What is trenching excavation and when is it used? We explain.

Trenching and excavation are two words that some of us may often use interchangeably. After all, they are words that we usually hear in different residential or commercial construction projects. But do they really mean the same thing? Or are they different from each other?

Essentially, trenching excavation is the process of digging a hole in the ground to make a cavity for a certain purpose. This can be for the installation of a utility, maintenance and repair work, or for any intent that requires an excavated hole underground. Trenching excavations are possible with the use of manual tools or by using mechanical solutions and heavy machinery.

What is the difference between excavation and trenching?

We get how trenching and excavations are lumped together. After all, they are both man-made processes that are done to dig into the surface of the ground up to a certain depth. However, there is a huge difference between these two terms.

The definition of excavation work

When it comes to excavations, it is the general term we use for the act of digging itself. Excavation work is usually the necessary process we need to do during the construction of foundations, basements, and even for certain landscaping projects. Most often, when an individual digs a hole that is wider instead of deep, this is what we call an excavated area.

Types of excavation work according to its purpose

a) Cut and Fill Excavation

This type of digging work involves the removal of the topsoil and the other debris or rocks on the surface of the area. It uses the process of cutting or stripping away the unwanted materials which can, later on, be used for backfilling.

b) Basement Excavation

This type of digging work involves the process of removing a substantial amount of soil in a particular area to make room for the construction of a basement or any structure located below ground level.

c) Road Excavation

This type of digging work involves the process of excavating the earth’s surface for the construction of a road or embankment. This method is necessary since most surfaces are sloped.

d) Bridge Excavation

This type of digging work involves the removal of any material that will hinder the construction of a bridge in a particular area. This excavation essentially prepares the site for the building work that will take place.

e) Trench Excavation

This type of digging work involves the process of removing unnecessary soil for the construction of a foundation, footing, and other supports that are narrow than what is often considered safe to dig. It is also the type of excavation work that must be done during the installation of pipelines and sewers, utilities, and other similar types of projects.

The definition of trenching work

As mentioned earlier, trenching is actually a type of excavation. Instead of being wide, however, most trenches are deeper than their width. Because of this, they are crucial for utility installations and for projects that require narrow holes. Trenching work is essential for a variety of construction and engineering work.

To make it clear, both excavation and trenching are the process of making a hole or cavity into the ground. Their main differences are rooted in the dimensions of the cavity dug into the ground. Just remember the following: If the width of the hole is greater than its depth, it is an excavation. If the depth of the hole is greater than its width, then it is trenching. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA identifies an excavated area as a trench if it is 15 feet wide or less at the bottom of the dug man-made hole.

The dangers of trenching excavation

Due to the process of digging the earth with different characteristics, soil types, conditions, and other properties, trenching and excavation work is considered to be two of the most hazardous processes in the world.

In some unfortunate accidents, workers and other concerned professionals can be the victim of fatal accidents caused by digging work. Because of this, it is recommended that as much as possible, only qualified experts with years of training and experience should be involved in these types of construction and land preparation projects.

What is trenching used for?

Trenching is usually necessary for the following projects:

The installation of underground utilities

When it comes to installing utilities such as a gas or water line, most of us will have no choice but to have them installed underground. This way, they will be protected and safe from being tampered with. Aside from the installation of utility lines, this method is also helpful during the installation of certain drainage systems.

The construction of underground structures and systems

Trenching is often an essential step to the creation of a foundation wall. Because of this, a team of professional workers will usually have to use their machinery to excavate a hole that will help make the foundation stable and durable.

The maintenance of underground utilities and systems

Since most utilities are installed underground, it may be necessary to retrench when it starts to fail or when it needs to be replaced.

How much should I pay for a trenching?

If you need to trench for a particular project, setting aside some funds for you to hire a professional is highly recommended. After all, you would not want to scrimp on your property’s improvements. But how much will it really cost you to pay for trenching work?

On average, many trenching companies may charge around 5 to 15 dollars per linear foot. This means that the majority of the costs will be subject to the dimensions of the area that will be trenched.  However, not all contractors charge the same rates. Your total expenses will depend on multiple factors such as the following:

Factors that will affect trenching costs

a.     The purpose of the trenching work

One of the primary factors that will influence your total expenses will lie in the type of project you have. Here are some types of installation projects that will require digging work:

      1. Drainage trenching starts at $1,900 per lot.
      2. Water - starts at $600
      3. Electrical - starts at $600
      4. Sewer - starts at $1,400
      5. Gas - starts at $300
      6. Foundations - starts at $4,000
      7. Retaining Walls - starts at $2,900

b.    The experience of the contractor

Professional contractors have the necessary experience and skills for a successful and safe trenching project. It is common for seasoned experts to charge more for labor.

c.     The necessary site preparation

For some projects, it may be essential for you to prepare your site before the trenching work can begin. This happens when there is a lot of trees or debris in your area that is in the way of the excavation.

d.    The materials and equipment

Depending on the type of project you have, you may need to rent heavy machinery to dig your property. You may also have to factor in the labor rates of the skilled machine operator.

e.     The required permits

In some states, it may be required for you to secure a permit, especially when you are digging a narrow trench. Permits usually cost from $500 to $2,000.

When in doubt, always ask a local expert

If you really want to prepare your funds for a rough estimate, you can always get the help of a professional. We will always recommend contacting a local contractor to give you a price estimate. When it comes to trenching, being prepared is always a goal. After all, no property owner would want to stop midway just because of an insufficient budget.