What is vacuum excavation?

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Vacuum excavation is also known as non-destructive digging (NDD), non-destructive excavation (NDE), pot-holing, asset proving and hydro excavation. Vacuum excavation uses high-pressure water jets to break up solid ground, whether it’s sand or clay, rocks or soil and simultaneously vacuums the debris away, into a holding tank, for disposal after a job is completed.
Pipe Hunter’s vacuum excavation equipment gives you access to detection equipment that can accurately identify the location and depth of underground utilities such as gas, water, power and telecommunications. Non-destructive digging provides a safeguard against hitting or damaging underground assets and allows you to see what is beneath the soil surface prior to commencing a full excavation or installation.
This is a non invasive, cost effective and accurate way to locate underground utilities prior to excavation and reduces the risk associated with damaging these assets. It also allows pot-holing to occur with minimal impact to the streetscape, reducing disruption to traffic flows and other surface activities.

Where can vacuum excavation be used?

Vacuum excavation can be used to identify and locate existing underground utilities, leaking pipes or voids in pipes, before any work is carried out. The actual location of underground assets may deviate from existing plans. This creates safety risks associated with hitting utilities, as well as the risk of incurring third-party damages. NDD techniques minimise these risks by detecting the presence and depth of underground utilities such as water, gas, power and telecommunications.
Vacuum excavation can also be used to excavate around trees, exposing root systems without damaging them. This allows trees to be moved or root systems pruned to widen existing roads and footpaths, or to relocate underground services. NDD does not incur the level of root damage generally associated with manual excavation.

Vacuum Excavation can be used in place of manual excavation across a range of jobs.

  • Exposing underground utilities
  • Exposing earthenware inspection openings and raising a shaft to the surface (Click through to Inspection Shaft page)
  • Installing new underground utilities
  • Clearing blocked pipes (when used with our jet trucks) (Click through to Drain Cleaning page)
  • Water/sewer line repairs
  • Excavating around trees
  • Pit and conduit cleaning
  • Digging under existing structures
  • Excavation in confined areas
  • Manhole or hydrant clean outs
  • Debris and sludge removal
  • Site clean ups
  • Post holes (including signals and power poles) particularly in heavily serviced areas

What are the benefits of using vacuum excavation?

It’s Safer
Vacuum excavation is a less invasive, cost effective and accurate alternative to manual excavation. It removes the risk of damaging underground utilities or disrupting essential services and avoids the financial liabilities associated with damaging assets. NDD also reduces the risk of injury to personnel from strikes by service’s cabling (particularly power) and minimises the OH&S risks associated with deep excavation.
It’s More Flexible
Vacuum excavation is a cost effective solution for exposing assets in confined spaces, built up areas and in congested traffic spots. It can be performed in all weather conditions and operators can dig with precision, offering a less invasive way to uncover pipelines, phone lines and fibre optics, to excavate for signs and signals and remove debris from manholes.
It’s Faster and Cheaper
Vacuum excavation is a much faster process than manual digging as you let the equipment do the work. By eliminating unnecessary digging, manpower requirements are reduced, which saves time and money.
It’s Cleaner
Vacuum excavation breaks up solid ground while simultaneously vacuuming all debris into a holding tank for disposal on completion of the job. This results in minimal impact to our streetscape and stops soil entering the storm water system. The result is a clear hole to work with and a clean work site.