Potholing with Hydro or Air and Vacuum Excavation

Potholing with Hydro or Air and Vacuum Excavation

Potholing with Vacuum Excavation is the highly specialized process of digging a test hole to expose underground facilities with the use of high pressure water or air to gently remove soil covering an underground utility for the purpose of positively locating, identifying, and mapping.
An AirX team member by an AirX truck
Damage Prevention Institute Accredited Participant Shovel Safe Veriforce ISN Avetta

Why Choose AirX for Potholing & Street Surface Repair

Commitment to Safety & Excellence

There are many methods of excavating land, but few are as non-destructive, sustainable, and clean as vacuum, hydro or air excavation.

The byproduct of these methods is mud or dirt spoils, we’re able to repurpose all of our materials in a safe and clean manner.  Spoils are dried and tested and are utilized either as backfill on other projects, given to homeowners, landscapers or nurseries to be used in their improvement projects throughout the community while simultaneously minimizing overall waste.

AirX also provides complete street surface repair services to meet agency code to patch our potholes performed in the street. Our Team is trained and experienced on all asphalt or concrete repair requirements and work closely with agency Resident Engineers to ensure a quality patch that meets expectations.

This includes a grind overlay or concrete panel replacement if needed. Any used concrete and asphalt collected is stockpiled to be sent to recycling facilities.

What to Expect When You Work With Us

A Team of Experts

Our experienced team is comprised of registered civil engineers and general engineering contractors. Field technicians are given thorough and continued training to ensure your project gets done right.

An overview and quality assurance process is in place to make sure projects are performed accurately and efficiently.

Committed to Sustainability

We are committed to the principles of sustainability, especially when it comes to sustainable methods of potholing.
By using the most eco-friendly methods available to us, we’re able to limit our carbon footprint and reduce the amount of pollution we create.

Dedicated to Cost-Effective Solutions

Vacuum excavation has been proven faster, more efficient, and more productive than conventional equipment – with minimal risk of subsurface damage or work hazards.
This makes our potholing services an incredibly cost-efficient and safe option.

How Our Potholing & Street Surface Repair Services Work

Hydro/Vacuum Excavation

Hydro excavation, also known as vacuum excavation, is the non-destructive process of removing soil to locate, expose, or dig utilities for potholing or relocating purposes.

Essentially, high pressure water is used to disturb the soil and create a slurry. An industrial vacuum is then used to suction the slurry and expose any existing underground facility networks. The slurry material is vacuumed into fully self contained truck mounted tanks for later safe disposal.

Hydrovac excavations are an excellent alternative to mechanical excavations, making them effective in reducing construction mishaps brought about by heavy machinery such as excavators, backhoes or even hand digging. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the number of trench-related hazards and fatalities due to cave-ins and collapses in recent years has “nearly doubled the average of the previous five years.” Hydrovac excavation has become a clearly viable – and much safer – solution to the dangers of traditional excavating.

Air Excavation

Air excavation is the process of using compressed air to disturb the earth’s soil, which is then vacuumed up into a debris tank. Unlike hydro excavation, this technique only uses compressed air to disturb the soil, and is typically used to safely expose underground utilities in areas where the use of water is not recommended or not necessary.

Street Surface Repair

A typical pothole location is usually a relatively small area of approximately 12” X 12”. If a street (concrete or asphalt) is in need of repair, our team will make those repairs using asphalt hot patch or another approved method, such as concrete panel replacement. All repairs (including backfill and compaction) will meet or exceed agency expectations.

Common Projects

Hydro vs. Air Excavation

Potholing with hydro excavation in most cases is more efficient than air excavation and it is generally used more often. 

Any sensitive digging operations; including excavating around cable or utility lines, pipelines, and, in some cases, rail lines for repair or removal can be performed with water, however the by-product of water excavation is mud. Disposing of mud is a more involved process than what is incurred with air excavation – which is dry dirt material. Any issues with disposal of mud may dictate the need for air.

Street Surface Repair

Street surface repairs are typically required after a potholing project or a construction project that may have damaged street surfaces.

To see if your project is the right fit for AirX, request a quote or contact us today!


What are the benefits of potholing with hydro and air excavation?

There are several benefits to these methods of utility potholing, including:

  • Less invasive: This means your construction site will face minimal interruption during the excavation process
  • Reduced risk for injuries: When done by experienced professionals, vacuum excavation is extremely safe with little to zero risk of people getting hurt
  • More accurate: Visual confirmation of utilities makes utility potholing extremely accurate and removes the risk of a utility strike
  • More efficient: Vacuum excavation is faster than manual methods, and because of the minimal damage to the surface level, other work can still be carried out at the same time

What is the process for Street Service Repairs?

If a street (concrete or asphalt) is in need of repair, our team will make those repairs using hot patch, Aquaphalt, or another approved method, such as panel replacement. When it comes to utility locating, once a utility has been mapped, we’ll cover it with plaster sand and then perform either a cold mix or AC hot patching to seal it.

How do you repurpose mud after a project?

Mud is a byproduct of hydro excavation, or potholing. During a potholing project, mud is deposited into large drying bins that are tilted slightly to allow the excess water to collect on one side and the thick, muddy spoils on the uphill side. The mud is allowed to dry naturally, or is mixed with already dry material to facilitate the drying process. The dry mud (dirt) is stockpiled onsite and once enough dirt has been accumulated it is tested for contaminants in accordance with state requirements. AirX then gives the clean spoils to a nearby commercial grower, who mixes it with mulch and other organic compounds to be utilized as potting soil. This synergy is mutually beneficial, sustainable, and cost-effective for both companies.

To see if your project is the right fit for AirX, contact us today!

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