How To Use A Trencher

Trenchers are among the most useful specialist items in a contractor’s toolkit. They can effortlessly cut through even the most difficult terrain in a neat and effective manner.

A trencher can handle everything from irrigation to electrical work and even landscaping. But how do they work? Let’s find out!

How To Use A Trencher

What Is A Trencher?

Digging a trench by hand might take quite a long time and/or numerous workers. In comparison, a trencher can be used by one person to complete a project in just a few hours.

Trenchers use a metal chain with a serrated edge to break into the earth. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be used to dig trenches of varying depths and lengths.

Trenching machines are capable of cutting up to 10 feet deep and twenty-six inches across.

They often have an “enhanced operator view”, which is useful in places with difficult soil or where the surface is buried deep under ice and snow. Large “ride-on” trenchers are ideal for high-performance trenching on major projects.

Small skid steer trenching attachments are perfectly suited for shallow trenches, such as those 3 – 4 feet deep.

Small trenchers come in handy when there is restricted entry to the worksite and where disturbance to the surrounding environment must be minimized. Certain walk-behind versions are ideal for trenching with very limited access.

What Can I Do With A Trencher?

Remove Tree Roots

When cutting roots, make sure you have a trencher blade with carbide teeth that is capable of cutting through branches and other subsurface impediments.

Without one of these blades, you risk damaging the trencher machine and maybe breaking teeth off the chain, or breaking the chain completely.

To begin, remove the soil from around the root so that you can easily place the cutting chain and see the obstruction. Start the trencher and hold it in position while the blades rotate.

Slowly advance forward and insert the trencher blades into the root, letting the blades slice through. The earth can now be easily separated from around the cut roots.

Looking at a stump grinder may be a better option for most operators when dealing with stumps and larger rooting systems in your trenching path.

Slice Through Concrete

A trencher is capable of cutting through tarmac, concrete, or pavement. You’ll need a “ground saw” or a “street saw”  to execute this.

A “trencher road saw” has 2 adjacent blades that allow it to slice through the pavement smoothly.

How To Use A Trencher

Protection From Flooding

Water soaks into the soil. Without properly constructed drains or if they’re missing entirely, you risk flooding or marshy conditions recurring or establishing.

Water can cause damage to vegetation and structures if a trench is not in place. After digging up the soil using a handheld trencher, irrigation systems can be installed underneath to enable water to flow.

Hiding Cables

Trenchers are frequently used by power companies to reduce labor and construction inputs so that more time and resources can be devoted to assuring the suitable location and safety of electrical wires.

The thickness of the trench will be decided by the required wiring.

When using a trencher, it’s imperative to make sure there are no gas lines, electrical cables, water pipelines, or sewage systems in the way. Digging through one of these could cost you money, lost equipment, or even your life.

Domestic Landscaping

Rather than straining your back digging up the yard, employ a trencher to save yourself hours of labor. Compact trenching machines are ideal for gardening and landscaping.

Wear proper clothing when operating a trencher, especially closed-in boots, a long-sleeved jacket, a safety helmet, and safety glasses. Before you hire a trencher, take the time to understand how to use the trencher’s primary working capabilities.

How To Use A Trencher – Step By Step

  1. Point the trencher in the desired direction and elevate the chain. The chain is designed to spin in the direction of the operator and must not be activated if the trencher is moving forward.
  2. Lower the trencher chain into the trench. The machine will move into a flat position as the chain digs into the earth. If a larger trench is required, repeat the process by tilting the trencher backward until the desired depth is reached.
  3. When the trencher has reached the desired depth, you can start slowly reversing. When you’re finished trenching, lift the boom and set the motor to standby. The engine can then be turned off.

If the machine feels dragged down or the chain decelerates, stop moving. When your machine is up and running again, you can shift the drive into reverse and continue digging.

Furthermore, when stones and dirt obstruct the device and slow things down, reverse the trenching chain to push the material away. While it’s running, under no circumstances place your fingers, feet, or equipment anywhere near it.

If material remains lodged after reversing the trenching chain, lower the boom, stop the chain and/or machine, and then start carefully clearing debris. 

With the material safely removed you can continue your work!

Ryan Genkin
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