How to Use a Compactor | Learn Everything About Compactor


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People often ask how to use a compactor. The Soil Compactor is the equipment used in civil construction to densify earth, sand, gravel, etc. It is also suitable for the preparation of bases, foundations, curbs, among others. This compaction of soil is essential for constructing the work, such as a shed, buildings, highway, or preparing the concrete slabs sub-base. It is composed of the engine, clutch, gearbox, fuel tank (except electric model), spring set, and the shoe. It is classified as a moving machine. The soil compactor prepares the soil through compaction. This way, after the compression is done, the surface is presented in a balanced way, receiving the material for the covering up. 

For DIY projects, the soil compactor is generally widely used in the first phase of the work, in which usually the process of preparing the land and earthworks is being carried out. Thus, it’s best to learn how to use a compactor. 

What is Compactor?

This machine works in constant impact movement and is specially designed to compact loose soil and gravel. This prevents sedimentation and provides a firm and stable base material for laying foundations, functions, and other structures. The Soil Compactor is very necessary for the first phase of works, in which the land preparation and earthmoving processes are usually carried out. The equipment is essential for preparing land that will receive foundations, landfills, curbs, pipelines, ditches, and the structure of water and sewage installation pipes.

What is a Vibrating Plate?

These machines are used to develop work on sand, gravel, gravel, asphalt, wet concrete, and interlocking pavements. The proper compaction work is carried out by accommodating the debris through its base plate.

How about a Trash Compactor?

The trash compactor is an essential device for all kitchens. It works based on a simple principle: It presses on your waste items with crushing force, reducing their volume significantly. There is nothing worse than overflowing trash cans in the kitchen or having to pick up food waste when the trash bag breaks. 

A trash compactor makes kitchen cleaning easier, so you can start doing the things you love again. You will have a cleaner, fresher kitchen and more time to enjoy life than regularly visit the landfill. Using the trash compactor will hygienically and safely reduce your kitchen waste at the push of a button. Despite these merits, the trash compactor ownership dropped to under 3.5% across the nation by 2009. A major cause of this was many households’ complaints that this equipment encourages bad odors when the trash is left in it for a long time.

How to Use a Compactor

How the Compactor Works

The engine generates and transmits energy through the clutch system connected to a pinion, which, then, engaged in the crown, engages the connecting rod. This then causes the up and down movement until its end, generating impacts on the shoe on the ground.

how to use a wacker plate on soil

How to Use a Compactor

The engine generates energy and transmits it through the joint clutch system that is connected to a pinion. This piece, engaged in the crown, also engages the connecting rod and generates the up and down movement, providing the shoe’s impacts on the ground. At the beginning of a work, attention should be paid to prevent inadequate compaction of the soil. It will help, avoiding depressions, undermining, structural damage, ruptures, in addition to any other damage that may be caused by non-compaction. 

To use a compactor, follow these steps:

  • Fill the equipment with the engine cold and turned off.
  • Start the engine by moving the choke and pulling the handle of the retractable starter rope. This method is for the gasoline and diesel model. For the model with an electric motor, plug it in and press the button to turn it on.
  • Then set the throttle to full speed.
  • Holding the handlebars, guide the compactor through the entire area.
  • To shut down, the equipment’s acceleration lever completely decelerates.

General Compactor Qualities

Fitting in light equipment, the Soil Compactor has this name because it only needs one man to hold and guide it. While leveling and compacting the soil, it is quite easy to operate, safe, and comfortable to work with. 

The handlebars are connected to the soil compactor body by rubber pads with the appropriate density to eliminate the transmission of vibrations from the equipment to the operator’s body as much as possible. This goes a long way in ensuring the operator’s health during the work being performed. Values give great concern throughout the work. With this in mind, this equipment has the best performance, both for advancing the compacted area and fuel savings. 

compacting sub base by hand

Types of Compactors 

 As there are several options of soil compactors available on the market, we will only talk about the main types – which are the most used. Among the existing models, we can mention two types, the soil compactor and the vibrating plate, with the following differences:

how to use a hand tamper tool

Electric soil compactor

It is one of the most sought after for its practicality and versatility.

Gasoline soil compactor

It is possible to find soil compactors that run on gasoline or diesel oil. That is, by burning fuel, they are not major polluters. These types of compactors are recommended for use in short areas, but they are usually more powerful.

Vibrating plates

They are powered by gasoline and are more used for short work on asphalt roads. They are lighter, and their impact on the ground is less, so this shallow compaction equipment is recommended.

There are still rollers, which are the most robust vehicles, but very efficient and safe. Powered by gasoline, they are ideal for long-distance paving due to their agility. It is also important to note that it is not recommended to move a plate compactor while it is on or when it is still warm, as this increases the occurrence of many types of damage. 

How to Purchase the Soil Compactor 

After establishing which type of soil compactor is ideal for your need, the step has come to define how to acquire the material. Equipment rental is very advantageous for those who are starting a project. One of the great advantages is the possibility of always using new products – and the latest generation. Unlike purchasing machinery, when you choose to rent, you will not have losses with the equipment’s depreciation, loss of value, constant maintenance, and expenses with specialized technical assistance. Purchasing the soil compactor also comes with many benefits. And if you’ve settled for this option, doubts may be widespread. But what matters here is to know the type of soil and the size of the space well for deciding which of this equipment will be the best to purchase for your work.

There are several compactors that, most of the time, and the work for which it was designed. It also provides comfort to the worker who operates it, ensuring their safety.

how to compact gravel without a compactor

How to use a compactor: Some necessary precautions 

To use the soil compactor safely, follow the recommendations below:

  • Never use the equipment indoors. Combustion engines generate carbon monoxide – a potentially deadly gas;
  • Do not smoke or create sparks near the machine. The equipment uses flammable liquids and gases;
  • Avoid compacting areas close to ditches, ravines, and slopes, where they offer risks of landslides;
  • When handling the equipment, keep hands and feet away from the machine’s moving parts – always using PPE to operate. This includes safety glasses, non-slip gloves, hearing protection, and work shoes to protect the toecaps.
compactor machine

How to Use a Compactor: FAQ

Can you use a compactor on soil?

Yes. The compactor is the equipment used to compress various soil types, from earth, sands, cement, asphalt, and other sandy or granular type materials with different nomenclatures. In addition to the construction of houses and buildings, they are also used to pave streets and avenues and roads so that there is a good leveling of that soil. This leveling promotes better performance, making the circulation of people or vehicles, or even laying cement, safer. A compacted terrain further prevents water from accumulating, facilitating its flow. This procedure makes it possible to improve the uniqueness of the soil, making it more homogeneous and increasing its resistance.

Should I wet gravel before compacting?

It depends on the situation. If the ground is a bit wet, try to wait for it to dry before compacting. But if it is unavoidable, add a small amount of gravel to help bond the damp surface and reduce the moisture content.

How deep will a plate compactor work?

The efficiency of most plate compactors manufactured today is between 8 and 12 inches total depth compaction. If the capacity is greater than 12 inches, the material must be distributed in layers of the indicated depth. The average performance of this equipment at this depth is 320m² per hour.


In conclusion, the compactor is used for the densification of soil, sand, gravel, and kitchen waste (trash compactor). Very suitable for the preparation of base layers, foundations, sidewalks, pavers, among others – this equipment is widely used in civil construction. If you are still curious about using a compactor, take a look at the highlight above.

Read More: How to Compact Pavers without a Plate Compactor

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