Hydrovac 101 — All You Need to Know
. What Is Hydro Excavation?
Hydro excavation is a soil removing service. Instead of mechanical tools, the process uses pressurized water to create a dirt slurry. Hydrovac equipment can then vacuum the slurry to reveal deeper layers of the ground below. Crews commonly use this technique to uncover existing utility lines and pipe systems with minimal risk of breaks or tears.
. How Hydrovac Works
First, hydrovac operators use high-pressure water wands to cut through the soil and soften the ground. Next, they suction the mud slurry into the tank of an excavation truck, at which point crews can uncover a deeper layer of soil and any existing underground facility networks. After the work is complete, they can release the slurry from the holding tank back onto the ground to cover once again the exposed subsurface facilities.
There are several different options when it comes to hydrovac excavations. Operators can use the equipment during full excavation projects or for daylighting—uncovering small patches of underground areas to locate utilities. Crews can also choose between two types of vacuums: a positive displacement blower or fan system. Fan systems are lighter, less expensive, easier to operate, excavate quickly, and are ideal for most applications. Positive displacement blowers are generally slower but function at greater depths, which makes them suitable for heavy-duty excavation projects.
. The Benefits
Hydrovac excavation is an increasingly popular alternative to mechanical excavation. Some of the key benefits of hydrovac operations include:
- Minimal Risk of Injury or Damage: Water pressure can cut through tough grass and soil while posing minimal risk to passersby and underground utilities. The process reveals wires and pipes by softening and vacuuming up the soil rather than using heavy backhoes or sharp metal equipment to scoop dirt up.
- Accuracy: Operators use a handheld pressurized wand to direct the stream of water that cuts through and softens the soil. Professionals can easily maneuver around tight quarters with minimal disruption to their environment, even if there are nearby obstacles like streetlights, signs, and adjacent utility systems. The wands are small and flexible, allowing operators to maneuver in a range of locations.
- Use in Winter: Hot water hydrovac systems can heat up and soften even frozen soil. This allows construction and repair projects to continue throughout the cold months.
- Timely Project Completion: Mechanical excavation tools can easily tear through utilities and damage pipes. This interruption will cause delays that can make construction projects miss key deadlines. But hydrovac excavation is a gentler process that won’t disrupt or delay the site with costly repairs. Hydrovac is also a fast, convenient process.
. Hydrovac Applications
Hydrovac systems are used at a variety of work sites for construction, repairs, rehabilitation, and inspections. Specific applications include:
- Debris removal
- Locating subsurface and underground utilities
- Line installation
- Sign installation
- Pole installation
- Sewer inspections, repairs, and rehabilitation
- Trenching and slot trenching