What You Need To Know About Using Auger Attachments Safely

Posted on: 18 December 2018

Augers are one of the most useful attachments available for skid steers. They're excellent for digging post holes for fencing or for planting trees. In order to get the maximum service life out of your auger attachment, you'll need to operate it correctly. Improper operation can lead to severe damage to your auger or even your skid steer. To help you protect your investment and use your auger attachment safely, here's what you need to know.

Have All Underground Utility Lines Marked

It's very important to make sure that all underground utility lines have been marked by your local utility companies before you use your auger. Drilling into an underground electric cable can result in serious injury. You also need to watch out for old septic systems or underground fuel tanks that may have been abandoned. You can often receive this information from your county surveyor.

Only Operate Your Auger While Inside Your Skid Steer And No Bystanders Are Near

Your auger should only be operated when you're safely sitting in your skid steer, and nobody else should be within 25 feet of the auger while it's digging. An auger can fling debris (like small rocks) a considerable distance away from the hole you are digging, and these can injure people nearby. There's also the risk of drilling into landscaping fabric or an old wire fence that has been buried, which can tangle around the drill bit, entrap people standing nearby and draw them closer to the auger. You're protected when you're sitting safely inside your skid steer, but others need to stay far away from the auger while you're drilling.

Make Sure Your Hydraulic Drive's Transmission Has Adequate Oil

The auger attachment's hydraulic drive requires lubrication in order to protect it from friction during operation. Modern hydraulic drives are capable of running even with no transmission oil in the unit, so it's not always immediately obvious that you're using a drive with no oil in it. Unfortunately, operating an auger with no transmission oil will rapidly cause damage to the hydraulic drive. In order to protect the drive, check the transmission oil before you use your auger and ensure that the level is adequate.

Check Your Drill Bit For Wear Before Using Your Auger

The drill bit used with your auger attachment has two components that wear down. The pilot point on the tip of the drill bit and the teeth on the underside of the bit will both wear down. If you often dig through compacted soil or heavy rock, you'll wear these components out faster.

Before you use your auger, make sure both the pilot point and the teeth on the drill bit are in good condition. Most manufacturers include wear indicators on these components. If they have worn down to the wear indicator or if they look significantly deformed, it's time to replace them. Since the pilot point on the drill bit is responsible for guiding the drill and ensuring it digs straight down into the soil, using a drill bit with an eroded pilot point will result in all of your holes being dug at an angle. This can ruin your entire project if you were using your auger to dig fence posts.

Operate Your Auger Properly To Protect Your Skid Steer And Hydraulic Drive

There are two things you need to do in order to protect your hydraulic drive and skid steer while using your auger.

The first is that you should never attempt to drill through an obstruction through brute force. You'll overheat the hydraulic motor by running it at maximum torque for too long. Instead, switch out the drill bit on your auger to one that's more suited to cutting through rock.

The second is to never attempt to free your auger from the ground by simply lifting it. If your auger becomes trapped in a tree root or beneath some rock, you'll need to reverse the operation of the drill and gently lift the auger out of the ground. Using your skid steer to lift a trapped auger out of the ground places a large amount of strain on the hydraulic drive, which can cause it to fail.

Augers are engineered to be easy to use and very durable. With a bit of care during operation, you can expect a long service life from an auger attachment. If you're not already using one for your skid steer to make the process of digging post holes or planting trees much easier, consider contacting a skid steer attachment vendor to find one that your skid steer supports. An auger attachment can significantly speed up construction projects that require digging.

For more information, contact a company like Unlimited Fabrication LLC.