Potholing is a process of digging a test hole to expose existing subsurface utilities. It is intended to determine the vertical and horizontal location of a facility that may be present along a planned bore path to avoid causing damage to underground utilities.
The installation of underground pipelines and cables prompted most states to consider potholing as an essential requirement for all underground and excavation projects. This is one of the main reasons why potholing for utilities in Denver and other cities became mandatory.
There are three popular methods of potholing for utilities. These are:
- Hand Digging – it is a rather primitive potholing method that involves manual digging and removal of displaced materials with the use of hand held tools such as the shovel and digging bar. Although it doesn’t necessitate expensive equipment, this method has become obsolete because it is time-consuming, labor intensive and obviously not the safest.
- Digging with Backhoe – The use of backhoes for potholing utilities was common just a few years back, but it gained notoriety because of its high potential to cause damage to existing subsurface utilities.
- Vacuum Excavation – It is the most popular method among contractors because of it’s non-destructive nature of exposing buried utilities. It creates a hole by using either air or water to break up the soil. It also collects displaced materials with a vacuum device to prevent the workplace from getting messy.. Although both methods are equally effective, many contractors prefer air vacuum excavators because it is faster and doesn’t produce mud.
The Advantages of Vacuum Excavation
A majority of construction contractors in the U.S. prefer to use the vacuum excavating machine over the backhoe and traditional digging tools because it is faster,more reliable, and less-destructive. Moreover, its capability to deliver specific benefits contributed to its popularity in the construction industry including:
A Safer Work Environment
Damage to underground utilities which is common with the use of backhoe can be hazardous to workers. Vacuum excavation which is the most accepted method of potholing for utilities in Denver, eliminates this risk to make the workplace safer for the machine operators and the general public.
Prevention of Damage to Underground Utilities
Conventional digging methods like hand digging and backhoe excavation have a high probability of causing damage to underground utilities. This can result in costly replacement or repair, and operational delay. You can avoid this by using vacuum excavation which keeps utilities undamaged. It also allows you to continue your project without unnecessary disruption of work. Continuous work and the absence of repair jobs due to damaged utilities will translate to increased revenues.
Hand digging and backhoe excavation are slow and risky. Therefore, the best way to expose buried utilities would be vacuum excavation because of its non-destructive nature. This can translate to zero damage repair or replacement costs, speed, and quality workmanship.
Damage to underground utilities can be costly because it translates to project downtime and possible contractor fines. Vacuum excavation doesn’t cause damage like conventional digging. It is the most effective method of exposing utilities and avoiding costly repairs, project down time, and possible public outrage.
Potholing for utilities may seem like an extra step and an added expense to a construction project, but it is essential not only because it is beneficial but also because it is mandated by state law.
If you have a construction project that involves installation of subsurface structures and underground work, make sure to avoid damaging buried utilities by knowing their location first. The best way to do this is to tap the expert services of fully equipped potholing service providers like Advanced Line Systems, a leading Colorado potholing for utilities company.
Make potholing a cost-effective measure for the success of your operations. Should you be involved in a project that requires the location and identification of subsurface utilities, give us a call at (303) 475-8420.
People don’t call us potholing experts for nothing. We’re one of the best when it comes to potholing for utilities in Denver and surrounding areas.