McVac Environmental

Vacuum Excavation vs Hydro Excavation

Vacuum excavation and hydro excavation are both fast, efficient, non-mechanical ways of digging. Use this guide to learn more about vacuum excavation and hydro excavation, how they work, the differences between the two, and which excavation type is best suited to your project.   

Vacuum Excavation

Vacuum excavation is a non-destructive digging method that uses high-pressure air to loosen soil, then uses a vacuum to remove the loosened dirt. Because it does not involve mechanical digging, vacuum excavation is a safe way of digging to expose buried wires, pipes and structures without damaging them.

Hydro Excavation

Hydro excavation, also called hydro vacuum excavation, is similar to vacuum excavation but it uses water instead of air to loosen the soil before vacuuming it out. Like vacuum excavation, hydro excavation can also be used to dig without damaging underground features.

Hydro or Vacuum Excavation?

The choice between hydro excavation and vacuum excavation depends on the specific requirements of the digging project.

In general, hydro excavation is faster and more powerful, and is a good option for larger excavation projects or for digging in areas with rough ground or hard clay.

Hydro excavation may also be a better option when the ground is frozen, because it can use hot water up to 180 degrees.

In cases where backfill needs to remain dry in order to refill the hole, vacuum excavation is the better option. With hydro excavation, a high-speed vacuum removes the wet, muddy soil from the hole, but that soil must be transported to a dump site for disposal—it usually can’t be used to refill the hole.

Still not sure which excavation type is best for your digging project? McVac Environmental Services is fully equipped for both vacuum excavation and hydro vacuum excavation and can help you determine which is best for your project based on your specific needs and requirements. Contact us today!