Horizontal Directional Drilling vs. Open Cut Trenching for Sanitary Sewers

September 3, 2020 5:40 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

There are two ways to dig into the ground before laying a sewer line: a professional can use the classic open cut trenching method, or shake things up and use the newer technology of horizontal directional drilling (HDD). Both open cut trenching and directional drilling in Roseville, CA have their advantages, but it’s up to a professional to know when to use each method.

What’s the difference between the two?

As the name suggests, open cut trenching involves cutting a deep trench into the ground before laying down a sewer line, gas line, underground cable or other utility. HDD, on the other hand, is a trenchless process. During HDD, contractors drill a borehole under the ground before pulling the line through the hole. HDD does not impact the soil above or below the utility line, making it a great choice in many locations.

However, just because directional drilling in Roseville, CA is a more environmentally-friendly method doesn’t always mean your drilling contractor will use it. Sometimes, old-fashioned trenching is the best way to go about a job. Continue reading to learn what contractors take into account before beginning a project.


The first thing contractors consider when choosing between HDD or open cut trenching is the location of the project. HDD is perfect for urban locations, where they have to work around roads, buildings and other utility lines. Trenching will usually suffice in rural locations, since contractors don’t have to contend with so many obstacles.

Total cost

A contractor in any industry is always thinking about the total cost of the project. Unfortunately, when deciding between trenching and HDD, the cost is a little bit more difficult to calculate. Operating a trencher costs less and can be less time consuming than a directional driller, but you also have to think about the risks associated with trenching. For example, hitting an existing utility line could wind up costing a fortune to remediate.

Restoration consideration

Contractors have to think about the restoration work required after the line is laid. After a sewer line is laid with a trenching project, workers have to go back in and fill in the dirt and re-sod the grass. This is especially important in an urban location or at a private residence. That’s not a concern with HDD. Since there is no trenching required, the surface is barely disturbed. Workers may have to re-sod the ground where the borehole was started, but that’s it.

Training required

Operating any machinery requires at least a little bit of training. With HDD, though, the learning curve is a bit steeper. Directional drilling requires additional training for specialized electronics and the understanding of color codes for underground marks. Taking time to train workers on how to use directional drilling equipment may take a little bit more time, but it’s worth it in the long run.

We’re the team for your next sewer installation project!

Whether you decide to go with directional drilling in Roseville, CA or open cut trenching, call our team at Es7 Comm-2U, Inc. We provide both services for both residential and commercial clients.

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