Anyone who works with steel needs to have a plan for preventing rust. As tough as steel can seem, it takes just a bit of corrosion to undermine your entire operation. This is especially relevant to pipeline operators and construction crews, because a hole in the pipeline means the resources flowing through it could leak. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Gas pipelines are also particularly at risk for rust. Most are buried fairly deep, where the soil is always at least somewhat moist. After a few days of rain, it becomes more than “moist.” Water is the most common cause of rust, so clearly pipeline operators need to plan for damp conditions.

Fortunately, there’s a more efficient option than painting hundreds of miles of pipe with Rust-Oleum.

The preferred method is called cathodic protection. This process involves placing anodes along a pipeline, and then running an electric current through the pipeline. We’re oversimplifying a complex physics process here, but the pipeline operates much like a battery, removing oxygen like part of a huge electric circuit. Somewhat ironically, the presence of water helps the flow of electricity.

Here’s where drain tile can create a problem.

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Many one-piece drain tile repair bridges stop the electric current dead in its path, for two reasons. One, steel bridges ground the charge. Two, plastic bridges might not ground the charge, but they create a moisture gap. Because the bridge cannot transfer moisture from one side to another, the charge often fizzles out.

This is one reason why pipeline contractors have relied on sandbag bridges, even in the face of all the issues we’ve listed previously. These bridges are more likely to collapse, and require workers to enter the trench (a safety hazard), but at least sandbags work well for cathodic protection.

Is it worth it to risk the structural integrity of the pipeline, and the safety of your workers?

Maybe not, but at the same time, there needs to be a system in place for allowing cathodic protection, or else the pipeline will rust. That’s why Mad Dog Foam Bridges set out to create a product that meets all needs for drain tile repair on pipeline projects.

This is the main reason that Mad Dog Foam Bridges are made with high-density, Expanded Polypropylene foam. We hired Det Norske Veritas, renowned for advising environmentally-minded energy projects, to test our bridges. They found a 25 percent increase in water weight, indicating that more than enough moisture was passing through the bridges to allow cathodic protection.

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Sandbag bridges only had one good thing going for them in the battle between convention drain tile repair materials and single-piece bridges: cathodic protection. Mad Dog Foam Bridges has nullified that advantage by creating a drain repair bridge that allows efficient cathodic protection. If you haven’t made the switch yet, you’re running out of reasons why not!