Concrete vault designs and uses Columbia Precast ProductsVault structures can be used in a wide variety of applications. From housing electrical or telecommunication wiring to acting as a junction point for water storage, vaults are produced in standard sizes as well as custom sizes for more difficult projects. Vaults are usually shipped in one piece, along with a cover, but can be installed in place as well.

Vaults are outfitted with multiple knockouts, safety ladders for service or maintenance, and unistrut channels for cabling depending on their use. In addition to these accessories, vaults and their covers are created with lifting anchors to make loading, unloading, and installation that much easier.

However, there are some general guidelines that must be followed when installing a Columbia Precast Products vault structure. Almost every situation can be different – especially when it comes to panel or sectional vaults that are delivered in pieces. Use this as a supplement to the production drawings provided.

Precast concrete vaults are made to last a century, but correct installation is important to the structural integrity of each vault. Improperly installed vaults won’t be as efficient and may require re-installation. If these guidelines conflict with the production drawings, use the more restrictive requirements.

Initial Requirements

For excavation, a minimum clearance is required on all sides for all vault installations, check with your local agency requirements. After compacted sand or gravel bedding is put in place, the depth of the excavation must still take into account the height of the vault, risers, and cover. The bedding must be level and shoring must follow all jurisdictional requirements.

Knockouts are provided as specified for all Columbia Precast Products vault structures. To remove knockouts, use a hammer or other similar tool and strike the middle of the knockout. Instead of several lighter hits, a moderate strike to the center will have better results.

Lowering the vault into place

Contractors will provide the cranes and crew for the installation of the vault. Each vault is equipped with lifting anchors for ease of rigging and lifting. Using 4-way cables, the lifting angles should be a minimum of 60 degrees. Anything less than that and the contractor becomes responsible for any damage that may occur.

In the case of sectional vaults that need to be assembled in place, the base will be lowered in first and leveled. To ensure the best sealing, there should be no water present in the excavated area. After the base is firmly in place, the remaining sections are lowered in, starting with the walls and ending with risers, covers, etc.

When sealing the base, walls, and cover, the surfaces must be dry and free of debris. Once the vault has been assembled and sealed, the contractor is responsible for grouting all corners and joints to fill in any gaps and reinforce the sealant.


With the vault properly in place, the backfilling process can begin. Using project approved backfill material, fill in the void between the vault and the existing ground.

Make sure to compact the backfill per the project specifications. If the material isn’t properly compacted, settling could occur, affecting the overall installation in the future. All backfilling is the responsibility of the contractor.

Columbia Precast Products can make all the standard size vault structures as well as custom vaults to fits your needs. However, if installed incorrectly, the structures will not perform as they should. We will deliver the vaults you need and stay on-site to help guide installation for particularly difficult circumstances.

In addition to vaults, Columbia Precast Products also manufactures manholes, catch basins, box culverts, and other pieces for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes. If you have a big job on the horizon, contact Columbia Precast Products. We look forward to working with you.

Click to download as a PDF.