe lasts on average between 50 to 75 years and in many cases, concrete pipe can last longer than 100 years. It is considered a rigid structure, which means it can serve as a conveyance device and a structure.




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