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What is a Vacuum Excavation System?

Vacuum excavation is also called non-destructive digging or hydro excavation. Vacuum excavation consists of air vacuum and high-pressure water to remove dirt, grime, and mud lodged on or around subsurface utilities.

You may need to dig up with electrical cables or water pipes for repairs or renovations, and one method of achieving this is by vacuum excavation.

How does vacuum excavation work?

Vacuum excavation is a double function system that uses high-pressure air to break up soil particles and suction to clean up the area. Most excavation trucks are built with a vacuum-mounted system and a compressor that is used to break up clay, gravel, or frozen soil surrounding utilities like buried cables and other underground utilities.

The high pressured air or water used is powerful enough to remove the overlaying dirt but safe enough not to damage the utilities that lay beneath.

After digging up the soil, suction is used to clean up the dirt and mud scattered around and stored in a tank.

Types of vacuum excavation

There are two types of vacuums excavation systems, and they are:


Hydrovac excavation empties high water pressure combined with a vacuum system to remove soil. The water helps to loosen the dirt and makes suction much easier. Hydrovac excavation is very popular in regions with harsh winters. One advantage of the hydrovac system is that it is not destructive, and there’s little to no risk of damaging the underlying utility with this technique.

Dry Vac Excavation

This method of excavation works a lot like the hydrovac evacuation system. The significant difference is that Dry Vac excavation uses high air pressure in place of water to remove soil. Dry vac excavation also poses little to no risk of damage to the underlying utility.

Both methods of vacuum excavation are equally effective. However, the dry vac is more suitable for dry evacuation processes like digging up electrical cables.

Advantages of vacuum excavation

There are several benefits of using vacuum excavation systems as opposed to traditional digging, and some of them include:

  • There is little or no risk of damaging the structures that are being uncovered.

  • Using vacuum excavation to uncover buried utility makes the process smooth and easy.

  • Vacuum excavation can dig up all utilities such as thermal distribution systems, power, gas, water, and communication systems.

  • Vacuum excavation leaves the excavation site clean and tidy after the process due to the suction system that sucks dirt into a tank.

  • The process is quiet and doesn’t cause any disturbance to people in or around the area.

  • Holes created during vacuum excavations are no bigger than 12 inches which makes the area easy to patch up after the process is done.

  • During vacuum excavation, there is no contact between the machinery being used and the utility, which further reduces the risk of damage.

  • Vacuum excavation is a straightforward process, and it is cost-effective, mainly because there is no cost for repairs.

As an authority in various land moving/civil engineering and underground operations, Tellus Underground is proud to offer innovative vacuum excavation systems that make excavation easier, faster, and more cost-effective. Contact us today!.


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