How to Prepare Your Hydro-Vac for Seasonal Changes

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Many public and commercial establishments consider building underground infrastructure to safeguard equipment from external elements. Utility professionals must complete this work regardless of weather conditions, which can prove challenging without hydro excavation trucks.

Hydro excavation trucks clear out an area with high-pressure sucking power. However, they are susceptible to seasonal temperature changes. Here’s how to care for them no matter the weather.

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How Do Seasonal Changes Affect a Hydro-Vac?

A hydro-vac is an expensive and durable piece of equipment, but seasonal changes can affect its overall efficiency. Various components, such as the water tank and cleaners, must be well-maintained to withstand the weather.

The time of year can even dictate how the underground utility environment works, with summertime bringing uncomfortable warmth and winter entailing freezing temperatures.

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Anticipating Warm Weather

Warm weather is detrimental to the hydro-vac since the truck already heats up quite a bit. Here are the main preparation practices to avoid overheating in hotter climates.

1. Tire Inspection

Hydro-vac trucks are driven for extended miles to an excavation site. Like most vehicles, tires face extra stress on high-temperature roads due to direct contact. Be wary of long distances, especially in heat-prone areas.

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Hydro-vac operators should take the initiative and assess the tire pressure. The machinery is heavy, which can burden weakening rubber. Add air when necessary and maneuver with care on hotter roads.

2. Cooling System

A cooling system is important year-round to prevent hydro-vac machinery from overheating. However, these features become even more crucial in warm weather since external factors influence the internal system, so check the coolant levels and conditions.

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If they seem low, rest the hydro-vac system first. Cleaning the radiators and fans can optimize cooling efficiency. You may have to change the hydraulic fluid and coolants if they’re no longer working.

3. Filter Replacement

Hydro-vac trucks have strong suction power to remove dirt and debris. However, high temperatures can speed up bacteria growth, contaminating your filtration system. Bad odors also attract pests, further damaging the components.

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A failed filtration system may result in equipment fire. Avoid this by regularly changing filter bags. Conduct inspections to determine whether a more frequent schedule is needed during warm weather.

Prepping for Cold Weather

Freezing weather is less than ideal for hydro-vac trucks, which depend heavily on jetting water to complete excavation. Here are some tips for handling the cold.

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1. Winterization

Hydro-vac trucks should be properly stored away from the cold. However, they must be winterized before being kept in temperatures below 32 F or operated below 20 F. Remove water so the fluids don’t expand as temperatures change.

Open all valves, starting from the main water tank and debris tank. Valves on the passenger sides should be given extra attention. Once opened, you can begin to drain them for the air-out process.

2. Fluid Management

Hydro-vac trucks still need liquids to do their job diligently. Fluids are prone to freezing in cold climates, so special cold-weather fluids are used for the hydraulic system. Give your equipment ample time to heat up as well.

The cooling system will continue to operate for internal heating, but be wary of sudden clogs. Coolants tend to pull in heat when they can’t move freely. To avoid damage, flush out the cooling solutions and get replacements.

3. Snow and Ice Removal

Hydro-vac trucks are susceptible to snow and ice since the vehicles are stationary outdoors during excavation. Shovel the substances away to minimize compacting as time goes on.

Salt can melt snow or ice at lower temperatures. Meanwhile, sand prevents slips and falls among hydro-vac operators and other utility professionals on the premises. Just remember to sweep them off after to avoid pollution. You can reuse it for other excavation sites.

General Mistakes to Avoid

Utility contractors must determine how to mitigate upcoming seasonal changes. However, remember not to overlook basic maintenance practices that keep hydro-vac trucks in good condition. Here are mistakes to watch out for.

1. Forgoing Operator Training

Hydro-vac operators should be trained to use and maintain the vehicle and its mechanics as much as possible. Injuries from contact with equipment are one of the leading causes of work-related deaths and cases.

Seasonal changes can make these trucks more dangerous, so be careful who handles them and how. Hold operator training sessions to ensure employees are safe and the equipment is not damaged.

2. Neglecting Regular Inspections

Run daily prechecks no matter the weather. Hydro-vac trucks are susceptible to shifts, so be on the lookout before using them. Catch potential problems before they worsen.

You can also perform preventive maintenance of the units along with routine inspections. Prevention will result in better efficiency and more savings in the long run.

3. Delaying Reports and Repairs

Don’t ignore issues. Instead, report them to your manager and get repairers on the ground as soon as possible. Avoid using the hydro-vac after a problem is spotted since operations can create further damage.

Delaying reports and repairs may lead to accidents on the excavation site and harm fellow contractors. It can also require replacing a hydro-vac truck when it becomes obsolete.

4. Forgetting Proper Storage and Cleaning

Storage is an essential preparatory step throughout the year. Hydro-vac trucks need a dry and clean environment so all components can continue functioning. Improper storage can lead to corrosion and fuel degradation.

Make a point to clean the hydro-vac, as well. Underground environments can soil the tires and other parts of the exterior. Protect the internal system by cleaning it thoroughly.

Get Your Hydro-Vac Ready for Any Season

Hydro-vac trucks require plenty of maintenance to continue operating in different conditions. These extra steps can go a long way to lengthen the equipment’s life and avoid costly repairs or replacements down the road.

Oscar Collins is the editor-in-chief at Modded. He’s written for sites like Contractor and StartupNation. Follow him on Twitter at @TModded for frequent updates on his work.