Construction work requires a range of heavy machinery to facilitate different operations. The excavation process refers to anything where the ground needs to be dug up.

But what happens when you need to work in an area where a backhoe wouldn’t fit? What if you need a smaller hole and more precision than traditional excavation machines offer?

When construction workers need a combination of precision and power, they use hydro-vac trucks. But what are hydro-vac trucks, and when are they used? Continue reading to learn the answer to these questions and more.

How Does a Hydro Vac Truck Work?

A hydro-vac truck is sometimes called a sucker truck, vacuum excavation truck, or a suction excavator. It’s a truck designed to facilitate a construction process called hydro excavation.

In hydro excavation, highly pressurized water breaks the ground up. The benefit of this is the “digging” is much more centralized. Instead of using a backhoe to make large holes in the ground, hydro excavation allows for significantly smaller holes.

Once the ground is broken up, a hose using strong air pressure sucks up the mud or slurry created. This leaves an open space with little to no debris leftover.

A hydro-vac truck comes outfitted with equipment that allows the operator to perform the hydro excavation technique. A pressurized water hose will break up the water and suck up the leftover mud. The debris is kept in a large waste storage chamber on the back of the truck.

Once the storage chamber tank is full, operators can safely transport the waste to a disposal area. The storage chamber and air vacuum hose are also useful with particular dry debris, without the assistance of the pressurized water.

There are many benefits to using a TRUVAC hydrovac truck. These specialized trucks are helpful in many places where traditional excavation methods aren’t practical or safe.

Used in Tight Spaces

Since hydro excavation offers more precise digging, it works in tight spaces where a backhoe or dozer wouldn’t fit. The long hose means excavation can take place at a small distance from the truck itself. This further helps construction workers who need to do their job in tight spaces.

Used to Limit Environmental Impact From Digging

There are some situations where construction workers must limit the environmental impact of digging. This is difficult to do with other equipment that pulls large chunks of earth up.

With hydro-vac trucks, construction workers can limit their impact by focusing specifically on the area they need to dig. This minimizes how much earth has to be removed from the job site. It also allows construction workers to work around tree roots and other large plant-life without removing them.

Used When Other Equipment Would Be Dangerous

In certain situations, it could be dangerous to use larger equipment. Once again, the precision of hydro excavation makes otherwise dangerous work feasible. A few examples include:

  • When working around underground utilities
  • When excavating around sewer lines
  • When deep excavation is necessary

These are only a few examples. There may be other situations that are too dangerous to use larger pieces of heavy machinery.

Used in Basement Work

Basement work can be tricky because it’s located underneath your home or office. If you need a basement dug out for an existing home, or need work done inside the basement, hydro excavation is the only way to go. Hydro excavation can even be done directly through a dirt basement flooring.

Use for Daylighting

Daylighting is one of the most essential uses for hydro-vac trucks. “Daylighting” is the process of digging to locate underground utilities. This practice requires absolute precision and care.

In some circumstances, the exact location of underground utilities isn’t known. Using hydro excavation to break up the ground in the approximate location allows construction workers to find these utilities without disturbing them.

Used for Soil Trenching

Soil trenching is when a thin trench is dug to install utilities or pipes. Using a hydro-vac truck means construction workers can dig an area exactly the size they need. This is significantly more efficient than digging out more extensive trenches that would need filling in.

Debris Removal

Hydro-vac trucks are can also be used for debris removal. When debris removal is necessary around or inside an existing structure, the vacuum portion of these trucks can be used. Items like dust, rocks, and sand are easily sucked into the storage tank for removal.

Underground Tank Emptying

When a tank is located beneath the earth’s surface, it can be hard to reach. With a vacuum hose, however, these tanks can be emptied. This may be done in sewage cleanup or to facilitate easier removal of the container itself.

Excavating Frozen Ground

Traditional excavation methods don’t work well (or at all) when the ground is frozen. Hydro excavation has the distinct benefit of being able to break up frozen soil easily. When excavating frozen ground isn’t avoidable, a hydro-vac truck can be used.

Do You Have More Questions About What Hydro Vac Trucks Are Used For?

There are numerous applications for hydro excavation. This process is particularly useful when working in tight spaces or when extreme precision is required. The applications above are only a small sample of the most common ways hydro-vac trucks are used.

Do you have more questions about what hydro-vac trucks are used for?

Check out our other blog posts. You’ll find a wealth of information on related topics that’ll allow you to dive deeper into the subject.