What are the Different Types of Excavation Equipment?

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Who knew there could be so many ways you could make holes in the ground? Today we are going to go over the different types of equipment that might be used to excavate for a project.

First off is the ol’ fashioned way of doing it by hand. If you are going to be excavating by hand, you may be using one of these tools:

Regular Shovel: The most versatile of the excavation tools used for digging small trenches or holes. They can also be used to dig larger holes or trenches but your back will be sore for at least a month.

Trench Shovel: A trenching shovel is smaller than a regular shovel and used to make skinny trenches. These are good for installing short conduit or drainage runs because they disturb less ground and give you more leverage over a smaller area.

Pickaxe or digging bar: If you are using these tools, you have probably encountered dirt or rock that is extremely hard to dig through. These allow for greater leverage and more force over a smaller area to bust up hard to dig through dirt or rock.

Ok, that’s enough of the hand tools, now for the fun stuff:

Trencher: A trencher is a piece of equipment that looks like it has a long chainsaw attached to the front or back (seriously, look it up if you don’t know what I am talking about). Trenchers are good for long conduit or drainage runs because they do not disturb as much dirt as an excavator and are incredibly fast at excavating long skinny trenches. 

Excavator: My personal favorite piece of equipment. The excavator will disturb more dirt than a trencher, but you can get different sized excavators and buckets for different types of excavations. Excavators are more versatile for precision digging and can handle large amounts of dirt in no time at all. You may use an excavator to build a swale, dig a hole for a tree, trench for drainage, dig for footers, and many other things that other equipment couldn’t do.

Boring/Directional Drilling: This is one of the most interesting ways of excavation. With boring a machine is placed into a hole and pushed through the dirt while augering. With directional drilling, a machine sits above the surface and drills into the ground and can be easily maneuvered in any direction to avoid utilities or structures. You mostly encounter boring or directional drilling when in developed areas where you need to avoid closing streets and avoiding underground utilities or structures.

Augering: Augering is a method of excavating a circular hole in the ground. Augers can be hand held or attached to a piece of equipment and are commonly used for post holes for decks or fences. They can also be used on a larger scale for bigger structures such as billboards, street lights, piers, and more.

Hydrovac: A hydrovac excavation is performed by using pressurized water and a large vacuum to remove dirt. The pressurized water is used to break up the dirt into smaller pieces and the vacuum is able to suck the water and smaller pieces up. You would likely encounter this type of excavation when digging next to underground utilities. Lots of contractors will actually “pothole” using this method which means making a small pothole-like excavation and determining how deep and where the utility runs to. This helps to avoid striking the utility when digging close to the area.

There are many pros and cons to selecting the right equipment for your next excavation, but if you have any questions, ask a professional or the rental shop for help.

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