How to Choose the Correct Hydro Excavation Nozzle

How to Choose the Correct Hydro Excavation Nozzle

When many people think of the "best" piece of equipment for a job, their mind immediately goes to best make, best model. That's not always the case with hydro excavation nozzles.

You might have the ideal make and the ideal model for the job at hand and still end up stuck with an inefficient dig because of your nozzle. How? We'll explain.

How do Hydro Excavation Nozzles Differ?

The Tip

The nozzle's tip controls the way that the water comes out of it. There are several types:

Rotating: With a rotating nozzle, the tip rotates while in use, creating, functionally, a cone of water. The angle of the cone will vary by model. With Hydra-Flex's Ripsaw model, its cone is 18%. Rotating nozzles are ideal for smaller, shallower holes because the cone pattern can cut through the initial layers of dirt efficiently. They is also safer to use around utilities than similarly pressured straight tip nozzles because the rotation ensures that no one place receives the full force of all the water's impact.

Straight-Tip: Straight-tip nozzles are just what they sound like. The water shoots straight out in one solid, continuous blast. This has both good points and bad. The concentrated stream is ideal for breaking through hard, compacted soil that a rotating nozzle might struggle with. It can also offer great precision and dig to greater depth than a rotating nozzle. However, as mentioned above, they are more likely to cause damage when digging around underground utilities and narrower spray covers less surface area at once than a rotating nozzle. A nozzle like Hydra-Flex's Switchblade compensates for that by utilizing multiple straight tip jets in one nozzle.

Oscillating: The oscillating nozzle, in some ways splits the difference between the first two discussed. The oscillating motion creates some of the movement and coverage area of a rotating nozzle. At the same time, the wedge of water created by the oscillation has greater length and penetrating power than a similarly pressured rotating nozzle. It also offers a precision advantage in that the water is only going and forth along one axis rather than moving on both. One example is Hydra-Flex's Machete.

Nozzle Orifice Size

It might be tempting to think that the more gallons per minute the nozzle is shooting out, the greater the digging power. That is not, however, always the case.

It makes sense that the size of the orifices on the jets is proportional to water usage. The bigger the holes through which the water exits, the more water can be sprayed. The opposite is true of pressure, however. A smaller jet orifice creates a more concentrated spray, greatly increasing the force of the spray in relation to the amount of water used.

A lot again depends on the job specifications and the soil that you are digging in. If you are digging in a hard soil that requires a lot of pressure to cut through, a high flow nozzle will likely only result in wasting water. Similarly, if the soil is easy to dig through, using a nozzle with a smaller, more concentrated flow will likely only cause the job to drag on longer than it needs to.

Other Considerations

Those are far from the only differences among hydro excavation nozzles. One major factor is, of course, the quality and durability of the product. This, however, is a case of choosing the right manufacturer and not necessarily the right nozzle.

The Hydra-Flex models discussed above do well in the quality and durability metrics, with the stainless steel bodies and tungsten carbide wear surfaces allowing the nozzle to withstand the harsh conditions they will face during digging.

Looking for Hydro Excavation Nozzles or other Equipment? See Our Selection

Along with the Hydra-Flex nozzles, SewerShop offers an array of digging lances, vacuum tubes, hoses and other assorted equipment to outfit your hydro excavator.

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