Can You Use Directional Drilling in the Winter?

September 10, 2019 11:42 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Directional drilling offers a much simpler, faster way to drill for underground utilities without requiring very much surface disruption—but can this type of project be done in the wintertime? Although the Roseville area is less frigid than northern climates, it still freezes regularly. Even if there’s no snow to obscure your locate lines, it can still be a problem. Frozen ground puts extra stress on your machine, and cold can also make it more difficult to operate. In turn, this can add to your labor and equipment costs. Luckily, with some smart adjustments, your winter directional drilling project in Roseville, CA can be successful.

Get the right equipment

With frozen ground, having the right equipment is key—the ground is harder and it can take longer to drill the pilot bore. This can be solved by using dirt bits, or blades that have carbide blocks on the sides. Other tools use carbide “shoes” that protect the blade and can be easily replaced as many times as necessary, or are designed to fracture rocks as it digs.

The drill string can also be a problem—it takes a beating as it goes into the ground, resulting in binding issues. This can be solved by regularly changing out the lead rod on the drill string, especially in cold weather conditions.

Lubrication is key

Cold weather affects the lubrication fluids in your equipment, so it’s crucial that you use the right kind of metalworking fluid. This includes anti-freeze and thread lube in addition to dill fluids. The freezing air can cause the fluid to thicken and become sludgy, which can stop up the machines. In turn, this reduces the machine’s performance and slows down production.

This can be solved by using specially-formulated, arctic-grade lubrication fluids that are designed for subzero temperatures. We recommend keeping them in a heated area to prevent them from freezing or becoming slushy.

Other helpful tips

In addition to equipment and the proper lubrication, there are other precautions that can make your winter directional drilling project a success:

  • Heaters: Drill rigs should be equipped with block heaters to keep the engine able to turn over. Drill support trucks should also be insulated, with a diesel- or electric-powered heater.
  • Change out the fluids as necessary: Any time your equipment won’t be used for several days, or will be left out in the cold, the fluid should be dumped out and winterized with anti-freeze.
  • Temporary shelter: In extreme cold, some contractors will build temporary shelters to keep the ground pliable enough to drill.

For more information about everything that’s involved in the winter directional drilling process and what you need to consider before you begin any directional drilling projects in Roseville, CA this winter, we encourage you to contact the team at Es7 Comm-2 U, Inc. We’d be happy to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have about your upcoming winter directional drilling project. We look forward to working with you soon and ensuring your project is a success!

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