There are several types of underground utilities and they are made from different materials. Detection and location methods may also vary and are performed by professional utility locators who use maps and special equipment.
Typically, buried utilities with petroleum products are marked permanently with posts, because damaging them would be very dangerous, due to their content. Metal pipes are detected using electromagnetic equipment and a transmitter, while concrete and plastic pipes are detected by ground penetrating radars and radiolocation.
Buried utilities are also marked with particular colors (orange for telecommunications, blue for drinking water, red for electric lines, yellow for gas and other flammable materials, green for sewage and purple for reclaimed water) as well as flags that help identifying the ownership of the lines.
Utility locating services
People do not do that often digging and excavation projects on their properties therefore many do not realize that they can cause extensive damage by simply digging a hole for installing a fence.
In these circumstances, the answer to the question “Why do I need to call a underground cable locator” is rather obvious. If your property has not been marked recently, you have to call a utility locator, as this is the only thing that ensures safe digging and keeps you away from being fined and held legally responsible for damaging utilities that serve an entire community.
When it comes to contacting utility locators, you have two options.
- Dial 811
This is a phone number that can be dialed from any location in the US and will direct you to public utility locating service. You will talk to an operator, explain what you plan to do in terms of digging/ excavating, provide your address and then, in a few days, you will be visited by professional locators sent by companies that have buried facilities in your area. This public service is free; all you have to do is dial 811 a few days before starting your excavation project. However, there is a downside: public underground utilities are water, electric, gas, and sewer and, if there are other utilities on your property, such as fiber optics or other private buried lines (for heating a pool, providing power for a garage, lighting a parking lot etc.), they will remain unmarked, as public locators do not deal with them. In these circumstances, you must consider a second option.
- Contacting a private utility locator
Private utility detecting services are not free, but you get the advantage of having public and private utilities marked. These companies have quality equipment, trained personnel and use different utility locating technologies, being able to detect even the trickier lines, so you can dig and excavate safely.
Always remember that digging without marking the site for underground utilities may result in very costly damage that may include particularly dangerous hazards such as fire, electrocutions and explosions. A private locating service will ensure your peace of mind and keep you away from problems.