Olsson Associates


Olsson’s Drilling team takes on the challenge of winter

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Linda Van Hoosen, Communications

With most projects, large or small, Olsson’s design teams need to know as much as they can about the land they are building onto. It’s important to know about existing subsurface soil, bedrock, or other ground conditions before construction begins.

It’s important for teams to know what’s under the surface all year round – even in the dead of winter, which can be quite challenging.

“Locating bore holes can be difficult or may require some snow removal,” said Mike Sorgenfrei, Lincoln Drilling team leader.

For Olsson’s Drilling team, winter is one of its busiest and most challenging times. The winter season can be better because some areas have easier access than during warmer months.

Keeping an auger, core rods, and water from freezing can be difficult.


Visibility can be a challenge while drilling.



















“In the spring and summer, there are crops in the fields,” said Mike. “So, if you’re doing any soil borings at a new development, you’ll end up paying for crop damage. Sometimes we will wait until the crops are gone in the fall and winter. Some designers will want a geotech report done now before construction on the project begins in the warmer months.”

You have to move fast before the wet soil freezes on the augers.











 Winter-time drilling can be a challenge for a couple reasons. First, there’s scheduling.

“You might tell the client you’ll be on-site Monday, but then the temperature drops way down,” said Mike. “When it gets below freezing, it’s too cold to drill, and this tends to push the schedule out.”










Another challenge with extremely cold temperatures is the risk to employee safety and the equipment. The Olsson Drilling team is used to working in frigid conditions, but when it gets too cold, the team is in danger of frostbite and hypothermia. Extreme cold can also affect the machinery.

Even getting a five gallon bucket of water can be a challenge.










                                            "A lot of drilling we do uses water. When it gets too cold, you can’t pump water without it freezing the equipment. Some of the big drills use hydraulic pumps, and when it gets too cold, the hydraulic fluid gets very thick. The thick fluid can build up internal pressure, which can cause damage to the equipment."

Despite all of the challenges that come with drilling in the winter, Mike says the team likes working in the colder months. He says they get used to the weather extremes in winter and summer.

Mike says while winter is a good time to drill in certain areas, it’s best to keep in mind that the extreme cold will affect scheduling and cause delays.

If you’d like more information about Olsson’s drilling services, please contact Mike at 402.401.6705 or msorgenfrei@olssonassociates.com.


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