How to dig a trench quickly

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There are many types of projects that involve digging a trench in the ground. Excavation work may be needed in order to install a sprinkler or drainage system, lay pipe or connect to the public sewer system.

Although digging a trench requires precision, it doesn’t need to take long if you work efficiently. In this article, our excavation and demolition experts explain how to dig a trench quickly without damaging the surrounding infrastructure.

Plan the position, length, width and depth of the trench

It’s always important to have a game plan in place before starting the excavation in order to save time and minimize the amount of earth you have to move. When digging a trench, you should decide on its position, length, width and depth before getting started.

Take regulatory requirements and environmental constraints into account when determining these parameters. For example, municipal by-laws may have requirements concerning minimum distances, or the trench might need to be deep enough to prevent the pipes from freezing in winter.

To clearly identify the digging zone, use stakes to mark the corners of your trench, then run string between them to demarcate the outline. Finally, trace the outline in brightly coloured spray paint.

Consider what might already be in the ground

It’s essential to locate all power lines, cables and pipes in the ground you’re planning to dig up. You can use Info-Excavation, a service designed to limit the risk of damage to underground infrastructure during excavations and sewer and aqueduct repairs.

It’s also a good idea to take a look at the surrounding trees and consider their root systems, because they could also get in the way of your trench.

Choose the right excavation equipment

In order to dig a trench in an efficient and precise way, you also need the right equipment. A 50-tonne excavator can move large amounts of soil quickly, but it won’t be as accurate as a smaller digger, particularly if you’ve never used one before. The area you want to dig may also be cramped, landscaped or difficult to access, so make sure you choose equipment that can move around your worksite easily.

The choice of equipment should be based not only on the size of the trench, but also on manoeuverability and the work environment.

To dig your trench quickly, you can rent heavy or compact equipment such as:

  • A trencher
  • A mini excavator
  • A backhoe
  • A 16 ton excavator

Follow safety rules

Before digging a trench, there are important safety measures to consider.

Be careful if you have to go down into the trench

If you use the right machines, you probably won’t have to go down into the trench. But if you do and your trench is deeper than one meter, make sure the sides are properly supported. You should also wear high-visibility clothing, a hard hat and protective eyewear.

Handle the equipment carefully

If you’re using a digger or another similar machine to dig your trench, make sure you keep it away from the edge. That way, the machine won’t cause the ground to collapse underneath it and fall into the trench. Most excavators have a long reach and don’t need to be positioned near the trench. Keep an eye on your surroundings at all times, and be very careful not to move your machine or swing its arm without making sure the area is clear first.

Adjust the pace of your work

It’s important to adjust the pace of your work to the stage of the project you’re working on.

For example, while digging the body of the trench, speed takes precedence over accuracy and you can dig at a faster pace, but once you reach the final stage, more precision will be required and you’ll want to slow down to avoid accidents.

Need help digging a trench?

In order to dig a trench quickly, you’ll need to:

  • Plan the position, length, width and depth of the trench
  • Choose the right equipment
  • Dig safely
  • Adjust the pace of your work

Confident you can do the excavation work yourself? Before getting started, remember that amateur operators increase the risk of injury on-site and generally have a limited understanding of health and safety precautions.

Excavation Chanthier’s experienced operators work fast to help you meet your deadlines and are adept at identifying potential problems and dangerous conditions. If you need to dig a trench quickly, our residential excavation service and our commercial excavation service are a great choice!

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