For decades, traditional excavation methods such as backhoes and hand tools were used to dig around or expose utilities. Operator mishaps and underground utility damage were prevalent, especially in densely populated regions. Over 400,000 excavation incidents were reported in North America in 2017, highlighting the urgent need for safer, less intrusive equipment. The risks of exposing or digging around utilities were nullified with a non-mechanical, non-destructive alternative using hydrovacing. A hydrovac truck is easy to operate and can reach challenging excavation sites without any trouble.
This article will look at the excavation by water method, also known as hydro excavation, which involves using high-pressure water to loosen the soil and dig a hole. The muddy, wet excavated debris is then suctioned into a tank, placed on a hydrovac truck, and transported offsite to a disposal point. Compared to traditional drilling methods, the technology enables rapid and precise excavations that use less backfill and human resources and have a lower environmental effect. Most critically, hydro excavation provides minimal, if any, risk to underground services.
Hydro excavation grew in favour primarily in Canada, where harsh weather and frozen soil rendered standard equipment and procedures ineffectual. The hydrovac excavation was a godsend for oil & gas, construction, and other Canadian businesses since it used hot water to help the melting process. It was only a matter of time until the United States adopted the safe and highly efficient technique well.
Hydrovac daylighting, as the name implies, is a technique that involves excavating and exposing subsurface services and pipes to daylight. Previously, underground line excavation was done by hand using old-fashioned tools, which was time-consuming, labour-intensive, and dangerous. Hydrovac daylighting, on the other hand, is a faster, less damaging, and safer form of digging than manual and air vacuum excavation.
It improves the efficiency of your project in the following ways:
The compacted earth may be effectively broken up using a high-pressure water stream from the hydrovac truck. The resulting slurry is promptly air sucked into a tank and discarded. This time-saving and productive operation is made possible by simultaneous digging and cleaning. No underground utilities are destroyed in the process. This saves the contractors money on additional repair expenditures that would otherwise be incurred using other excavation methods.
It requires educated personnel and high-quality equipment since it is a more complicated excavation process than standard digging methods. These two elements ensure that your daylight excavation is completed quickly.
Soil trenching (digging narrow trenches for cables, pipelines, and other in-ground utilities), piling hole excavation (digging holes of varying diameters and depths to lay all sorts of pilings), waste clearance, and cold-weather digging are all examples of daylighting.
Hydrovacs are available in various models, and different models have different amounts of vacuum, capacity (in terms of water and debris), and water pressure. However, they are generally similar in idea and function.
Safety is the most crucial advantage. Using a hydrovac, you may dig around existing utilities, gas mains, electricity lines, and other infrastructure without causing damage to the infrastructure or harming personnel on the job site. Shovel impacts are responsible for 75% of the damage in the utility industry. According to the Common Ground Alliance, both vacuum excavation and hydrovacing are safe ways to expose utilities (an organization dedicated to ensuring public safety, environmental protection, and service integrity by promoting effective practices for preventing damage to underground utilities in North America). The CGA’s tone will soon evolve to enable hydrovac excavation as the preferred method, distinguishing it from manual digging. We are about to enact laws that will send the same message.
The second benefit is increased accuracy and reduced restoration. It is cost-effective since it requires far less labour than manual digging. Finally, from an environmental standpoint, it is less intrusive. The excavated soil is kept in debris containers, ensuring a clean workplace with little traffic impact.
The need to take excavated soil away from the location is one disadvantage. This means you will require a designated dumping site. The slurry-like material cannot be used to fill in the hole afterward because the method uses water to soak and soften the soil.
Though air excavation, which uses compressed air to loosen the soil, is similar to hydro, it allows excavated debris to be put back on site. However, in my view, air excavation has far too many additional inefficiencies to outweigh this specific gain.
Canadian Hydrovac services are the most acceptable option when cautious excavating is required. Underground pipelines and the natural environment are less disturbed by water extraction. Hydrovac services are efficient, safe, and cost-effective.