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Utility Potholing for Civil Engineers and City Planners: Which Type is Right for You?

If your civil engineering project requires the accurate location of underground utility lines, utility potholing is the most effective method by far. 

Also known as vacuum excavation, utility potholing exposes the utility lines without causing any damage or disruption. Ultimately, underground utility locating processes are the best solution for civil engineers, city planners, contractors, and crews alike. 

Here at C Below, we offer a full range of utility potholing services alongside mapping, reporting, and related tasks. To find out how we can support your civil engineering business, get in touch today!

Why Choose Utility Potholing?

When your civil engineering or industrial project requires access to underground facilities, either for direct work on those items or just to identify where they are before starting work, utility potholing can work wonders.

This style of underground utility locating can be quicker, cheaper, and less disruptive than alternative methods. The process involves creating an 8-12” pothole before digging straight down until the utility is found. It can locate the vertical and horizontal position,

Depending on the circumstances, up to 2,000 gallons can be excavated while soil materials are stored so that they can be transported at the end of the assignment with ease. It allows you to save time and money compared to other solutions.

Utility Potholing Solutions: Hydro Excavation vs Air Excavation 

Utility potholing is a very popular underground utility locating method, not least due to the portable nature of the machinery, but it can be broken down into two styles: hydro excavation and air excavation. They both serve the same purpose but do differ in process.

As the name suggests, hydro excavation uses high-water pressure to displace soil and push it to the storage chamber. Because it moistens the soil, hydro excavation is faster and can be used on hard and dense soils. However, it does mean that the spoil material cannot be reused.

Conversely, air excavation uses air pressure to move the soil. This means that the spoil material can subsequently be reused. However, the process may be ineffective on dense soils while the process takes longer to complete too.

Choosing The Right Utility Potholing Solution For You

As a civil engineering project manager, choosing between hydro excavation and air excavation will have a huge influence on the costs, timeframes, and results. In truth, there is no single right or wrong solution, which is why you must consider the needs of your project.

Hydro excavation will be faster as it erodes the ground faster and creates accurate holes. The versatility of being able to heat the water will make this method more effective in harsh climates and the winter months when some soils harden. The debris is bigger too, meaning fewer trips to off-site disposal facilities, which aids efficiency on larger projects.

Air excavation can still be a very useful option for smaller projects or when you don’t want spoiled materials to become wet. This allows you to put the soil back into the potholes after the utility line location has been completed.

Whether you know exactly what’s required or need some help deciding which option is right for your civil engineering project, C Below’s team of highly experienced professionals will find the best solution. Give us a call on 1-888-90-BELOW for a consultation and estimate today!