The Booming Vacuum Excavation Industry


The market for vacuum excavation is expanding in all directions. What was once the realm of smaller contractors with one truck doing sub-contract work for larger contractors, the industry is now seeing more and more of the large contracting firms adding vacuum excavation to their portfolios.

“The growth in vacuum excavation is largely due to the increased focus on preventing utility strikes and improving job site safety. There’s a tremendous risk of injury and expense associated with power/service outages, burst waterlines, gas explosions and damaged property that can result when a buried utility is struck during mechanical excavation,” says Nick Bruhn, product manager of Vactor Mfg., in an interview with Forrestor Media. “Vacuum excavation increases work site safety and decreases the cost of digging by minimizing the risk of utility strikes.”

By most reports, growth in the vacuum excavation business is strong. As more contractors learn what hydro and air excavation can do, they are finding that its benefits more than outweigh its costs. Vacuum excavation contractors agree that the process is considerably costlier than using a backhoe, but it is infinitely less expensive than utility damage.

Vacuum excavation has its roots in the petroleum industry, where it has been used for years to expose underground oil pipelines and valves. According to the Vac-Con Inc. website, vacuum excavation in the oil and gas industry began in the 1960s where the vacuum truck operators began using a high-pressure water stream that, when heated, made easy work of turning frozen earth into muddy slurry that the excavator could suck into its holding tank.