When winter hits and Alberta grounds become frozen solid, working with underground utility lines can be a challenge. Even the softest of soils can quickly turn into what feels like concrete.
There can be several feet of frozen earth before you can get to your utility line and the softer clay below. That can make excavation work long and tedious.
Which is where hydrovac trucks come in.
Make short work of frozen earth
In the utility and oil and gas industry, it’s common knowledge that a hydrovac is a super efficient method of daylighting utility lines. Hydrovac trucks are used on any kind of excavation job, but are essential when working with buried utilities. This is because the risk of damaging lines with high-pressure water is low when you’re digging correctly, and Alberta now requires them when digging within a certain distance of underground lines.
Hydrovacs are also designed to dig through frozen ground that most excavators struggle with. They’re equipped with high-powered coil heaters that heat the water, allowing hydrovac operators to dig in harsh winter climates. Heated and pressurized water can penetrate and cut through any depth of ground frost quickly and efficiently.
Your -30 degrees Celsius excavation job becomes a piece of cake. The toughest part is working through all the steam generated.
Any other benefits?
Heated hot water also comes in handy in other ways. We’ve thawed out frozen water lines, fire hydrants, and other trucks and equipment, including backhoes. We’ve also thawed out frozen culverts and sewers using self-propelled flusher heads.
Hydrovac trucks also come equipped with hundreds of feet worth of hoses and extension tubes, allowing operators to dig on sites that are difficult to reach. Utility lines in congested spaces such as backyards in tight neighbourhoods can be daylighted from the street without damaging lawns or landscaping. It’s possible to reach spots on the sides of steep hills, in ditches, and other spots far off the paved road without difficulty.
Operators are trained on running and maintaining hydrovac units during extremely cold conditions. In Alberta, working through intense winter weather is the norm. To get through those extreme periods, it’s important to follow winterizing and lubricating procedures designed to keep hydrovacs running smoothly.
Most hydrovacs have heated and insulated water lines, and have a heater in the water pump cabinet. A warmed cab allowed crews to warm up periodically, getting them through extended shifts in the extreme cold. Heated water can be circulated throughout the system during periods where the hydrovac is on standby to prevent freeze-ups.
At the end of the day, water is drained and purged from water hoses, and glycol is run through the lines prevent them from freezing overnight if the unit must be parked outside in the cold at night (ie – if working out of town).
Summary: When a deep freeze hits, hydrovac trucks might be your best bet to keep your project going on schedule.