Hydro excavation or vacuum excavation is a non-destructive digging method for getting excavation work done. Vacuum trucks make the excavation process simpler, faster and safer, compared to traditional methods. The highly pressurised water is shot through a nozzle and breaks apart soils, soft rocks and clay, turning them into slurry for the vacuum hose to suck up. Hydro excavation requires less equipment and work and is less destructive to anything that may be in the ground. Read through to find out what projects suit a vacuum excavation truck. 

Jobs vacuum excavators can do


Vacuum excavators are simple by design and easy to use, but this doesn’t mean they’re not versatile. There are many reasons why work sites would pick hydro, or vacuum excavation over traditional excavation. Some of the jobs they can do are listed here. 

Service locating

When any construction work that requires digging takes place, it’s essential to know what’s underground. Services and underground assets need to be located. 

Traditional radar locators are great at finding an approximation, but if there is a cable with no power, an empty drain or a sewage pipe, it’s going to be hard to locate. In this scenario, getting a traditional drill rig or excavator can be risky. Both in terms of the cost to replace a utility if it is accidentally broken, as well as the safety risk, presented. Physically locating the service is the safest option. Due to hydro excavators’ non-destructive digging capabilities, they can find the service without damaging it. 


A  great thing about vacuum excavation trucks is that they’re fast, easy to set up and clean. All that’s required is for the vac truck or trailer to be set up adjacent to the desired trench with its vacuum operators ready to start. Vacuum trucks make it fast and easy to trench a hole, all without causing a big mess. 

Debris and spillage removal

Construction jobs are inherently messy. Sometimes there are spills and breaks, such as water or mud slurry, and debris like rocks or glass. It’s important for workers to keep their sites as clean as possible, as it makes their work easier and safer. Vac trucks are great at clearing up material like this. The process is quick, easy and safe.


One of the easiest jobs for a hydro-vac truck is its potholing capability. If a project requires a pole or fence post to be installed, a vac truck can get the job done. It removes the need for a hand auger or drill rig to be set up, as both can be timely and cause a lot of mess. The high-pressure water is strong enough to break apart soil and be sucked up into the debris tank and taken away. 

Cleaning out drains

Drains and pipes are notorious for getting blocked up, especially if it has been raining a lot. The preferred method for cleaning out drainage systems is with a hydro excavation truck. All the debris and slurry will be stored in the tank and disposed of safely. 

Excavating without breaking services

Vacuum trucks are great for small-scale excavation projects or those with a lot of nearby services. Vacuum excavators require less set-up, are cleaner and cause less damage to the surrounding area than traditional excavation. The high pressurised water is used to break away the soil, clay and small rocks on an excavation site yet isn’t strong enough to break any services. 

VX70-1200 Vacuum Excavator Trucks

Jobs vacuum excavators can’t do


Like any tool, there are only so many things it can do. Whilst vacuum excavation trucks are useful, there are some jobs they aren’t suited to. 

Cleaning up hazardous waste

Typically a vacuum truck company won’t clean up any hazardous waste, such as oils, and chemicals. The reason is that these materials are strong and can potentially contaminate the tank of a vac truck. This will render the truck useless for any future jobs that don’t involve hazardous waste. 

Excavating through hard bedrock

Sometimes excavation sites will either have shallow bedrock or even large cement blocks. Because hydro vacuum excavation is non-destructive, the water pressure isn’t enough to break away hard materials. 

In saying that, traditional excavators usually can’t either, and will require other methods such as a jackhammer or diamond drill to get through the rock. If a jackhammer is used, vacuum pumps should be strong enough to remove the debris. 

Get your own vac truck


If you’re in need of a vacuum excavation truck or want to find out more, head on over to our product page or visit us in-store. We have a wide range of options available, from small service locating vac trailers perfect for finding those subsurface utilities, to large truck-mounted vacuum excavators. For more information call us at (08) 9479 4994 and our team of experts will point you in the right direction. 

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