Harris Precast, Inc.

Why do I Need a Burial Vault?

In most areas of the United States and Canada, a cemetery requires the casket to be enclosed within a burial vault or grave liner. There are vast differences in these two products. By definition a burial vault is a lined and sealed unit that is specifically engineered to support the weight of the earth above the grave as well as the heavy equipment that passes over it.

The weight of the earth and heavy equipment used to dig graves far exceeds what an unprotected casket can withstand. A burial vault made of specially formulated, reinforced concrete is designed to support these elements and more.

Concrete becomes stronger as it continues to cure after being placed in the ground; so a vault properly buried years ago could actually be stronger today. Doric water-resistant, lined burial vaults are made to guard against impact and moisture.

All Doric vaults are made to exceed cemetery requirements for strength and rigidity.

What happens during the burial process?

To understand the need for a burial vault, let’s explain what takes place at a cemetery before, during and after a graveside service.

The grave service or cemetery workers will open a loved one’s grave using a backhoe or other type of mechanical equipment. A backhoe can weigh up to 25,000 pounds. As it passes over the grave, it not only exerts tremendous dynamic or moving load, but possibly extreme impact loads while digging adjacent graves.

The burial vault is delivered to the grave just prior to the service. The vault is carefully moved to the gravesite and placed on a lowering device positioned over the freshly dug grave. Each Doric Vault includes a nameplate with the name, birth date and death date of the deceased. Other personalization such as life or religious symbols may be placed on the vault before delivery.

Cemetery workers return to the grave, fill it with soil and compact it. Later, sod is placed on the grave, or it is re-seeded.

How does a Doric burial vault work?

The structural design of the burial vault supports the weight of the earth above the casket by:

  1. The weight and design of the vault
  2. Use of reinforced concrete
  3. The use of sealing and lining materials

The weight of the earth above a grave can exert tremendous pressure. Mechanical equipment, backhoes and delivery trucks can exceed 25,000 pounds as they pass over the grave. Doric burial vaults weigh between 2,300 and 2,700 pounds. They are designed to support these tremendous forces from above.

Some of the most important reinforcement in burial vaults lies in the vault cover. The covers of Doric Vaults employ primary and secondary reinforcement to help support the loads from above. In addition, the design of the burial vault cover and carapace distributes pressure from above evenly over the vault surface. Additional reinforcement is placed in the concrete itself.

The use of lining and sealing materials places the most efficient resources available between the outside forces of weight and water
and the casket that has been placed inside. Linings and butyl seals merge the cover and base of the vault into a water-resistant unit. They work together to keep the effects of outside elements from damaging the casket and its contents.

How does a Classic Metal Vault Work?

Air seal vaults work very simply. The casket is placed on the base of the vault. The base elevates the casket above the level of the grave bottom. When the dome is placed in the base, it latches in place. The dome traps air inside the vault. Because air and water cannot occupy the same space, any water which enters the grave is kept away from your loved one’s casket.