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Super efficient pool cleaning using vacuum excavation at a girls boarding school in Berkshire.

12th Jan 2021

Vacuum Excavator

First time vacuum excavation challenge for Olympic sized pool. 

Vac UK most often use their Vacuum Excavators on civil engineering and infrastructure sites, in particular on the Highways, Rail, Airports and Utility sector where the suction excavators are used for excavating around live utilities but increasingly they are also called into more unusual one off jobs for private and prestigious homes and establishments across the length and breadth of the UK.  Doing something for the first time is always a little nerve-wracking, but the Vac UK team enjoys a challenge, and when they were engaged to clean a pool filtration system for a 10 x 25 metre olympic sized swimming pool ,  in a famous girls boarding school in Berkshire they were more than happy to take the plunge, despite never having undertaken the type of work before.

Urgent Vac Ex Job job to get pool ready for school term

The client was a top-flight independent girl’s school in Berkshire set on 110 acres of beautiful woodland overlooking the historic Berkshire Downs – alumnae include Clare Balding and Miranda Hart – and the challenge was to get the pool filtration system replaced in good time during the Christmas holidays so the girls would be able to get straight back to their swimming when term started.

Girls Boarding School Berkshire grounds
Girls Boarding School Berkshire grounds

Vacuum excavator amazingly completes the work in one day instead of two. 

The water is filtered through a giant tank of sand, which acts like a very fine sieve, catching debris before the water is passed through a chemical dosing system and returns to the pool. Vac UK’s Joanne Ashford had the task of quoting for the job, which involved removing all 10 tons of sand from the giant tank. “It was hard to quote as this was the first time we’d done this kind of work,” she says. “I booked two days, because I knew we’d need extension pipework and that isn’t always easy, but in the end we completed the work in just one.”

Using a vacuum excavator with an extension hose saved damaging school lawn. 

Vac UK, vacuum excavator hire companies, suction excavators can come with up to 200 metres of extension hosing which allows the suction hose to reach difficult to access and remote locations. It also has the benefit of allowing the vacuum excavator to be parked away from the suction zone which saves driving over and ruining the well kept lawn.

Allowing the Vac Ex to be parked away from the suction site solves access issue and saves school lawn.
Allowing the Vac Ex to be parked away from the suction site solves access issue and saves school lawn.

Experienced vacuum excavator crew drafted in to complete job in record time.

Vac UK prides itself on the high standard of all its drivers, but knowing this was an unusual job the firm sent along two highly experienced team members, Karl Murphy and Adrian Lewis who together have nearly 15 years of vacuum excavator operation under their belts.

Vacuum excavation turned out to be the perfect method for this type of work. “We were able to lay the extension pipework across the school lawn and straight into the pool house,” Joanne says. “We used a reducer so the hose diameter was small enough to fit into the tank’s point of entry. And because we only needed to use one point of entry to the filtration system, it didn’t matter that the extension pipework meant the power arm was disabled, as we didn’t need to move it around.”

Vac UK, Vac Ex hire company vacuum excavator
Vac UK, Vac Ex hire company Vacuum Excavator

Powerful vac ex makes easy work of girls hair !

It is recommended that pool filtration systems should be changed every five years, but it had been eight since this one had been renewed. Despite huge amounts of hair matting the sand together – an inevitability at a girl’s school pool – Vac UK was able to remove all the sand in just six hours, a testament to the power of suction excavation.

Confined space engineer bravely climbs into tank to complete the vacuum excavation job

The tank needed to be completely sand-free, so that new moving parts could be fitted. A confined space-trained engineer climbed into the tank at the very end to move the last of the sand towards the exit hole, and an air lance was used to get the last dregs in the bottom.

Vacuum Excavator
Vacuum Excavator which can be used to safely suction waste without damaging any live utilities.

After Vac UK had finished its part of the project, getting 10 tons of new sand back into the tank proved a far more arduous and long-winded job for the school’s subcontractor. The sand had to be taken into the pool house by wheelbarrow and then shovelled into the tank manually. In stark contrast to the easy six-hour removal by vacuum excavator, replacing the sand took one worker five days. Had the school used manual methods to remove the sand as well, there would not have been enough time to refill the pool, re-heat it, and test the new filtration system before term started.


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