Vacuum Excavation/Potholing

Vacuum excavation, or suction excavation, is the process of removing soil from from the ground or removing debris from various ground locations via a vacuum hose which varies between six and 8 inches in diameter. The vacuum air inlet has a speed of up to 220 mph.

The vacuum boom is guided by an operator that raises and lowers the vacuum hose to reach and suction material into the vacuum tank. Simultaneously a high pressure air or water jetter loosens the soil so that the vacuum nozzle can pick up the debris. If a rock is too large for the vacuum hose there is enough vacuum pressure to lift the rock and place it aside.


Vacuum excavation operations may either be via compressed air or high-pressure water. Either excavation method is considered best practice in locating underground utilities and reducing downtime from striking underground utilities.


Vacuum excavators will pick up virtually any kind of material such as mud, stones and pebbles, railway ballast, sand, and water.


How Does it Work:


Using high pressure water or compressed air through a hand-held wand, the operator can be surgically precise in digging trenches, tunnels, and holes - and it results in less soil disturbance and quicker project completion.


Utilities Exposed by Vacuum Excavation

Vacuum excavation helps public agencies to locate sensitive underground utilities and expose them for daylighting, helping to fully map and locate these utilities. Operators usually report finding many more underground utilities than initially reported, avoiding underground strikes and ultimately saving time and money for taxpayers and contractors.


Soft excavation technology is changing the excavation industry by offering more precise cutting of holes, safer access to utilities, reduced hand digging, reduced backhoe work, or other mechanical means.


Traditional exploratory excavation techniques still expose ground workers to risk of injury, even when used with Ground Penetrating Radar or Cable Avoidance Tools. Services that are missed or simply untraceable can be damaged and will cause project delays and cost overruns.


As a result of these advantages, this method of excavation has become popular in the past 15 years. It is a relatively environmentally friendly excavation process.



Where Is It Used:


Vacuum excavation offers a non-destructive digging method in many areas:

Utility line location (potholing)

Installation and repair for utility companies and pipelines

Sewer and pipe repair and installation

Sewer jetting

Manhole rehabilitation

Sump and catch basin cleaning

Slot trenching and excavation

Waterline maintenance and repair

Horizontal directional drilling

Excavation in congested areas

Precision digging

Cal Empire Engineering is the leader for practical, cost-effective HDD horizontal boring/directional drilling solutions done safely, on budget and on your time line. We hit our mark every time, guaranteeing you a smooth, trouble free engineered solution.

We also offer Vacuum excavation, Potholing, and Underground Solar services. How do we do it?:


  • We employ a full time staff with over 100 years cumulative experience. Not subcontractors. People with years of hands on experience. Always a phone call away or on the job.
  • State-of-the-art, top of the line equipment at our disposal. Our fleet of equipment allows us to use the perfect combination of equipment on your project, maximizing your budget, at maximum efficiency and safety.


If unfamiliar with horizontal boring/directional drilling, our team of experts can example to you the merits, cost savings, safety benefits and time savings.

Interested? Call now to discuss your project and see how Cal Empire Engineering can help you.

Southern California Facility:

Cal Empire Engineering, Inc.

628 E. Edna Place, Covina, CA 91723

Phone: (626) 915-8030  Fax: (626) 915-8040


Northern California Facility:

Cal Empire Engineering, Inc.

200 Gateway Drive #611  Lincoln CA 95648

Phone: (626) 915-8030


CSLB LIC#1011503    DIR# 1000035725