What Is Directional Drilling?

Directional drilling is a method of underground pipe installation that doesn’t require digging trenches. Horizontal boring machines drill a pilot hole. The hole begins and ends at predetermined locations. The boring machine can change direction to miss underground obstructions and lines.

With a pilot hole in place, it can be used to install a new sewer, water line or conduit line. The installation of these lines or pipes can be completed underground. No digging or excavation is needed.


The site is prepared and the horizontal boring machine is moved into place. The boring head is connected to stainless drill rods that enter the ground at an angle. Drill-rod sections are added as the boring head drills a pilot hole.

The borehead exits at the other end of the run. A reamer is attached before being pulled back through the hole. This clears the soil, rocks and other materials from the pilot hole. The reamer can also make the hole’s diameter larger, expanding it by up to 25 percent.

After the hole is prepared by the reamer, the new pipe is pulled into the opening and through to the end of the hole. The ends of the line can then be connected.


Trenchless pipe installation is the major advantage of directional drilling. Because there’s no excavation, directional drilling offers the following benefits:

  1. Landscaping, hardscaping, streets and buildings remain intact and undamaged.
  2. Without time-consuming demolition, trenchless technologies are often less expensive than traditional pipe installation.
  3. Projects are completed more quickly, saving on labor costs.
  4. No digging means there’s less damage to the environment.

Digging trenches for a new line can be very expensive. Working underground saves time and money because it doesn’t require the restoration of damaged land or property. When directional drilling is used rather than traditional pipe installation, construction projects are completed with a significant reduction in time, labor and costs.

Directional drilling has been used since the early 1920s. At that time, basic wellbore methods were established. Over the decades, the technology has evolved and improved. Today, technicians can drill precisely and with great control.

Directional drilling and trenchless pipe installation can benefit many different types of construction. From the oil and gas industry, to new commercial, industrial or residential construction, directional drilling provides a safe, cost-effective method to install pipes.

Apollo Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning provides both bore and burst installations. Contact us to learn more about these services.

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