Excavating in the winter can be difficult, especially if the ground is frozen. Even soft soils will become extremely hard, making a sort of concrete-like barrier you’ll need to dig through to get your job done.
That being said, it can still be done—you’ll just need excavation equipment and trenching machines capable of generating the high forces needed to get through the denser ground. While it might make more sense in some situations to just wait until the ground thaws to begin the project, there are other circumstances in which the project cannot be delayed.
Here’s some information from our company specializing in excavation rentals in Monroe, LA about some of the methods most commonly used to excavate frozen ground:
- Dig buckets: Standard dig buckets are occasionally used for excavating frozen ground, but they tend to be the least effective method of getting the job done. Unless there are sharp teeth on the bucket that have specifically been designed for cutting through frozen ground, you’re not going to get very far. This method is very hard on both the machine and the operator, which is why it’s typically not a recommended option.
- Frost bucket: Frost buckets are dig buckets that have those sharp digging teeth for frozen ground. However, there is a constant banging motion that occurs during this digging process, which makes it hard on the machine and operator alike. While it might be effective in some applications, it’s going to take a very long time when the ground is hard.
- Static ripper: A single-tooth ripper achieves easy penetration, but the clawing motion can be hard for the operator and machine, and it will be slow when working on permafrost and frozen soil. You’ll need a larger machine than you typically would to get this done.
- Rotary cutter: Using a rotary cutter to chip away at layers of frozen ground might be a viable option, depending on how hard the ground is. However, it will be a very slow-going process even if the ground isn’t frozen extremely deeply.
- Hydraulic hammer: This method provides some extra brute force impact and punches holes in the frozen ground, but the process of prying chunks of hard ground loose will result in damage to the chisel point.
- Hydrovac: A hydrovac requires extremely specialized equipment and a team with the knowledge of how to use it. The process involves pumping hot water into the ground and using a suction to remove the material. It could result in water contamination on site, and properly disposing the excavated materials can be challenging.
- Hydraulic rippers: This is the most effective means of excavating a frozen site. This process involves using vibrations to create space between the frozen earth and the ripper tool. This is a relatively new technology that places minimal stress on the operator and equipment and outperforms most other hydraulic attachments and methods in frozen ground removal.
For more information about excavating in the winter, contact Ram Rent-All, Inc. about our available excavation rentals in Monroe, LA.