A trained utility locator will visit your site when a site visit has been booked to determine if a full locate is achievable based on site conditions. If the conditions are suitable, ground penetrating radar will be utilized to scan the ground surface and detect the location of an object. This information is then recorded or mapped to produce a clear picture of regions to avoid when excavating or doing other invasive groundwork.
How does utility locating equipment work?
The most often utilized utility finding tool is ground penetrating radar (GPR). When a radar signal is sent into the ground being scanned, it is reflected back to the receiver when it hits an object. The information gathered reveals the location of an object.
Is utility locating hard?
In order to correctly find subsurface goods such as utilities, specific technology such as ground penetrating radar is required. While anybody may use a GPR device, not everyone knows how to use it properly. Call the specialists at GPRS for your utility locating needs instead of risking hitting underground utilities or other hidden things!
How much does utility locating cost?
Private utility locates performed by contractors like as GPRS can cost several thousand dollars. Utility locates aren’t cheap, but they’re a critical service that should be handled by a professional. A full locate might save you time and money by avoiding subsurface utility damage.
Are utility locates free?
Locating public utilities through services like 811 is completely free. Contractors such as GPRS perform private utility locates, which are compensated services. It’s crucial to know the difference between public and private utilities so you can get the full range of finding services you require.
What is utility locating?
The discovery of subterranean utilities and other subsurface findings using ground penetrating radar and related instruments is known as utility locating. Utilities and other discoveries can be identified and labelled in a safe and non-destructive manner.
What type of utilities can be located?
Electric, steam, communications, water, gas & oil, sewer & storm, and a variety of additional major and secondary utility services can all be detected using private utility locating.
When are utility locates required?
Before beginning any ground-breaking activity, utility locates should be completed. While utility locating rules differ by location, it is safer and wiser to scan before beginning work. This could encompass anything from digging a flower bed to undertaking extensive excavation work. If you’re digging 16 feet or deeper, you should use a utility locater.
How long are utility locates good for?
Utility locates are genuine if correct marks or plans are present, and no utilities have been added or withdrawn. Temporary markings can be made with flags and paint, or a more permanent record can be made to preserve utility location data.
How does surface area impact utility locating?
Utility locating equipment is used to scan the surface of the earth to see what’s beneath it. While the size of the surface area can affect the length of time it takes to complete a scan, the number of subsurface results has a higher impact. Due to the complexity of subterranean utilities present, scanning a smaller metropolitan area may take longer than scanning an empty plot of land.
Does the type of utility being located have any impact on the locating process?
Because of the signal they emit while interacting with GPR equipment, certain materials are simpler to locate. Electrical wiring, for example, may be easier to detect than non-conductive PVC plumbing. Certain utilities are buried deeper than others, and detection may necessitate the deployment of additional scanning equipment.
Does weather impact utility locating?
The accuracy of GPR and other utility locating devices is affected by weather conditions. The equipment has a tougher time picking up a signal when it is wet. In wet or snowy weather, doing a utility locate may be impossible. An expert technician will be able to tell if the conditions are suitable for locating utilities.
What other factors have an impact on utility locating?
Before executing a utility locate, consider the topography and conditions of the ground, the weather, the type of utility being located, and the depth of the area. GPR professionals with experience will be able to tell if the conditions are suitable for utility locating.
What is the accuracy of utility markings?
A mark out can be made solely on the basis of records, which may or may not be correct. Even if location technologies are utilized, it is possible that the results will be erroneous or incomplete. Despite their high precision, locating technologies such as ground penetrating radar and line tracing have limitations, and the devices’ readings are susceptible to the interpretation of the operators.
How can I make sure my pipes are in good working order before I dig?
Before digging, phone 811 or go to the website of your state’s 811 center to request that the approximate position of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t dig into an underground utility line by accident.
Is calling 811 in Alabama free?
- After the lines have been marked, state law states that you must not excavate within 18 inches of the facility markers on either side. This is the “tolerance” or “safety” zone.
- State legislation compels you to utilize “non-invasive” methods if you must dig inside the safety or “tolerance” zone. This is often thought to be hand digging or the use of “vacuum excavating” equipment. It is vital to exercise caution and attention when excavating inside the tolerance zone.
- The utilities that are members of Alabama 811 will mark their facilities for free. The request for a location that you just made is a free service. Our member utilities will designate the lines that belong to them by dialing 811, which includes any facilities in a property’s right of way or up to the meter at the house or building. The majority of people are excavating in the utility’s right-of-way or in areas where the lines are owned by the utility. If you’re working around lines past the meter, though, they’re called service lines and belong to the property owner, not the utility. Water lines from the meter to the house, or a gas service line from the meter to a backyard barbecue, are examples of this. There are locating firms that can locate these service lines for you if you will be working in those regions and require them in addition to what has been designated by the utilities through the 811 service. It’s possible that they’ll charge you for this. Remember that the request you’ve made with Alabama 811 is free of charge.
- Until January 2022, all utility companies are not obliged to be members of Alabama 811; if your company is not on the list of members notified, you will need to contact them directly.
- If you called our office directly, the 811 representative should have given you a date for when the locate request should be noted as well as the duration of the request. To allow facility owners to mark their lines, the law demands a full two-working-day notice. For a period of 20 working days, a locate request is valid. If you work beyond the 20-day period, you must update your request to ensure that the utilities are aware that you are still operating around their lines. Keep your reference number handy as proof that you notified the utilities and followed the state’s rules.
Is it difficult to work as a utility locator?
USIC is a high-stress, high-risk, and low-paying employment. The tools and training supplied are inherently dangerous and can result in long-term incapacity. Local locating firms pay more and provide a better working environment.
How much does DigAlert set you back?
Buried utilities can be found almost everywhere on your property, which is why you should always check with DigAlert before digging. You can protect subsurface utilities and avoid service interruptions by using DigAlert Direct or phoning 811 two (2) working days before to beginning your excavation, NOT counting the date of notification (4216.2(b)). This is a completely free service, and it is also required by law.
A DigAlert in the name of the person undertaking the work is required by law. If you engage a contractor, the responsibility for notification is legally theirs, but it could also be yours if it’s indicated in the contract’s fine print. However, as a homeowner, it’s a good idea to double-check with DigAlert just in case. You, as the homeowner, could be held accountable if the contractor is negligent in this task and damages subsurface utilities. “Better safe than sorry” applies in this circumstance.
If you’re not sure whether or not you should contact DigAlert, have a look at our explanations of some of the most frequent projects that homeowners perform on a daily basis and which fall under our jurisdiction. Please keep in mind that this is simply offered as an example and should not be construed as a comprehensive list. The legislation is clear: before excavating, start a ticket and have the utility lines marked.
How do I locate my yard’s water lines?
Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is the ideal tool for the job today because it precisely maps metal and PVC pipes. Electricity and magnets are used in traditional pipe locators to locate underground pipes.
What are some telltale signals that you’re approaching an established utility?
Every drilling site has the potential to damage subterranean infrastructure. Inadvertently cutting a power wire underground. A natural gas line is being ruptured.
Damage to subsurface utilities can have costly effects, including the disruption of important services, the need for repairs, downtime, and the risk of serious injury or death.
In 2014, the Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) received 273,599 reports of occurrences involving damage to underground utility wires from Canada and the United States.
It is necessary to first identify the potential causes and industry practices in place in order to prevent similar disasters. Figure 1 depicts the most typical causes of occurrences leading in subterranean utility damage.
Specific regulations (29 CFR 1926.651) have been established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect employees and avoid accidental damage to subsurface equipment. Prior to initiating excavation works, these include determining the location of underground installations.
The most crucial precaution professionals and homeowners should take, according to the DIRT Report (CGA 2014), is to call the national 811 call line before digging or drilling. When an excavator or driller calls a one-call center before digging, more than 99 percent of the time, harm is averted!
Many approaches, including owner records, other sources of information, and utility locating procedures, can be used to locate underground utilities. Some strategies, on the other hand, can lead to increased uncertainty.
Figure 1 shows the root cause category for damages “Areas where no utility locating or marking was completed prior to excavation activities; areas where utility markings or locations were insufficient; areas where the type of utility, its depth, or a lack of records prevented locating the installation; and areas where incorrect utility records and maps led to an incorrect location.
The majority (68 percent) of incidents with utility damages and for which a locate request was submitted had visible but erroneous markings, while 29 percent had no markings at all.
The category of the root cause “Excavation Practices Not Sufficient” refers to actions such as failing to maintain clearances while using power equipment, failing to use hand tools where required, failing to maintain markings, failing to use test holes to verify exact location of buried lines, failing to support exposed utility lines, and using improper materials or compaction in backfilling (CGA 2014).
Call Before You Dig
The first step in avoiding contact with subterranean utility lines is to dial 811, which is the national toll-free “Call Before You Dig” hotline for the United States, as designated by the Federal Communications Commission.
An 811 agent will gather information about your project and contact the necessary utility providers to find and designate buried lines that they own at the call ticket’s indicated location.
Utility easements, not private property, are frequently used to indicate utility sites and marks. As a result, if any drilling or other activities are planned,
Outside of easements, intrusive activities will be carried out, and underground lines will not be marked.
There are a lot of other factors to consider when it comes to identifying and designating subterranean utility lines. Among them are the following:
- Power and telecommunication cables, as well as water and sewer lines, serve educational and government buildings.
Complexes and office parks are not covered by one-call because they are on private land.
- The information provided by one-call does not give depth, but rather a window of horizontal space where utilities are expected to be buried.
White-Lining the Dig Site
The Common Ground Alliance recommends white-lining as a best practice (CGA 2015). Physical white-lining is necessary.
Pre-mark the dig or drill location using white paint or an equivalent by the excavator or drilling firm.
While this method is known to reduce damage, it may increase job costs. Virtual WhiteLineTM is a new offering that allows you to observe the terrain and boundaries of the dig area or drill site from afar using high-resolution aerial images (PAPA 2010).
Utility Locating Techniques
Underground utilities can be located by looking at current utility owner records or employing a utility locating service, as previously described. The information source and procedures used to detect subterranean utilities may have an impact on the accuracy and reliability of identifying and locating underground lines.
There are phone lines, gas lines, water lines, and sewer lines flowing underground in addition to electricity lines. For different types of subterranean lines, different detecting techniques are required. Metal cables and pipes, for example, can be detected using electromagnetic instruments that include a transmitter and a receiver. Radiolocation devices identify non-ferrous wires by using radio waves to find a location (plastic or concrete).
Because there are so many different materials used in subterranean utilities, not all of them can be discovered using traditional methods.
methods. Acoustic locating, ground penetrating radar (GPR), and magnetic locators or metal detectors are examples of non-traditional utility locating techniques.
GPR detection is an electromagnetic technology that is frequently used to supplement other locating methods. It can create 3D images of pipes, electricity lines, sewer lines, and water mains underground.
Other than pipes, magnetic locators, metal detectors, and magnetometers are frequently used to locate buried metal objects. An acoustic locator is most commonly used to detect and track nonmetal water lines, but it can also be used to locate plastic gas lines.
Current utility locating technologies cannot guarantee that every underground utility wire and pipe will be detected. Each utility finding technique has its own set of constraints that must be considered.
Understanding Locating and Marking Practices
The suitable color for the type of facility, their corporate identification (name, initials, abbreviation) when other firms are using the same color, the quantity and breadth of their installations, and a description of the underground utility are all included in the operator markings of utilities.
The operator’s installations are identified at or near an excavation or drill site using a combination of paint and flags. Table 1 summarizes the color code identifiers.
More detailed instructions for locating and marking practices can be found in the CGA’s Best Practices 12.0 (2015).
Additional Warning Signs
When an excavator arrives at a jobsite after calling a local one-call center to identify it, the first thing they do is hunt for indicators of subterranean utilities. Marking flags, paint, pedestals, fire hydrants, and other above-ground indications should all be visible.
Even if these indicators indicate that there are no subterranean utilities inside the dig area or drill site, be on the lookout for additional warning signals when the excavation begins. Stop excavating or drilling immediately if you notice any visual indicators of a buried utility and manually dig until the utility is uncovered. If required, contact the utility owner, but do not proceed until the utility has been fully exposed and identified.
Can I go as far as I can before dialing 811?
This figure comes from the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), and if it sounds disturbingly high to you, it’s because many people are unaware that they must call 811 before digging.
While the ground may not have thawed where you are, April is National Safe Digging Month, and it’s a good reminder to know what you need to do before breaking ground on this year’s projects.
According to data collated by CGA from various industry associations, there are more than 100 billion feet of subsurface utilities in the United States, so you can’t assume your customer’s property is free of them.
There is no limit to how deep a person can go before calling 811. CGA advises that any time you put a shovel in the ground, whether it’s to plant little shrubs or build a fence, you should contact because many utilities are buried just a few inches below the surface.
Even if an area has been designated previously, erosion and root system growth might change the depth or location of buried wires, so call each time you start a job.
Calling 811 is also not an optional chore, as every state has a different statute that requires people to contact before digging. While the amount of time you have to call 811 before digging differs by state, you can find your state’s standards here.
It is a frequent misperception that dialing 811 costs money; nevertheless, dialing 811 is completely free. Utility companies cover the cost to protect you, your staff, and your customers. When you don’t call, hit a utility line, and are held liable for the damage, the true expenses effect your business.
Some utility companies charge not just for the expense of dispatching a staff to repair or replace the damaged property, but also for the loss of service caused by the outage.
In recent years, some states have enacted penalties and fines to aid in the enforcement of the law. Mississippi passed a law in 2016 requiring first-time offenders to complete a compliance training course.
Second-time offenders within a five-year period must complete a training course or face a fine of up to $500 per offense. Malicious activities with the aim to destroy subsurface lines result in a training course and fines of up to $5,000 per event for third-time crimes in a five-year period.
- Two to three days before digging, call 811 or submit an online request to your local one-call center.
- The affected utility companies will be notified by the one-call center. Wait two to three days for the utility operators to react to your request (this varies by state). For each request, an average of seven to eight operators are notified.
- Verify that all of the operators who are affected have responded to your request. The process for confirmation varies by state.
- Dig around the designated locations with care. The majority of state rules prevent machines from being used within 18 to 24 inches of a utility that has been marked. Hand dig or use vacuum excavation if you need to dig closer.
Keep in mind that depending on the state, the locate ticket is only good for a set amount of time, and if you want to continue, you’ll need to call 811 for a re-mark.
Stop working immediately if one of your employees accidentally hits a pipeline. The processes that follow differ depending on the type of utility line hit.
When dealing with natural gas, propane, or petroleum lines, leave the area and contact 911 as well as the facility operator. Don’t do anything that could start a blaze, and make sure everyone is aware of the situation. Keep the public out by cordoning off the area. Stay away from the gas and do not attempt to repair the pipe on your own.
Warning everyone in the area, including emergency responders, that the ground and objects near the point of contact may be energized in the case of electrical wires.
If you have a radio or phone, call the electricity utility operator or the fire department. Otherwise, stay on the excavator and ask someone to call for utility and emergency help.
Those near the excavator or point of contact should keep both feet together and remain still. They must not come into contact with the excavator or the material. Only leave the excavator and the surrounding area after an official from the electric utility has declared it safe. If a fire, explosion, or other hazard requires quick evacuation, jump (not step) from the apparatus and land with both feet. Make sure you’re at least 25 to 30 feet away. Take no ordinary walking steps.
Notify the facility owner of any damaged communications cables, and do not study or stare at broken, severed, or disconnected fibers. Keep a safe distance away and block the area to keep others out.
Contact the pipeline operator after examining the situation and ensuring that nothing appears to be harmed. Minor nicks or dents can lead to major issues in the future.
If a homeowner has consulted you but intends to do it themselves, remind them that calling 811 isn’t just for professionals; anyone planning to dig must dial this number.