Air Vacuum Excavation & Utility Test Holes
What is Air Vacuum Excavation (Soft Dig)?
Construction, Excavation, and Engineering firms hire Utility Locator, LLC to perform utility test holes for many reasons. Excavating test holes with an air knife, also commonly called soft dig, can expose a utility safely, allowing the collection of vital utility data such as precise depth, condition assessment, size and material identification, and temporary / permanent access for testing and maintenance purposes.
Exposing a utility is the only safe and reliable method to collect “Quality Level A” data in accordance with CI/ASCE 38-02, which refers to the collection and depiction of subsurface utility data.
In addition to Quality Level A data, air vacuum excavation is the safest way to spot check existing underground utilities prior to any excavation activities. This technology may also be utilized to perform the excavation work itself in some instances.
How does air vacuum excavation work?
Vacuum Excavation works by using a high pressure air stream to disturb the ground surface. A common utility test hole will range from 12 inches to 16 inches in diameter. A high powered vacuum is then used to collect the spoils, which are deposited into a high capacity storage tank.
The air pressure that is used to disrupt the ground is typically between 120psi and 300psi. Storage tanks can range from 75gal up to 500gal.
Test Holes are typically restored using the spoils that were removed from the location, however the spoils can also be stored on site using portable drums, or can be removed from the site entirely.
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