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What Is Hydro Excavation?

Hydro excavation is a soil removal 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, hydro-vac 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 hydro-vac 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 a 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.