Vacuum Excavation uses vacuum to safely uncover underground utilities and verify paint marks without damaging property or personnel. It is common to use high-pressure water or air to first dislodge the soil for easy removal by the vacuum system. Many municipalities and government agencies no longer rely on paint marks, but now require all contractors to either hand dig or vacuum excavate utilities. Many no longer allow a backhoe to perform this task, because a backhoe may damage the utility.
Vacuum Excavation is often referred to as Hydro Excavation or a Soft Dig. Vacuum excavation equipment can be a small truck mounted vacuum with a 2-3″ hose with a 1-2 cubic yard debris tank or as large as a wheeler truck with a 6-8″ hose and a 10-15 cubic yard debris tank.
Here a truck mounted Hydro-Excavator is used to locate existing utilities around a sewer line being replaced. (Can you find all 13 buried lines?)