Excavation Explained

Excavation is the process of removing earth from the ground by digging a hole or channel, often carried out with equipment, tools or other machinery. There are various reasons it may be required on a site. It is about the cheapest way of digging a hole or channel in the ground. It is also a reliable method for finding very old objects buried in the ground at archaeological sites. It is extremely useful for the mining and exploration of precious metals and minerals. Its role in the restoration of the environment is invaluable.

But more importantly, it plays a significant role in construction in the modern world. It precedes the laying of foundation at a construction site. The process begins with the survey of the construction area. Soil must be removed to the depth required for the new foundation. Compaction tests are carried out to ensure that the soil is firm enough. When necessary, additional compaction will be undertaken with the appropriate equipment.

If a project entails demolition of structures at the proposed construction site, brick and rubble must be removed from the site after demolition has taken place. The extent of demolition may vary from the removal of doors and existing walls to razing the entire structure. Removals could include underground pipes, asphalt and concrete paving. Appropriate precautions must be taken to protect neighbouring buildings during the demolition. Hazardous materials must be removed by qualified personnel in view of the health and legal implications.

Trees and stump must be cleared and rubbish removed before levelling off the construction site. If rock is encountered during the process, it must be removed by ripping or breaking them up depending on the nature and size of the rock. Rock can be ripped by inserting a steel point into a crevice in the rock and applying force provided by a bulldozer. The rock can also be broken up with a hydraulic hammer or other equipment.

Careful planning and the use of heavy equipment by skilled operators are critical elements for successful preparation of a construction site. Poor planning can cause significant damage and reduce efficiency of the entire process if for example contingency planning for heavy rain is not made. In preparation for heavy rains, all grades are sloped to drain and the surface smooth rolled.

Versatile equipment like the bulldozer is essential for grading the earth, ripping rock, clearing and pushing scraper pans. Unlike the bulldozer which pushes and pulls, the front-end loader, another piece of equipment, can be used. The front-end loader utilises a front bucket to lift and load soil on the truck. Hydraulic equipment which can do both bulk and trench excavation are used in modern times.

Backhoe loaders deserve a special mention because of the multiplicity of chores they can perform on the construction site. They are self-propelled and they can dig trenches, load and haul material and equipment and they can generally provide transport.

Trenchers are used for laying pipes or cables and for installing drainage. They can be used to install flexible pipes underground without creating ditches. They employ various types of digging implements depending on the hardness of the surface to be cut and the depth and width of the trench. They also come in various sizes. Some are small walk-behind models while others come as attachments to a skid loader or tractor.

Scrapers are used to haul soil from one location to another, but dump trucks may be preferred if the haul is too long or if the haul is over hard rock terrain that may be too difficult for the scraper. Towed or self-propelled compactors are used to increase the density of the soil and to level the surface.

Excavation also plays an important role in environmental remediation. Contaminated soil may need to be removed and the space back-filled with clean soil. The contaminated soil must be transported to an appropriate facility for decontamination. A contaminated area can also be sequestrated in preparation for outfitting with liners that can prevent seepage of the contaminant.

When excavation is contemplated or moving earth around, excavation contractors are the most appropriate people to engage. A wide range of equipment, either owned or leased enable them to undertake various projects such as housing foundations, digging of ponds and sewers, grading of roads, digging of ditches for gas or water lines, creating terraced drainage on agricultural land, building swimming pools and to carry out other earth moving services.

Visit our excavation services directory for details of excavation services in your area.