From the Experts: Maintenance Tips for Vacuum Excavators

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Vacuum excavators work in some of the most extreme and dirtiest conditions. From freezing temperatures in remote areas, to dusty off-road locations in scorching temperatures, vacuum excavators can get the job done. Just as with any other piece of mechanical equipment, maintenance is crucial to help ensure your unit will be up to the task when you need it.

Things like routine greasing of bushing and bearing surfaces will prevent premature wear and failure. Furthermore, maintaining a proper oil change and filter replacement schedule will keep the blower and hydraulic system clean and long lasting.

Maintenance Personnel

When considering vacuum excavator maintenance, it’s important to focus on the tools and material resources available to those tasked with keeping the machine operational. Service technicians should be strongly encouraged to take advantage of any available factory training. Evan a great mechanic can benefit from training that is tailored for a specific product, and a well-trained technician is a benefit to both owners and vacuum excavator manufacturers.

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control panel on a TRUVAC vacuum excavator

Service and maintenance timetables vary by component. The control panel on a TRUVAC vacuum excavator includes decals outlining daily service checklists and weekly grease points, and blower oil service, as well as a large screen with troubleshooting capabilities.

Maintenance Timetables

Service and maintenance timetables vary by component. TRUVAC provides a comprehensive hourly guide with all of its operating manuals. Additionally, all lube points are clearly labeled with recommended maintenance intervals. There are also daily items to inspect and clean, such as the blower filtration system (filter and cyclone).

Hoses and safety equipment should be inspected prior to the start of every day. This inspection is critical to ensuring safer and more efficient operation. Many hydroexcavation contractors have included this inspection as part of their DOT pre-trip inspection.

Major Check Points

The filtration system and vacuum hose are the primary check points. The filters should be cleaned daily to ensure proper protection of the blower system. The vacuum hose sees the most abuse during the vacuum excavation operation, so these components should be reviewed for integrity daily.

Any abuse on the filtration system will allow material to carry over through the blower, which reduces blower performance. Changing the filters per the manufacturer’s recommendations is key to a long-lasting vacuum excavator.

Handguns and water lances should also be inspected to ensure they are in proper and safe working order.

TRUVAC float balls

Visually inspect float balls in the debris body to ensure they can freely move in their cages, and visually inspect the body level indicator to ensure the float balls can freely sweep as the debris body fills.

Air vs. Hydro Maintenance

Air and hydro vacuum excavators have similar maintenance, with the major difference being the media system.

With a hydro-excavator, there is a water tank and water pump that must be periodically maintained such as cleaning or replacing filters and water pump oils.

TRUVAC vacuum excavator

Maintaining a proper oil change and filter replacement schedule will keep the blower and hydraulic system clean and long lasting.

Similarly, an air excavator has an air compressor with filters and oil that will need to be periodically checked and replaced. Air excavators do require a little more focus on the filtration system as the material being vacuumed is lighter and has more of a tendency to fill up in these areas.
Dealer Support

The same team that aided in the buying process can be a great resource in after-sale needs like service and maintenance. It’s important to select an equipment manufacturer that offers training and 24-hour service support. Contractors need peace of mind that the equipment will be adequately supported by the manufacturer.

An expansive network of dealers has been carefully selected to sell TRUVAC machines across the United States and Canada.

Nick Bruhn is product manager and Ed Legner is service manager for TRUVAC.

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