Air Vacuum VS Hydro Vacuum Excavation Which One Is Better?

Vacuum excavation is the process in which water or air is used to soften the soil and then is removed through a vacuum. This method is much safer than traditional mechanical digging as many accidents can be avoided by adopting this method of excavation.

This blog aims to explain the difference between hydro excavation and air excavation.

Why Vacuum Excavation?

You run the risk of damaging underground utilities with mechanical digging, vacuum excavation eliminates this risk.

Vacuum excavation is cost-effective with a higher level of precision compared to traditional mechanical excavation methods.

This method of excavation is not just cost effective but also very safe for workers to perform thus it is very suitable for companies.

Air vs Hydro Excavation

Hydro Vacuum Excavation is a method in which high pressure water is used along with a vacuum. The high pressure water displaces the soil which is then transferred to the debris tank using a vacuum.

In air excavation, high pressure air is used to displace the soil which is then removed by the vacuum and transferred to the debris tank. So you must be thinking, which one is better? There are many different opinions regarding this topic. Below we will compare the different features so you can decide which one is best suited for you.


Safety always comes first. It is always the number one priority on job sites. If excavation is being performed on a site which is near underground electrical wires then air excavation should be preferred since air is not a conductor. This way any mishap due to electric shock can be avoided.

Air excavation is also carried out on such sites where there is a possibility of a chemical reaction between water and other materials.

Conditions Of The Soil

Every site is different and may require different procedures for excavation. It has been observed that for loosely compacted soil or sand, air excavation is preferable.

Compared to this, hydro vacuum excavation is more versatile. It can break down hard and compact sand, clay and rocky soil.

Impact On Its Surroundings

Sometimes it is very important to preserve the surrounding area. If you are excavating on a site near trees, buildings or other utilities air excavation is preferred.

Efficiency Of Work

Many workers prefer hydro excavation because it has the ability to move soil faster, this is only suitable for excavation as refilling the site can be very slow. On the other hand, the excavation process can take some time, but refilling can be done in a shorter span of time.


It is important to evaluate your resources before opting for any method of excavation. Hydro excavation can be expensive as it requires frequent refilling of water, which is not the case for air excavation.

About Ghost Hydrovac

Ghost Hydrovac provides hydrovac excavation, directional drilling, and pressure washing services to telecom, hydro, oil, gas, and construction companies throughout BC.

We specialize in telecom industry work, which involves cable pulling, conduit repair, line locating, vault replacement, and cutting and replacing concrete. We also provide complete FSA packages. We focus on quality, safety, communication, and customer satisfaction to ensure you receive the best services possible.

We are the best hydrovac company in Edmonton. We have been working with industry leaders such as AFL Global, ATCO, BC Hydro, and Fortis Gas, as well as municipal and provincial governments.

Service areas



Need Hydrovac Services?
Call Us Now