Public vs Private Utility Locating: What’s The Difference?

Orange Country Sewer Pipe Locator

Are you planning to excavate or dig on your property? First and foremost, you need to locate where utility lines are. This is crucial to avoid consequential damage to mains lines or even injuring yourself in the process. You will need to hire professionals to do the locating job for you to guarantee accuracy. With many lines that could be buried just outside of your property, a proper assessment is absolutely necessary before you go on with your project. If you want to determine the exact location and path of public utility lines, the professional knowledge of a public utility locator will come in handy.

On private property, a private utility locator will be the best fit to do the job. In general, the difference between public and private utility locating services is that public locating has to do with locating utilities in the public right of way while private locating has to do with locating utilities on private property.

Upon locating, you can dig with confidence knowing that you are not at risk of running into a utility line. Know more about sewer line locators.

Why it is important to call a private utility locate

Since not all utility lines are covered by an 811 Call Before You Dig service, a private utility locator company can help you with locating, marking, and mapping the utility lines.  Especially those owned by a private owner. By using the latest state-of-the-art technology, our technicians will guarantee you a 97% accuracy rate. At Util-Locate, we use the most advanced tools to tackle any condition on-site including unfavorable soil conditions, broken or cut lines, corroded pipes, hard-to-detect material such as plastic lines, clay, insulated cast iron, and concrete pipes. Our experience and expertise in locating these types of pipes become a great asset for you and serve a great role in damage prevention.

Whether you are planning to build a fence, carry out renovation or undertake a construction project, it is extremely important that you are aware of underground gas lines, sewer lines, fiber optics, and water lines that may be passing beneath your construction site. For private utilities, it is a completely different approach compared to a public utility. This is because private systems records are not comprehensive and may be missing in some cases. Alternatively, the available records may show a different mapping from the actual installation on the ground. This poses a special challenge that can only be addressed by a professional private utility locator. By using electromagnetic equipment utilities can be accurately located regardless of the material used for the lines.

What you need to do

To be on the safe side of things, you need both private and a public utility locate services. A public utility service is free and can be accessed by calling 811. A public locator will mark any lines that pass near your property such as telephone lines, street lights, traffic lights, cable television lines and any other. However, they are not in a position to mark private lines such as septic systems or buried tanks.

Professional Excavation Advice in Exposing Buried Utilities

Utility Potholing Services

Great care should always be taken when attempting to expose buried utilities. There are a number of dangers that can be hazardous to workers underground, with electrical cabling having the potential to kill. They can often look very similar to other piping, meaning workers can unknowingly make contact with the live cabling and sustain serious damage.

Instead, when potholing utilities, you should always plan ahead to ensure your own and other people’s safety.

Safety Tips

There are a variety of things that can happen when underground cabling gets damaged. People can receive an electric shock, which is deadly in most cases when they make contact with the cable. There can also be an arc discharge, caused by the electrical breakdown of gases which results in a prolonged electrical discharge. This discharge can result in severe burns even though people may be wearing protective clothing.

In order to avoid this damage, you should first plan ahead before starting any work. You should make an effort to check for any equipment owned by third-party organizations, as this will give you clues as to who may own the cabling beneath the ground you are working on. It would then be a good idea to contact the owner to get detailed plans showing the location of the cabling beneath the ground. This will uncover vital information that can help to avoid damaging existing infrastructures, which can incur a significant cost in monetary terms, as well as time delays.

Even after obtaining detailed plans, it is also good practice to employ cable-locating devices. Plans will give you an approximate location for cabling, but locators will help to pinpoint cables. Once this is done, you can then begin digging into the ground to expose your buried utilities.

utility potholing

Excavating Safely

When excavating, you should be mindful of the cabling beneath you.

It is vital that you use insulated hand tools when digging near electrical cabling, in order to mitigate the chance of electric shock. If you are using a vacuum excavator, you won’t have to worry about this risk.

Any vacuum excavation contractors performing Hydrovac excavation should be mindful of their machinery’s location. There have been times where people have accidentally moved the boom into overhead powerlines, causing electric shocks. This highlights the importance of spatial awareness when operating this machinery. It is incredibly important that workers do not become complacent and always remain aware of the imminent danger surrounding them.

It is recommended that when operating machinery in close proximity to overhead powerlines, you keep a minimum of 3 meters away from the live cable, with an optimal distance of 7 meters to ensure safety.

One of the biggest benefits of utility potholing and vacuum excavation over hand digging is the reduced chance of damaging the line. Excavators have the ability to significantly reduce the pressure at which they dig, meaning you can uncover existing cabling without causing any damage. There is one safe method of digging where you dig down next to the location of the cabling and then horizontally move closer to expose the cable. This can be much safer than digging straight down, where you could potentially hit the cable with the dig wand. See more underground location services.


In summary, there are many ways that you can ensure safety when attempting to expose buried utilities.

It is always best to find out who owns the cabling in the area you plan to dig. They will have existing documentation detailing the approximate locations of cables in the area. You can then pinpoint the locations with locator devices and dig safely. Everyone should remain mindful of the dangers electricity poses to human life, checking that machinery is sufficiently far away from live power lines too.

If you want to find out more about exposing buried utilities and excavation, you can visit

Why Use GPR for Utility Locating

util locate man at work

In the business of underground utility locating services, it is critical that you know what exactly lies beneath the surface at a site such as pipes and conduits. The replacement and rerouting of underground infrastructure can be time-consuming, often very costly and is a disturbance to the environment. It is thus important to utilize tools that would provide accurate assessments and efficiently save on time, resources, and space.

The tools used for locating utilities are quite diverse, but most are met with multiple limitations. One method commonly used is the energizing of cables and metals with electric current and then with the help of a magnetic-field sensor, detecting the current. However, there are instances where the metallic object is broken, or there is a presence of non-metallic elements, which makes detection of current impossible or difficult. Read more about a private locate company near me.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is an underground utility locator that uses radio waves to locate sub-surface structures and objects without causing any damage. The radio waves/signals/frequencies will bounce off the object it comes to contact with and is received back at the antenna. From the antenna, they are transmitted by wire to a computer for processing, analysis, and display on the computer screen.

GPR is used in materials like concrete, asphalt, soil and rock, water, plastic, metal, and wood. It can also detect non-objects such as voids (hollow cavities). As such, under favorable conditions, GPR can virtually see anything.

If you are seeking for underground utility locating services, there are multiple reasons why GPR is a good fit. The end goal is to save as much time, resources, and space while getting accurate assessments.

Benefits of GPR

Provides accurate location and detection.

GPR is one underground utility locator that can trace both metallic and non-metallic utilities. These elements may include water, gas pipes, polythene, and even fiber-optic cables, which other methods find difficult or impossible to detect. It can also provide detection of pipe leakages and voids although, this will require further processing of the data.

The underground utility locator will also give you the exact locations of these objects inclusive of their depths. More so, it will perform this function without having prior knowledge of the utility’s respective location. It becomes a significant advantage when dealing with an area with complete unknowns.

Provides non-destructive examination.

The GPR underground utility locator uses either magnetic or electromagnetic principles to identify and map out the location of underground utilities. Its approach enables it to reinforce steel within concrete and voids without damaging surrounding surfaces and structures. It also enables non-intrusive inspection of a site, therefore preserving the structure and preventing project downtime.

It is cost-effective.

Utilizing GPR underground utility locating services before performing directional drilling will save you from causing damage to existing utilities, which promotes cost-effective installations. It will minimize or eliminate; setbacks from structure damages, expensive job downtime, worker injury, or shutdown of a facility for a severed utility line.

It is user-friendly.

Originally, GPR was considered a major capital investment, dedicated only to experts and skilled operators. The underground utility locator required expertise to operate owing to its complexity and its need for hands-on data processing. However, with technological advancements and innovation, the new GPR equipment is of uncomplicated electronic designs with user-friendly interfaces that do not require complex filter settings.

Other benefits of using GPR for underground utility locating services include:

  • Early tracing of warning signs and,
  • Fast, reliable diagnosis of problems.

Util-Locate has been a trusted provider of Ground Penetrating Radar services in California. We are qualified to do even the most challenging job. Let us know how we can help.

What is the Best Method for Pipe Location?

utility locating service

Doing any type of digging in your yard without knowing the location of utility lines will increase your risk of damage. This can result in flooding your yard or even your entire home, which can be extremely costly to fix. Therefore, hiring a utility locating service can ensure the safety of everyone and your property.

A utility locator with a metal detector won’t work for most water pipes because they are made of PVC or similar materials. PVC pipes aren’t easy to find. In addition, not every underground utility locator is able to perform this task because of the use of a special process.

Finding and mapping underground pipes is challenging without the right information and tools. A property diagram with an incorrect property location, an outdated utility map, and an unreliable tool can all be in conflict with each other.

When you must locate pipes and cables without disrupting the soil of the site, it’s especially frustrating. Our infrastructure is so complex that it’s a wonder anything gets found so deep underground.

How Do Underground Utility Locators Work?

Various utility locators use similar techniques, but they do differ in some ways. They provide a strong signal that can be detected by handheld locators from the surface through induction by injecting an electrical signal, either directly or indirectly.

A basic distinction must be made before we can compare location techniques and signal types. A locator typically connects to a network using a receiver and a transmitter. This handheld receiver is easy to sweep above the ground.

An electrical supply or pipe is connected to the transmitter, or the transmitter is fed through the pipe. This way, the cable or pipe is located with the devices by sending a low-frequency radio current that establishes a connection.

Different Methods for Pipe Location

Utility line locators can both detect metal and plastic pipes underground, so you will need one to find underground water pipes. This material could be made from either metal or plastic, depending on where you’re currently working.

It is, therefore, important to use equipment that can locate both if you want to get the best results.

Acoustic Method

Workers tried to trace PVC water lines by banging on aboveground structures with their ears to the ground without using advanced technology. PVC pipe vibrations were detected more easily with ground rods and probes, and rods could be manually inserted into the ground to locate and trace the pipe.

Using a sensitive ground probe, the length of the PVC pipe will be listened to and followed. Since this method uses acoustics, ambient noise in the area may limit the ability of the operator to hear the signal. Huge machinery, busy roads, and busy streets can all interfere.

Ground Penetrating Radar

Due to its ability to locate both metallic and non-metallic objects, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) can be useful for finding underground water pipes. It requires some more time due to installing a leak detection device at the access point, removing the hydrant’s cap, and pressurizing it correctly.

Unlike traditional radars, ground-penetrating radars transmit electromagnetic radiation using antennas attached to rolling carts. You can apply the same principle if you are familiar with how sonar frequencies work. An antenna receives a wave that bounces back after hitting an object. Visual feedback is provided to the operator by the system based on this reflection.

Why Should I Use GPR for Locating Pipes?

There is an increase in the density and complexity of underground infrastructures nowadays. No matter how well plans are laid, diagrams, maps, and schematics don’t always reflect the truth. The non-destructive yet highly effective technique of GPR is extremely useful in these challenging situations.

A company that utilizes a pipe locator and cable locator to locate underground lines has a razor-sharp advantage over a company that doesn’t. The most important benefit of GPR is its ability to provide accurate information concerning what lies underneath the ground.

The data is available in real-time and shared with other project participants. No matter what kind of construction project you’re planning or digging a hole in, reliable data facilitates decision-making. A GPR system can deliver accurate 3D data of the subsurface without ever having to sink a shovel, delivering unprecedented clarity.

Consider Hiring Professionals to Locate Your Pipes

In every job, our team ensures safety, accuracy, confidence, and efficiency. Planning well, adhering to safety practices diligently, and maintaining quality compliance are important factors contributing to the success of any project. If underground obstacles threaten you and the people in your community, we can help you find them in time.

All home or business service requests are handled promptly and efficiently by our highly skilled and experienced technicians. If you have any questions or if you are in need of CCTV pipe inspection or utility locating service, don’t hesitate to call us at 888-88 56228 at Util-Locate today!

​4 Benefits of a Private Utility Locator

​4 Benefits of a Private Utility Locator

Property owners must follow their state’s regulations when it comes to maintaining underground utility lines. To prevent interference with those belonging to others, they may require the aid of private utility locating services.

Mapping technology and the expertise of skilled technicians can be utilized to achieve this.

This method helps developers and owners easily manage utility records, as well as prevent potential damage to both public and private utility lines from new foundations, posts or structures.

The focus of this post will be exploring the advantages of utilizing private utility locating companies, including:

1. Trained and Certified Utility Location Technicians

The specialized tools used in locating the position and depth of underground utility lines need to be operated by skilled and trained technicians.

The same goes for the data they generate—which need to be collected, assessed, and analyzed by licensed eyes.

Certified utility line personnel can also discern significant data from what could be a piece of plastic or metal buried underneath.

2. Sophisticated Potholing Utilities

Private utility locators use high-technology scanning tools to identify the exact location of utility lines in an area.

Gone are the days when utility locating services used manual utility maps and did a lot of guesswork. In modern times, they use equipment such as:

  • Electromagnetic equipment
  • Electronic or radio frequency (RF) pipe and cable locating tools
  • CCTV-guided mapping tools
  • Ground-penetrating radar (GPR)

GPR tools are the most common and advanced. They can detect electric, water, gas, oil, communications, and drainage lines without the need to break ground.

3. Reduced Utility Line Locating Time and Cost

Often, private owners deploy excavating professionals to locate utility lines. While they are experts in digging the ground, they often are not equipped to map out unseen lines.

This may result in having to dig before knowing the actual positions and may cause damages along the way.

4. Protection for Underground Utility Lines

Property developers and owners need to maintain their respective utility lines as part of the law. And the only way to properly do so is to know where they are located under the ground.

Private potholing utilities can obtain an overall view of the placements and connections of buried lines—regardless of whether they are part of the current construction or renovation project or not. 

This information can serve as an FYI for any future real estate change that will be made.

Risk of Not Calling for Private Utility Location Service

Private utility locating is crucial to:

  • Reduce the risk of existing utility line damage
  • Prevent injury to personnel who will be exposed to water, electrical, and gas pipes
  • Avoid expensive repairs that happen when blind digging

Call Util-Locate!

Private utility line locating ensures the safety of workers and prevents costly damages to underground lines. This is a project that should not be DIY-ed.

Instead, you should let the experts get the job done. Util-Locate serves clients in Southern California. We use the combination of licensed expertise and high-tech ground mapping tools to generate accurate data.

Our potholing portfolio includes universities, schools, military bases, theme parks, correctional facilities, stadiums, shopping centers, hospitals, hotels, telecoms, and water companies.

Let’s discuss what our services can do for you, contact us at (866) 638-1075 at Util-Locate today! 

Why Potholing is Highly Recommended for Construction Projects

Potholing Job Completion

Construction contractors can use potholing to safely control potential problems while searching for underground utility main lines, such as for natural gas or cable television, without causing a severe inconvenience in the local area. The loose soil from the test hole can be quickly and easily removed with vacuum excavation to then provide an open space for construction workers to use to inspect for underground utility main lines. With practical techniques for reducing the number of potential problems, a construction contractor can control the costs and can focus on the construction schedule.

Utility potholing locates utility lines by using forceful water pressure to push through the earth, creating a small home in the process. When the hole is deep enough, your construction crew will be able to visually confirm the location of any underground utility lines. This will allow your other construction work to resume without risk of interfering with any existing lines.

Potential Problems for Construction Contractors

The location of some underground utility main lines may not be documented because those lines for fiber optics or wastewater may not have been used by the current owner of a building that had been demolished for a new project such as for new art and entertainment center. The contractor can use potholing in construction projects to prevent problems and to protect the workers who could be injured by an underground hazard.

utility potholing

Evaluation of Potential Costs

The process for being offered a construction project usually includes bids from several contractors who must submit a construction plan and a budget for the project. Some of those contractors could encounter budget problems, such as for additional labor, equipment and supplies expenses while being forced to replace an underground utility line that had been accidentally damaged while trying to build an underground garage for a new apartment building. Managers can use potholing in construction projects to protect investments and to become more prepared for accurately planning a new project.

With the risk of utility line damage and service interruptions, comes expensive and time-consuming delays that might have to be approved by a local planning permission authority. Time is an expensive commodity on any construction site, which makes these delays and extra expenses something you don’t want to risk. Bypass these dangers by hiring an experienced potholing team. Not only will this keep your construction project running on time, but you will also be keeping the crew and nearby residents protected from utility outages.

Easy Access to Construction Sites in Isolated Locations

Some heavy construction equipment could be unsafe in an isolated area where a hidden water well or a concealed sinkhole had not been filled with soil to control the problem. With vacuum excavation, a contractor can use equipment that will cause fewer safety problems and that can be used to easily remove soil without blocking a path with a pile of soil while digging to search for underground utility lines.

Protection for Workers and the Environment

The aesthetic advantage of underground utility lines is a problem for contractors who want to quickly locate those underground utility lines. The techniques for utility potholing can be used to minimize the degree of damage to the topsoil at a construction site. With more detailed information about underground utility lines, a contractor can move forward with a project while also protecting the environment and not endangering a worker.

Plans for Controlling a Potential Problem

Vacuum excavation will prevent damage to utility lines, flooding, and service outages. Additionally, construction crews cannot dig in ‘safe zones’, which is the land that runs parallel alongside the utility lines.

In conjunction with utility potholing, you can first find the approximate location of unground utility lines and other facilities by using digital equipment and ground-penetrating RADAR. However, nothing can replace the certainty that comes with vacuum excavation and visual confirmation of the utility lines.

The various factors for improving the quality of a construction project can be controlled with different methods such as with more safety equipment and with innovative techniques. A contractor can use utility potholing to reduce the worker turnover rate with safer working conditions and to ensure that the project will be a success. Project managers can conveniently contact Util-Locate for professional advice about the potholing services for a construction site.