Contractors should follow regular maintenance guidelines to keep hydroexcavator digging components functioning in top form.
Maintaining hoses, dig tubes and the digging wands are essential to keep vacuum excavators working the best they can. Located at the working end of a hydroexcavator, those three pieces of equipment take on a lot of wear and tear.
When those parts are in good condition, the hydroexcavator runs more smoothly, allowing contractors to accurately complete their jobs in a timely manner. When hoses, dig tubes and digging wands are not cared for properly, the excavator’s overall performance declines, says Mike Selby, inside sales manager for Vac-Con.
“If half of the filter is blocked with material, plan on it affecting your vacuum efficiency by a half,” Selby says. “You spend more time vacuuming than needed if your filters are dirty.”
By not following standard maintenance guidelines on new equipment, a contractor also may void any warranties in place, Selby added. That means he will have to pick up the bill for a repair or part normally covered under warranty.
To keep hoses, dig tubes and digging wands in peak condition, manufacturers share this advice:
1. Check wear
It sounds simple, but looking for signs of wear is vital in maintaining the equipment at the working end of the excavator. “Holes in hoses caused by wear allow outside atmosphere to enter the vacuum hose, causing a reduction in vacuum capacity,” Selby says. “To reduce wear or evenly distribute it, rotate the hoses on your hydroexcavator so that the wear points are never in the same spot.”
Contractors should regularly rotate the excavator’s hoses to evenly distribute the wear.
Tubes take a lot of abuse since they come in direct contact with the hydroexcavator materials. Chris Kay, marketing manager for Super Products, advises looking to make sure there are at least 3 inches of neoprene tip before the metal tube.
Dented tubes are another common problem. Dented tools can cause clogs and limit production since the material cannot fit through the tube. Wands provide the force that breaks up the material to be vacuumed, so keeping them in good condition is vital. All trigger assemblies should be inspected before a job to make sure they are in good working order since a faulty trigger can be dangerous.
“All triggers should be ‘deadman’ type, meaning the trigger faults to off if the operator were to drop the wand,” Selby says. “Inspect nozzle tips. Make sure there is no material blocking the tip so water can spray out.”
2. Inspect the work site
Before starting a job, go to the work area and locate project necessities, such as fuel, water source, the dumping site, spare parts dealers, and local service providers, Selby says.
Once you find that information, share it with operators, so if they encounter a need while on the job, they can easily find it and not lose time tracking down information.
3. Follow maintenance recommendations
This sounds obvious, but Selby says contractors sometimes ignore the information provided in the equipment’s maintenance guide. “My three pieces of advice to all contractors are inspect, inspect, inspect,” he says.
When operators work on a long project, they should frequently check how many hours the machine is accumulating, Kay says. If it reaches a maintenance interval, stop and perform the necessary maintenance — that short break can save a lot of time later on.
4. Take inventory
Before starting a job, contractors should make sure they have spare nozzles, wands, tubes or anything else the project may call for. Having enough of those items plays an important role in making the job successful since less time is lost if something breaks, Kay says.
A little extra training can also cut down on wear. “Train the operator how to properly set up a machine to minimize wear. A little extra truck maneuvering could allow the operator to keep the boom straighter, reducing wear,” Selby says.