Hiring Vacuum Excavation Experts Prevents Accidents

utility potholing

When planning your next home improvement or repair project, make sure to proceed with caution. This is especially true if your project involves digging. The first step to any project of this magnitude is having a proper utility locate service performed. While it may add a few days to your project’s timeline, having utility potholing completed in your yard can save you from dangerous outcomes.

What Went Wrong in Southern California  

Recently, Southern California was devastated by an accidental gas explosion: fifteen people were injured, and a Southern California Gas Company worker lost his life. Sadly, the ruptured gas line could have been avoided had the local contractor used a utility locating service. 

The contractor not only violated state law but put others at risk. Most likely, the contractor didn’t think locating utilities was essential for the work he was doing. It’s far too common for contractors, handymen, and homeowners to either be overconfident in their abilities or to underestimate the task at hand. However, one must always consider the dangers of their projects and determine whether or not the are truly qualified.

Accidents involving utilities do not always result in death. Some accidents result in damaged property, physical injuries, or high costs. In some cases, calling the local utility company might suffice. 

In other situations, it’s best to hire a private utility locating company. These private companies often have more autonomy on your property and can identify all of your utility lines in one visit. Also see potholing for utilities.

vacuum excavation contractors

Experts Always Do a Utility Pothole Inspection

Potholing is a process that confirms underground utilities and obstructions. As the first part of investigating what’s underground, utility potholing starts with a small, exploratory hole along the planned route of new construction or repairs. While some contractors rely on digital locating devices to find pipes, utility lines, and other obstructions, there are times when actually seeing what’s underground is essential.

Digging without first locating underground utilities runs the risk of hitting the gas, power lines, communications, water, and sewer lines. While nicking one of these utilities might seem harmless, it can result in significant issues: 

  • Service disruption
  • Costly repairs
  • Acute injuries
  • Death

Did you know? Accidentally cutting an underground fiber optics line could stop internet services from working throughout your neighborhood, and you could be held liable for the loss of that service.

utility potholing

What Methods Do Excavation Experts Use?

In the past, manually removing dirt was the only method used to locate and protect utility lines. There are still times when hand tools are preferred. Modern techniques include vacuum excavation. The best method depends on your project and what gets the job done.

Hand Tools

While labor-intensive, using a shovel, pickax, or another hand tool to pothole is perfect for small spaces where precision is necessary. Hand tools are also the cheapest pieces of equipment used to dig. On the flip side, hand tools require a great deal of time and effort, especially when dealing with harder ground surfaces. Shovels are unlikely to damage underground pipes but can slice through cable or communication wires.


When precision isn’t necessary, backhoes are incredible options. The work is much less labor-intensive and can be completed rather quickly. When a new development is excavating for new foundations, backhoes are the easiest and best option. The biggest downside of using a backhoe exists when utilities are present. 

Even the most skilled backhoe operator runs the risk of hitting and damaging subterranean lines. This is why most backhoe operators use a spotter to help keep a closer eye on where they are digging. Backhoes also don’t fit into many spaces, especially once houses or other structures are in place.

Vacuum Excavation

Simply knowing where a utility line isn’t always enough. Many projects need to work around existing utility lines. Digging up an entire utility line can take a long time, cost a lot of money, and require quite a bit of workforce. Also, you must consider how digging can destroy your yard. 

Vacuum excavation is a method used to locate underground utilities without the same mess as manually digging. The process involves using water or air to break up soil before suctioning up the broken ground into a storage tank. Vacuum excavation contractors can eliminate nearly all risk of damaging underground utilities at a lower cost and higher level of precision. In some cases, the soil can even be reused cutting down on landscaping costs.

There are two main methods of vacuum excavation:

  • Air Excavation:

Air excavation uses compressed air to loosen and break up the soil. Since the primary element of this process is air, the earth is still used to fill in holes later on.

  • Hydro Excavation:

Instead of air, hydro excavation uses high-pressure water to loosen and break apart dirt. This technique is also extremely precise, although faster than air-based methods. Since the primary element is water, the soil is no longer fit to be used again.

Both air and hydro excavation allow you to pothole quickly, easily, and safely. At the same time, however, the vacuum excavation process is not something anyone can do. Besides the hefty investment in equipment, operating a vacuum excavation system requires a great deal of skill and experience. 

Unfortunately, your utility company or other public “call before you dig” service most likely won’t use vacuum excavation methods. Hiring a private potholing company may seem like an extra expense, but it can certainly save you money in the long run.

Which Method is Best?

The nature of the job at hand will ultimately determine which method is best. The key is that underground utilities are safely located and protected to keep major accidents from becoming commonplace. 

Most homeowners won’t be able to decide on their own which method is best. Using a reputable utility locating company is the best way to ensure your project or repair is done without the risk of a significant accident.

What Should You Do Before Concrete Drilling?

CCTV pipe inspection

You should always consider the first crucial steps before drilling into concrete, no matter the type of project you are working on, such as building or repairing a new shop or a residential neighborhood.

Concrete drilling is hindered by a lot of extraneous objects, like electrical conduits, steel rebar, and PVC or metal pipes and sewer lines. It’s dangerous to drill into these embedded things if they’re not identified beforehand.

Various methods can be used to determine the exact location and what is happening inside drains in order to keep them clean and clear. It is easy to neglect or forget about wastewater pipes and drains because they are hidden. In spite of this, the infrastructures we use every day play an extremely important role.

To maintain a healthy, hygienic environment, drains must be cleaned regularly. Inspecting drains and sewers has never been easier, thanks to modern closed-circuit television video (CCTV) drain survey technology. A CCTV drainage survey is an effective way to ensure no clogs are present in drains and no internal problems exist.

What is a CCTV Drainage Survey?

CCTV pipe inspection cameras mounted on wheels can be lowered and gain access into sewer line pipes instead of digging them or having engineers manually enter them; high-definition images are then displayed on the CCTV camera systems monitor.

From their mobile units, technicians can remotely identify possible problems with pipes using the CCTV video cameras from the CCTV pipe inspection. In addition to rodent infestations and displaced joints that let pests enter drainage systems, these issues can include fissures on sewer lines, worn sections, collapsed sections, pipe blockages, and hairline cracks.

During the analysis, a full drain survey report is provided, along with video footage of the drain system and recommendations as to how the project may be pursued. Suitable for both commercial and residential properties, CCTV sewer inspection can be performed on drains of all diameters.

What is Used in a CCTV Drain Inspection?

Getting a clear picture of the internal components of your drainage system requires various tools and equipment due to its highly technical nature. Tools and equipment for the exercise are typically provided by a leak technician or plumbing professionals. These tools include:

  • Waterproof CCTV Cameras
  • Sonar Units
  • Pipe Rods
  • Crawlers

Why Perform a CCTV Drain Inspection?

There are several reasons why pipe inspection and analysis should be performed every few months. In the case of a new home purchase, a CCTV drainage survey is usually required.

Homeowners can perform a CCTV sewer inspection to assess the drain system’s condition prior to purchasing a home. If a home needs to be repaired before it can be deemed habitable, the survey can help to identify those repairs.

The pipe inspection should always be conducted by homebuyers when buying residential properties so that they have a full understanding of what they are getting into.

Hire Professionals For Your CCTV Drainage Survey

A CCTV drainage survey can be helpful and cost-effective to homeowners and tenants when they encounter issues such as leaks and blockages on a regular basis.

Using the latest CCTV survey equipment, our engineers at Util-Locate are able to inspect pipes of all sizes and shapes, identifying any problems in one pass. Get in touch with us today to arrange a CCTV drain survey!

How Does Surface & Concrete Scanning Work?

concrete scanning

Ensuring that the concrete surrounding your construction site is safe is critical before you start your next big construction project. Since you might not be able to see underground utilities or confined areas that may be present as well, you may miss them. 

If there are things embedded in the concrete, this can be a potentially hazardous, complicated, and expensive project which may even result in accidents. When you can’t see through it, how can you tell if anything is inside? The solution to this problem lies in concrete scanning.

How Does Surface and Concrete Scanning Work

Before coring or drilling concrete slabs or columns, concrete surface scanning is used to inspect them. To provide quick and accurate concrete inspections, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is used.

In both a safe and noninvasive way, GPR can detect embedded objects in the subsurface, whereas X-ray is less accurate in assessing concrete columns, slabs, and walls. It analyzes the subsurface using transmitted waves and their reflected signals. 

Scanners can detect hidden objects such as rebar, electrical conduit, post-tension cables, and voids in concrete. As well as concrete slab measurements and rebar spacing, it can be used for structural integrity reviews. Concrete imaging reading can be used if the material is located and its type is determined by an experienced technician.

When to Use Surface and Concrete Scanning

In order to scan concrete, a survey must be completed first. This is something land surveyors typically conduct when discovering new land, but it is just as useful on contemporary job sites.

A survey will reveal the location of utility lines as well as other features beneath the surface that may be hidden. Identifying all uncovered areas allows specialists in ground-penetrating radar to focus their use of concrete scanners where necessary.

How Does Concrete Scanning Help

Surface and concrete scanning contributes to the welfare of the workforce as well as the efficiency of concrete construction, reinforcing steel, installation of utilities, the control of traffic, as well as the repair of underground utilities. Concrete structures are protected from damage when you identify embedded materials with markings in order to reduce the chance of invasive work in these areas.

In the event of a structural failure due to rebar and post-tension cable damage occurs, you risk endangering the lives of employees on site. Electrocution or death can occur if electrical conduits and services are damaged within concrete.

With scanning concrete integrated into your process, you can work more quickly and efficiently while guiding the project’s development. Before any of your workers begin work on their latest job site, you’ll stay under budget and meet the timetables outlined.

Hire Professionals in Your Next Concrete Scanning Project

It is definitely necessary to plan for GPR on the site if an existing concrete structure or utility features are involved, such as concrete floors. In areas with older construction, it’s particularly common to find unmarked utilities when planning the installation, inspection, or repair of subsurface utilities. With GPR onsite, you can avoid these unpleasant surprises.

The technicians at Util-Locate are well-trained, highly skilled, and experienced in handling all home or business service requests promptly and efficiently. We can assist you with concrete scanning services by giving us a call at 1 (888) 88 56228.