What to Look for in an Excavation Nozzle

Manufacturers offer many niche nozzles for contractors to choose from, depending on the job

What to Look for in an Excavation Nozzle

When looking at what nozzle attachments to go with, a hydroexcavation or air excavation contractor has many choices, and none of them are easy ones. Contractors need to take into account what will work with their equipment and soil conditions, for instance.

As technology advances and operators get more precise about what they are looking for, manufacturers are responding with a broad array of products, says Jim Zylstra, sales and marketing manager for Ring-O-Matic.   

“Nozzles keep advancing to be more specialized to meet customers’ needs,” he says.

For example, Ring-O-Matic’s Viper model, released in 2015, combines the power of water to excavate a hole with a vacuum that pulls the debris out of the hole.

“It takes what was once a two-man job and makes it a one-man job since you only need one person, instead of one doing excavating and one doing the vacuuming of the debris,” Zylstra says. “It’s a cleaner method and safer since there’s no debris flying around.”

Zylstra says his company did a lot of research into current nozzles on the market, as well as customers’ needs as it developed the Viper.

“Operators need to consider so many factors with picking a nozzle, such as the depth of the hole needed, the soil type and durability,” he says. “Getting the answers to those questions will help with the selection.”

Keeping Debris Out

Keeping debris out of the nozzle is an important factor in many nozzles on the market. Water Cannon Inc. - MWBE modified its turbo nozzle with a spring that keeps tension against the top of the nozzle and keeps dirt from getting in.   

“What really kills nozzles so they don’t have a long life is that the dirt gets in there,” says Mark Williams, Water Cannon Inc. - MWBE’s national sales and product manager. “The new nozzle can be used in all kinds of soil, which is important.”

Several Options Available

When selecting nozzles, operators have a lot to consider, including how many gallons per minute they plan to push through the nozzle and the machine’s pressure, Williams says.

“If you know that, we can figure out the size of nozzle that you will need,” he says.

NozzTeq uses orbital rotation on the inside of its nozzles to clean out holes.

“We’ve made it so our nozzles are rebuildable and last longer,” says Scott Paquet, president and CEO. “We can replace the rotor on the inside that does all the work and it can then last three to 12 months, depending on how often it’s used and what it’s used for.”

As the nozzle works, it circles around and gets faster, creating a cone shape that clears the dirt out of the way, Paquet adds.

“As technology advances, the nozzles work faster, allowing operators to get their work done more quickly,” he says.

Seventeen years ago, Belinda Bain and her company, California Hazardous Services, were on a job site having difficulty digging using available hydroexcavation tools. She and her crew went back to the shop and fabricated a water ring with six jets boring inward to cut the soil and six jets boring outward to get the tube down. The new tool bore down 10 feet in one minute and the crew completed the job. The Soil Surgeon was born.

While the Soil Surgeon has remained relatively the same since Bain first invented it, a few years ago she developed another model, the Soil Surgeon Model X2. Once again, the idea came from a tough job — working on storm drains near the ocean. Bain redesigned the Soil Surgeon’s water ring with the tips now boring upward, outward and downward to clean the entire drain by just inserting the tool and maneuvering it up and down.

“These new storm drains have screens in them that get caked with dirt and sludge,” Bain says. “The traditional way of cleaning them is very tough as the space is very small. With the Model X2, you drop it into the bottom of the drain and vacuum out all of the debris that you have cleaned off walls and the filter.”


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