What is trenching? – What is trenching meant for? Digging a trench 101

what is trenching

What is trenching? Trenching is the art of digging a tunnel that is much deeper than it is wide. The length of the tunnel can be as long or as short as wanted. Basically trenching is used to dig lines for electric cables, sewer lines, freshwater, fiber cables, plumbing, etc. The trenches are usually dug 2 feet in width and about 6 feet deep to place these lines deep underground so that they are not affected by building or construction at the surface level.

Trenching is done both at the single house level and the city level. At the house level, it is done to hide all the plumbing connections, heating system pipes, electricity connections, etc. At the city level, the trenches are dug to accommodate sewer lines and pipes as well as electric lines used by domestic connections.

Most people are aware of trenching which was traditionally used in warfare in the world wars. This is the same type of trench but nowadays they are built to make the lives of people better.

Many modern residential areas, as well as cities, nowadays only install underground cables and sewer lines. Gone are the days of exposed electric lines that used to dangle from the poles. Similarly in most modern residential suburbs houses are nowadays built with sewage systems that are totally underground, instead of utilizing septic tanks.

To build all this trenching is a must. Trenching nowadays is usually done with a machine called an excavator. The excavator takes out the dirt parallel to the scoop of the excavator and then it can also fill in the trench after the sewage and other lines have been installed. In areas where concrete covers the surface under which a trench is required you would need to fully remove the concrete and then go on to dig the trench. This may require either manual or machine drilling to first remove the surface concrete.

What is the difference between excavation and trenching?

Excavation is the removal of the entire soil in an area. It can be to dig a hole, make a trench, dig a foundation of a house, etc. While trenching refers to a specific type of digging or excavation in which the hole is longer than it is wide and also deeper than it is wide. This leads to a specific shape as shown in the image below.

What is trenching?
Photo credits trekkergroup.com

How many types of trenching are there?

The trenches used in modern construction can either be filled, enclosed, or just covered.

  • Filled trenches are filled with either dirt which was previously extracted or they may also be filled with concrete.
  • Enclosed trenches are trenches that are not filled rather they are enclosed by building sidewalls, a floor and a roof. This leads to the conversion of the trench into a tunnel with two walls, a floor and a roof.
  • Covered trenches are just covered at the top with a roof. They don’t have sidewalls. They also don’t have a floor. These are mostly made to reduce costs. But their disadvantage is that they can not be used in areas where roads pass over the trench, or in areas where heavy loads will be placed on the roof covering.

How to dig up a small trench for a house?

If you are just digging a small trench all you would require for the job is a shovel and a pickaxe. Also, make sure to use a construction safety equipment set. Safety glasses are a must.

After getting all the required equipment just go ahead and mark the area where you would be digging and make sure to measure the desired width of the cable or sewer line required. For single house sewer lines, recommended dig is about one foot in width, and about six feet deep. The length will be as required.

When digging manually it’s quite a simple job. When you feel hard soil or rock, use a pickaxe. When you feel the soil is soft enough use a shovel. It is just hard labor.

After you have placed the line or pipe, you should just try to cover the trench with the dirt that you had taken out during digging. You don’t need to go for covered or enclosed trenches if you are just connecting an ordinary house.

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