Utility Potholing & Vacuum Excavation


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, Utility Potholing & Vacuum Excavation

Due to the nature of sites changing and, more frequently, in built-up areas the ground has become heavily congested with existing underground utilities. As a result of this in a lot of areas it has become almost impossible to excavate utilities with traditional methods for site investigation work. In most circumstances either potholing damage is caused by the excavator which is putting operatives at danger and in some cases the public too, or if manual excavation is to be employed then this can come at a great expense as the excavators have to be paid for and there is no return for this.

How much does a utility strike cost your company and is it worth the risk?

For utilities supplier there is the disruption to supplies, the lost revenue, the negative publicity and the customer service issues. For a service contractor there are serious cost implications, project delays, and the potential damage to a relationship with the vacuum excavation client. Above all, utility strikes can injure operators and members of the public. Sadly, in some cases, potholing utilities can kill.

What is Utility Potholing?

Utility Potholing is a newer technology which uses a high power vacuum suction system to excavate soils or other materials during site investigation, Utility verification, remediation programs, construction projects or other civil engineering work. This less invasive digging technique is used to loosen soils, rather than heavy machinery or hand held tools. After loosening, the soil is extracted from the sub-surface through an air vacuum hose which transports it to an on-board spoil/debris tank for later disposal or backfilling.

Vacuum Excavating Technology

Util-locate have increased their use of vacuum excavation technology to assist with meeting client demand for this safe excavation potholing service. Our utility potholing technology allow us to continue to meet client demand using our fully trained and competent excavation team and expand our services within the wider Utilities Infrastructure industry.

Why Use UTIL-LOCATE for Potholing Utilities?

  • Util-Locate is recognized as One of “The best” Utility Locating And Vacuum Excavation Companies in the state of California, by all its existing clients and in the utilities infrastructure world. We are referred to as “Masters of our craft”. When it comes to Subsurface Investigations & DAMAGE PREVENTION…we lead the way.
  • Util-Locate not only make it their personal challenge to Locate some of The most difficult utilities and unknown utility lines beneath the ground - but have greater success than all other potholing companies.
  • Util-Locate continues to save the Utility Infrastructure Community, hundreds of thousands of dollars, valuable time and headaches in potholing and vacuum excavation DAMAGE PREVENTION each year.
  • Util-Locate have been established as the “GO-TO” potholing and vacuum excavation company for any preliminary/pre-design phase site-work investigation, and on the majority of utilities infrastructure projects in Southern California.
  • Util-Locate is fully capable of; locating the utility line, potholing,  cleanup, verifying & documenting it. We can provide you with the Exact Depth, Direction, Material and Size of Pipe or Line below the ground.
  • What better company to hire than Util-Locate who is very familiar with the Utility Underground world, and will stop at nothing until we give you a clear understanding of your potholing project.
  • Other potholing companies, JUST-DIG-HOLES, and will give you just that. They have no clue of the site’s utilities infrastructure and how investigation at this level works. Holes and trenches will eat away at your budget and time - when you hire the wrong company for potholing.

Advantages of Potholing Utilities over Traditional Excavation Methods

The main advantages of vacuum excavation over conventional mechanical and hand excavation techniques are as follows:

  • It allows positive visual identification of Utilities, avoiding utility strikes and vastly improving safety at job sites.
  • It is faster and safer than physical hand digging
  • There is a reduction in manual handling and hard physical labor reducing the risk of injury and exertion
  • Excavation can be carried out in areas otherwise inaccessible by traditional machinery
  • Less surface damage, a cleaner restoration and often a potential to reduce the size of the excavation
  • Excavated spoils are removed from the area leaving surrounding roads/footpaths clear of debris
  • Less expensive to reinstate/repair the surface once the project is complete
  • Reduction in disruption to other site traffic, personnel and surface activities

Utility Potholing FAQs

Utility potholing is a method of utility locating that uses hydro vacuum excavation. This method enables us to visually confirm the exact location of the utility lines, making it a very precise and low-risk process.


If you are unsure if potholing utilities is the right choice, just consider a few of these major advantages of vacuum excavation:

  • Less invasive than traditional excavation methods. 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 less risk of people getting hurt.
  • Accuracy. Visual confirmation of utilities makes utility potholing extremely accurate and removes the risk of a utility strike.

Efficiency. 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.

Vacuum excavation is a great option for both large and small-scale construction projects. It is especially helpful if you are worried that the maps of your construction site are not entirely accurate or precise enough.

You should be aware of the surrounding location of your site as well. If you are located in or near a city, you should use vacuum excavation to avoid affecting the power supply of nearby buildings and services.

However, if you are located very near to a water source, vacuum excavation could affect the integrity of the site’s foundation. To prevent this from happening, communicate with our team so we can come up with the best solution.

The cost of utility potholing will depend on the size and layout of your construction site. Alongside the cost of hiring the excavation team and equipment, the price estimation is based on the number of holes needed and their depths.

There will also be the cost of storing and removing the excavated earth as well as the cost of the water or liquid that is sent into the spoil tank. 

Potholing can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000.

To receive an accurate price estimation, you can contact our team at 1(866)638-1075 and provide the following information:

  • Your contact details
  • The address of the construction site
  • How many holes you estimate need to be dug
  • Estimated linear or square feet of the site
  • Type of facility and work that will be done on the site

You should also try to provide our vacuum excavation contractors with as much general information as possible. This can include pictures, maps, and anything you believe is out of the ordinary or would be of interest.

Vacuum Excavating - Utility Potholing - Gallery