Different Backfilling Techniques in Foundations and Trenches

January 29, 2018

The work is done, the pipes or cables are in place, and it's getting late. A casual observer wouldn't be surprised if the extracted soil was nonchalantly shoveled back into the open ground, thus removing any possible danger. But that's not how this final stage operation goes, not even close. No, a meticulously handled backfilling technique addresses the issue. Be that casual observer for a moment, and watch the process.

Closing Structurally Critical Trenches

Exposed underground structures and ground-based appurtenances will soon support a substantial load. Today, however, the stress is intended to impact these foundations temporarily, then it will pass as the backfill treatment works around the below-ground structures. Indeed, this is a critically important period, a time when a heavy excavator could crack a just built wall, drainage pipe, or some other momentarily vulnerable foundational asset, so extreme caution must be practiced during this work.

The Extractor Governed Technique

This is the method that our observer will likely see in action around the foundations and trenches that girdle a construction project. Of course, this is a mechanically stressful procedure, so expert backfilling teams are mandated here, with the select team using a prudent work system to coax the soil into place. Ground compaction comes next, with the chosen machine using an intelligently managed ground layering method to protect the contents of the trench. Correct soil types, debris-free fillers, and water-compaction techniques act as key backfilling aids this time around. Pressed down by a weighted assembly, perhaps a 'jumping-jack' compactor, the ground is levelled while the buried utility line is protected.

Employing Water Jet Backfilling

When the land requires shaping, a long rod and shaped nozzle is selected from the tool arsenal. Connected to a pressurized water supply, the water jetting equipment forces the ground soil to flow and fill the trench. This is a non-destructive alternative to the extractor-facilitated method, but there are drawbacks to remember before picking up that rod and hose. First off, the ground is transformed into mud. If there's clay in this sloppy muck, soil plasticity will be impacted by the procedure. Furthermore, there's no compaction feature on offer here, so some mechanical work may still be on the cards before the day is done.

Somewhere between mud and soil compaction, a third option is available. This is the flowable fill, the liquid cement that's unloaded by a site ready-mix truck. It reverses into place, swings a chute over the foundations, then it unloads this quick-hardening mix. Whichever backfilling technique is selected, though, know that this is a delicately managed process. There's bedding to apply to utility trenches, heavy particle loads to shift around exposed appurtenances, and compaction procedures to apply. Make no mistake, this is delicate work.

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