Why We’re Thankful for Air and Water

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, we’d like to take a few moments to share our insights on some new technology we’ve found to be of great value to us and our customers. Whether it’s C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel or a Geomembrane Liner System, excavation plays a key role in the installation process. For Oil Filtration Panel, a trench must be dug around the perimeter of the substation. On sites requiring a Polyvinyl Blanket, the site should be excavated prior to the arrival of the installation crew, and the excavated area needs to be 3 to 4 feet larger than the actual size of the polyvinyl containment unit.

In the past, sites were trenched or excavated using heavy equipment for earthworks, such as excavators and bulldozers, but that’s not always true in the present. Many utility and power companies have switched to hydrovac or air vac excavation due to their need to work around buried cables and conduits.


A hydrovac in use

The difference between the two is obvious: hydrovacs use a high-pressure water system. Air vacs use a compressor with a nozzle to cut through almost all dirt (though it can’t always permeate frozen ground). In many cases, an air vac is a better solution than a hydrovac, because it creates less of a mess and requires less disposal of dirt. Hydrovacs use a handheld wand to shoot pressurized water into the ground to liquefy the soil, while a high-powered vacuum sucks up the slurry and stores it in the tank on the hydrovac vehicle. One of the major benefits of using a hydrovac instead of an air vac is that it can cut through pretty much every soil type, including clay, and as long as there is a decent heater onboard, most hydrovacs can also dig up frozen ground with little difficulty.

Air Vac
An air vac in use


Avery Pre Hydro
This site used a hydrovac to excavate.

According to Tom Downs, one of our regional sales managers who often provides onsite supervision of installations of C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration Panel and Geomembrane Liner systems, the use of hydrovacs and air vacs in excavation is without a doubt becoming a standard in the utilities industries. “Many utilities are leaning toward using hydro or air,” he explained, “because it’s non-evasive and it’s safer” than traditional excavation methods, such as a backhoe. Often, utilities have wires and conduits buried underground throughout their substations, but aren’t exactly positive where they lie. Utilizing air or water allows the excavator to blow the dirt away from the conduit, without the risk of damage to the wiring or, even worse, electrocution.


Flat Even Surface
The end result was a flat, even surface, which made it really easy to lay the polyvinyl and geotextile.
Creating Trench With Hydro
Using a hydro or air vac to create a trench saves a lot of time compared to digging by hand.

In addition, “it definitely saves time in regards to digging by hand,” he continued, citing the fact that utilizing an air vac was a big part of why the contractor we worked with, Future Environmental, Inc. recently was able to excavate and install Oil Filtration Panel in four substations in as many days. Well excavated sites allow for easier installs, as there are fewer complications laying the polyvinyl and geotextile on flat, even surfaces.

We’re in the business of providing the best secondary containment solutions possible for our customers, keeping the safety and well-being of the workers in mind. As you can see, there are so many reasons we’re grateful for how the power of air and water is changing the utility construction industry. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Subscribe to Receive New Blog Post Notifications

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *