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Why Using Hydro Excavation is Best for Utility Potholing

What is Hydro Excavation?

Hydro Excavation is the process of removing soil from an area with pressurized water and a vacuum. In other words, a non-destructive method that successfully removes soil or debris with an industrial strength vacuum. This works great to safely dig and locate underground utilities. Including piping systems, fiber optics, telephone lines, and cables. These sensitive lines can be easily damaged with traditional digging methods.

What is Utility Potholing?

Utility potholing is a construction method that includes vacuum excavation for the purpose of obtaining visual confirmation of utilities and underground obstructions near or crossing the planned bore path. It is a process whereby a small, exploratory hole is dug along the proposed path of underground construction to ensure there's no conflict with existing subsurface construction or any other feature that will interfere with the project.

Utility Potholing with Hydro Excavation

Utility potholing, also known as daylighting excavation, is the process of digging a test hole to expose the underground facilities. This is to check those facilities for cracks, leaks, or any kind of damage. This is important in the maintenance of underground pipes, sewers, etc. Hydro excavation can save you labor, time, and money with these types of jobs.

Traditionally, utility potholing is done using a backhoe, by hand, or shovel digging. A backhoe is a heavy piece of equipment that has a digging bucket mounted on a tractor. Since the digging bucket is large, it poses a risk of damaging the underground utilities and moves far more dirt than is necessary.

Heavy machinery also brings unnecessary safety risks to nearby citizens and the workers because a malfunction in the equipment can cause tragic accidents that can be avoided using the hydro excavation methods instead.

Hand digging, on the same token, is a very intensive job and it takes too much time to get done. Also, it is not accurate enough to move only the necessary amount of soil. This means that backfilling would be needed after the excavation. More time and money will be needed because of this.

However, with the development of hydro excavation you can eliminate nearly all the downsides of traditional utility potholing methods. It provides a safe and non-mechanical process that will keep everyone involved secure. It also does a more accurate job to make sure that there will be no additional expenses.

Why Not Use a Digital Locator Instead of Potholing?

While digital locators have become more and more accurate. It's really important to see exactly where the lines are. Contractors are not allowed to just dig in a safe zone, which could be 18 inches to 3 feet from either side. Every state has their own requirements for a safe zone. These requirements still include a non-destructive method to dig. So, you can only dig it by hand or use a hydro excavator.

Benefits of Using Hydro Excavation for Utility Potholing

Hydro excavation brings dozens of benefits to the industrial excavation world, especially when it comes to utility potholing. It's the most preferred method of digging because of its low cost, efficient, and accurate results. Listed below are the top cost and safety benefits of hydro excavation :

  • Faster : Hydro excavation can be a cost efficient solution to digging because of the amount of time and labor saved by using a more efficient method. The use of pressurized water and vacuuming combine to remove earth quickly and expose underground pipes long before digging would. If you have deadlines to meet or want your project finished quickly, hydro excavation is the choice for you.

  • Increased Safety : When using a backhoe for digging, workers can become injured if the machinery damages the underground utilities. When using heavy machinery around populated areas, bystanders could also possibly sustain injuries if they get too close to the work area. Hydro excavation, however, is safe for employees who run the machines and for nearby onlookers.

  • Less Labor Intensive : Traditional digging techniques are more labor intensive because they use tools such as backhoes and hand tools, which results in the need for more workers. On the other hand, the number of workers needed for hydro excavation is much fewer, usually needing about two crew members to complete the job.

  • Greater Precision : In some scenarios, municipal and federal laws don't approve of traditional excavation methods. Especially with projects that have fragile, pre-existing factors, such as underground utilities in tight spaces. Hydro excavation allows these projects to remain compliant by reducing backfilling, as well as any additional repairs that are common with traditional techniques.

  • No Damage to Utilities : If digging equipment cuts or damages underground utilities, they will require replacement and repair. This is labor intensive, costly, and it slows down job progression. When using a vacuum excavation method, utilities remain undamaged and the job can continue as scheduled. Using hydro excavation, the jet penetrates all types of ground and soil conditions.

  • Reduced Service Interruptions : Using traditional excavation methods such as drilling and back hoeing have frequently been a cause of service interruptions whenever underground infrastructure lines are damaged. Typically, these are expensive repairs, leading up to millions of dollars in some larger projects. With hydro excavation, however, this process can be done within a day and since it uses pressurized water to excavate the soil, there are no damages or unexpected excavation delays to be had and you won't have to shut down parts of the road or building in order to complete the process.

  • Used in Diverse Applications : A hydrovac machine is used in directional drilling, slot trenching, utility locating, daylighting, coring, and potholing. They are as useful in utility and electrical installations as they are in construction. Today, telecommunication and oil or gas plant industries also use hydrovac units for subsurface engineering.

Choose Hydro Excavation for Your Utility Potholing Project Today!

With everything you learned about hydro excavation and utility potholing, there is no question that hydro excavation is your best bet when it comes to your underground utilities. In most scenarios, using the hydro excavation method has been 10 times faster and at least 4 times cheaper than traditional methods of excavation.

If you are in need of a hydro excavation service for your utility potholing job, or would like more information about either, please contact us here at Cloud 9 Services, Inc., 407-481-2750, and one of our hydro excavation contractors would be happy to assist you.

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