What Is Soft Dig Excavation?

Traditional excavation methods can be disruptive to underground utilities, property, as well as flora and fauna — not to mention time-consuming and expensive. However, sometimes, excavation is unavoidable and needs to be done. The good news for facility owners and property managers is that excavating contractors have developed another method of excavation that is minimally invasive and very technologically advanced. It’s called soft dig excavation or vacuum excavation. Read on to learn all about the process, and the benefits, of “soft digging” excavation.

Soft Dig Excavation Process

To summarize a relatively complex process in a single sentence, soft dig excavation works this way: Air or water pressure is used for breaking up soil or other terrain, and then the soil or earth is removed via vacuum trucks. This is why soft dig excavation is often called vacuum excavation.

Soft Digging Methods

While soft dig excavation is a catch-all name for several minimally invasive methods of excavation that end in the use of a high-powered vacuum, there are several methods for soft dig excavation. These include:

Hydro excavation

Hydro excavation involves pumping highly pressurized heated water through the soil that is being excavated. This might sound the same as fracking, but it’s not the same process. Fracking involves blasting water into deep wells to drill for oil, where hydro excavation can be directed through any size or shape terrain if done correctly. Hydro excavation is very affordable compared to traditional excavation because using pressurized water is much cheaper than utilizing multiple large excavating machines.

Pressurized air

Pressurized air can also be used to clear away soil or other materials during soft dig excavation. This is particularly useful with excavation done alongside concrete scanning and imaging as there is no risk of damage. Because air compressors provide consistent pressure with no need to “refill” any tanks, they work perfectly for this task. Air is non-conductive, so soft dig excavation is also safer around live wires and other electrical dangers.

Benefits of Soft Dig Excavation

There are many reasons to choose excavation using tools or equipment that utilize air or water rather than traditional methods. These are some of the benefits of soft dig excavation:

It’s safer

Soft dig excavation requires less equipment and fewer workers compared to traditional excavation methods, which reduces the risk of injuries.

It protects property

Using water or air to dig eliminates the risk of damage to underground wires, pipes, or utility lines.

It preserves flora and fauna

Soft dig excavation is safer for terrain, with no equipment running through gardens, lawns, or landscaping.

It’s less disruptive

Soft dig excavation is less noisy and disruptive on the job site and in surrounding areas. It also takes up less room relative to standard excavation, meaning you can keep your business open or leave your property more accessible.

It’s faster

The entire process of soft dig excavation — from locating the best places to place vacuum trucks — to the collection of soil or earth for removal, is quicker than standard excavation. This means your project will get done faster, and you’ll be able to start the next stage of construction.

It’s effective year-round

Traditional excavation during winter has historically been a challenge due to frozen ground and frost. However, soft dig excavation makes cold-climate projects much easier, meaning you can get work done year-round.

Only “One Call” Away!

Ready to book soft dig excavation for your worksite, or want to learn more about the process? Contact GPR One Call today with questions or to book our services. We’re looking forward to moving your work forward, and we want to do so using our cutting-edge excavating technology!