When the winter weather rolls in, it's often time to put the yard projects on hold until spring. Frozen ground further complicates do-it-yourself tasks like installing a fence or tying downspouts into an underground French drain system. But sometimes an emergency situation -- or a recent home purchase -- necessitate digging into the frozen ground for home repairs. It's possible with some construction equipment rentals, but novices should leave the task up to the professionals.
Choose Your Tool: Trencher versus Jackhammer
Two different pieces of construction equipment can help you get through the frozen ground. Choosing the right tool depends on your project needs. A trencher essentially digs a long ditch, or trench, that is the perfect size and shape for plumbing and wiring. So if you need to install an underground French drain, which carries water away from your home's foundation, then a trencher might be the tool for you.
A jackhammer fitted with a spade attachment is often the right choice for precision work. If you need to dig out a spot for a window well near the basement or only need to dig up access to the French drain to tie in a downspout, then the jackhammer might be the right tool. Always discuss your project need with the equipment rental facility to make sure you make the best choice.
Warm the Area
You can make it a bit easier for the tool to do its job by warming the ground overnight before the project. Ask your equipment rental place if they have ground thawing blankets, which are essentially large electric blankets that can help warm at least the upper layers of the ground. The blankets need to be plugged in so an outlet has to be nearby, or accessible via extension cord, for this tip to work.
Wait for Warmth
If even the construction equipment can't dig deep enough into the warmed ground, then you will need to wait for warmer weather. Trying to push too hard can damage the equipment, ruin your ground and pose a greater risk of injury to yourself. Most outdoor projects can wait until at least a week of warmer weather.
You can try contacting a professional contractor for equipment rentals, fence installer or plumber to complete your task. But chances are good that the pros won't have any greater luck at getting through the hard freeze and you will now have to wait for the project and pay a professional.