9 Misconceptions About Underground Utility Locating

Trusted Utility Locating Services

Underground utilities, also known as subsurface utilities, are infrastructures found underground to provide services to people. They are most commonly built by public utility companies but are also installed as private utilities by property owners. Such public utilities come in the form of pipes and cables that transport lots of things, from water to your internet connection.

Depending on the location, utility locating could also be done on a private utility. Things such as self-installed home filtration systems, sewer lines, garden sprinkler systems, are all examples of such infrastructure.

What Are Utility Location Services For?

Because these infrastructures are below the ground, anyone who plans to excavate either for public or private purposes will need to plot where these utilities are before they do any digging. Utility location refers to the entire process of plotting such infrastructure, from identifying where utility lines are to labeling each line properly.

Explaining What 10 Myths on Underground Locating Really Mean

1. All utility mark outs are accurate.

Utility mark outs are often inaccurate. Whenever you’re doing some excavation work, always proceed with caution.

You never know whether mark outs are inaccurate or incomplete. Don’t trust mark outs, since they may be based solely on records. Even ones done using the most advanced locating technologies are not very reliable because all locating technologies have limitations and instrument readings can change depending on the operators’ interpretations.

The best way to approach mark outs is to stir as far away from them as possible. Ideally, set your drilling location five to 10 feet away from marked lines. After all, a marked line could be one pipe or cable or it can be a group of pipes and cables together.

2. I can dig in a spot without the need to hire utility locators.

A lack of utility marks could mean the area has never been located before, not that there are no utilities present. Never dig on lots without going through proper procedures. Rarely are there no utilities where there are no marks; more often than not, you’d find unlocated utilities in such areas. You should ask around about utilities and facilities in the area.

You can also inspect the area yourself for signs of underground activities such as repaired pavement, disturbed soil, utility boxes, or wires, cables, and pipes coming from the ground. Better yet, hire Trusted Utility Locating Services to do the work for you. 

3. Depths of utilities can be assumed or estimated.

You cannot assume or estimate the location or depth of utilities without exposing them first. Lines can shift or settle, changing their depths over time; and any mark usually only indicates horizontal locations. So never make assumptions.

4. Utility strikes will not happen to me.

The biggest myth is the idea that you’re exempt from utility strikes. Just because something has never happened to you before does not mean it cannot happen. In fact, in 2019 there was an estimated 532,000 excavation-related damages to underground facilities across the country.

5. I only have to do utility mapping once.

Underground utility locating should be conducted every time before you dig up a piece of land. The depth of pipelines, cables, and so on changes over time and new utilities are always being added to the mix. So never skip utility locating prior to any project.

6. I can use an old map.

Mapping underground utilities is a long and continuous process, so you can’t always rely on old maps to guide you. If it’s been more than 5 years, the map is no longer up to date. Always get a location survey before you start any and all utility services projects. 

7. A ground-penetrating radar (GPR) can see all underground utilities.

A GPR can detect some utilities via geophysical radar pulses, but they only work as extensions of human senses.

Simply put, any GPR is limited by penetration depth and data interpretation when detecting such infrastructure. So though they are helpful, do not rely on them too heavily and always remain on the safe side when excavating.

8. I don’t need to worry about abandoned lines. 

Never make assumptions in these situations. Seemingly abandoned lines are possible conduits for new utilities, and they can be plugged at one end but be connected on the other. Abandoned lines can still pose a danger to you and everyone else so exercise utmost caution. 

9. 811 is liable for accidents.

Just because you called 811 does not mean you have done all you should when it comes to underground utility locating. The team on the other line can help coordinate with locating service providers to have a utility map of the area, but that’s as much as they can do.

It is important to remember that you are still responsible as an excavator to verify the marks provided to you. After all, when there’s a utility strike, it will be your cost to bear. There’s no harm in double-checking just to be extra sure.

Best Practices to Avoid Accidents

It pays to be extra cautious when it comes to excavations. Do everything you can to minimize the risks that come with digging.

Call 811

811 is the federally assigned hotline to call before you do any digging.

Call the hotline at least a few days before you do any digging to help make sure you’re educating yourself on the underground utilities present in your excavation area before you begin any project. This can go a long way in preventing any breaches or accidents when it comes to disturbing an existing underground utility line.

Hire Professional Utility Locating Services

When in doubt, it always pays to hire a professional. They have the necessary equipment and the best technology to carry out the safest excavations with the least surface disruption via hydro excavation.

Contact a reliable utility locating service to make sure you know where underground utilities are and how deep they are in the ground.

We at Util-Locate pride ourselves on being South California’s leading private utility locating company. Our team is one call away, so contact us today to make sure your utility location project goes smoothly!

Utility Potholing for Small Projects: Better Safe Than Sorry

why utility potholing is essential

Thanks to modern excavating tools and methods, i.e., air and hydro vacuuming excavation, utility potholing became the new and safer strategy prior to the start of home and other construction projects.

Digging used to be the standard when checking underground utility lines and performing directional drilling work, but it had many disadvantages. It is prone to damages—of the actual lines, other pipes, bedding, and anything else that a shovel or backhoe will hit.

Keep reading below to find out more about what utility potholing is and why it’s a safer option for small projects.

The Importance of Utility Potholing in Home and Building Projects

What Does Potholing Mean?

Potholing uses vacuum excavators, which are portable pressurized units that use water or air to help locate subsurface lines and obstructions in and around a bore path. It was originally used to clean septic tanks and car wash pits and remove slurry from drilling projects.

Throughout the years, contraction services have used it as a non-destructive and visual confirmation technique in checking and exposing underground utility lines prior to proceeding with building projects.

What Is Utility Potholing?

Utility potholing is a method used to gather ocular information on an infrastructure project’s underground using vacuum excavators with pressurized air or water. It involves digging a 6-12 inches deep hole to determine:

  • The presence and position of buried utility lines (underground utility locating)
  • The type/s of underground utilities
  • Correct drilling and sewer depth
  • Signs of damage to existing utilities (electrical or water)

What Are the Benefits of Utility Potholing?

Excavation potholing, as the practice is sometimes  called, is a time-saving and economical practice that aids in locating significant underground beds or sewer in directional drilling, horizontal directional drilling, and utility engineering. It also prevents blind digging and, later on:

  • Damage to underground utility lines
  • Life-threatening accidents
  • Electrical service interruptions and outages
  • Building project delays
  • Equipment damages
  • Spending on unnecessary repair services
  • Contractor fines and liability issues

Utility potholing ensures overall construction site safety. Rather than relying solely on utility locating maps and charts, which can be outdated, contractors are able to get to see first hand the situation underneath with the use of this self contained practice.

How Does Utility Potholing Work?

Both air and water can be used in utility potholing. They are pressurized to move ground contents quickly for a better view of buried utilities.

So, do you use air or water?

The answer depends on the nature of the construction project you’re dealing with. But, hydro vacuum excavation is more frequently recommended because air excavation doesn’t get rid of spoil, which ends up demanding more time and money to clean up at the end of the day.

How Does Hydro Excavation Work?

To give you an overview of the utility locating process, here is a general step-by-step process of hydrovac excavation:

  1. A piece of hydro excavation equipment or truck is used to put high pressure on its water content to break through the soil, cement, clay, grass, or compound surface and expose existing utilities underneath. Note: Safety practices encourage a test hydro excavation run first using a low pressure on a shallow depth. This is an add-on safety measure to prevent damage to underground utilities.
  2. Then, the slurry or hydrovac waste containing the broken-down soil is lifted up using a vacuum and transferred to and stored in a holding tank. Now, there are two types of vacuum that can be used for hydro excavation. One is a fan blower and the other is a positive displacement blower. The former is more commonly used in construction and line installation services because it is cheaper and can vacuum up soil in large amounts.
  3. The entire process is a utility locator that, once done, gives a good view of the buried pipes and tubes. What follows depends on the nature of the project, e.g., new line installation, pipe repair, pole setting, etc. Whether the removed slurry is returned and spread back on the dig site, incorporated as fill material, or disposed of at a liquid waste facility depends on local government guidelines and the contractor you’re working with.

What Are the Benefits of Hydro Excavation?

The hydro vacuum excavation process ultimately minimizes damages and potential disruptions to existing infrastructure and utilities.

Its other benefits include:

  • Providing a safer and less manual method for utility workers during excavations and construction
  • Minimizing the need for additional equipment, e.g., more shovels, backhoes, or water to remove soil or cement
  • Preventing damage to existing establishments and electrical lines through a controlled way of excavating
  • Limiting congestion in the construction work area as the truck can be situated at a distance and perform its function via a hose line

Are There Other Applications of Hydro Vacuum Excavation in Construction?

Apart from potholing, the hydrovac process can also be used when:

  • Removing debris from drainages and manholes
  • Excavating narrow streets, narrow trenches, planting strips, and limited-space yards
  • The weather is freezing
  • Pole drilling and setting
  • Locating community or household sewer
  • Installing a new line (electricity, water, telecommunication, etc) to a residential or business area

Contact Us for Utility Locating Services in Southern California

Utility potholing comes with advantages that go beyond giving a look into a project’s underground utilities situation. It’s a method that helps ensure workplace safety, a smooth flow of repair services, prevents ground damage, and allows for proper installation of line poles.

Opting to do it prior to the start of a construction or line project, big or small, won’t ever go wrong and will leave you with no regrets later on.

If you have a building or line project on hand and are looking for reliable services, Util-Locate specializes in mapping, CCTV, ground-penetrating radar, and underground utility locating services. Our company has been around since 2001 providing cost-effective solutions on residential and commercial utilities to both professional clients and homeowners.

Contact us today at 1(888)885-6228 or leave us a message to place your inquiries about our services or schedule line installation work with our crew at Util-Locate.

Why You Should Still Call a Utility Locator When Revisiting a Project

Utility Locating

Underground utility locating is an extremely important and necessary step for any construction project. Excavations that do not safely locate utilities run the risk of a utility strike, which can result in serious damage and disruption to the local area. Indeed, professional utility locating services can mean the difference between a safe construction site, or a dangerous one. 

When revisiting a project, it may seem unnecessary to hire a utility locating team — but having sub-surface level utilities expertly located near any new excavation is crucial. To learn more about why you should still call a utility locator when revisiting a project and the benefits that come with hydro vacuum excavation, keep reading.

Safety is Assured

The first priority on any construction site is the safety of the crew and the public. This is why all necessary precautions should be taken to create a safe working environment with a crew that is regularly educated about on-site safety measures.

Excavating a construction site can be a dangerous process if it is not carried out with care and modern techniques, such as hydro vacuum excavation. With our underground utility locating services, your construction site will remain a safe and secure place with a minimized risk of accident or injury.

When you’re revisiting a construction project, it’s important to be certain of the locations of the utility lines and other sub-surface level structures that may be under your site. While you may have verified the locations previously, markers left behind could have been affected over time and may no longer have the same accuracy. 

Instead of risking an expensive and dangerous utility strike, you should have a professional team of vacuum excavators return to the site to carry out further excavation. This will provide you with visual verification of the utility line locations and give peace of mind before moving forward to work on the site.

Hiring a professional utility locator also prevents dangerous gas lines from being struck, which have been known to cause explosions and fires. These are incredibly dangerous for anyone in the nearby vicinity, including members of the public, and can cause serious delays to your project. 

On the other hand, while electricity lines are less dangerous when struck, they can still cause major implications for the surrounding community. For instance, if the power at a local hospital is cut, it can cause debilitating problems for doctors and patients. This can, in turn, result in large fines and even community ire while the line is repaired.

Lower Overall Costs

Another reason to locate utilities at a site you are revisiting is to reduce costs. While this may seem counterintuitive given professional fees or already having located utility lines in the past, choosing to call utility locator to the site is bound to save you on money and time, and can serve as a good way to give you peace of mind. 

As mentioned above, a utility strike is a very costly accident that can simply be avoided. While in recent years repairing damaged utility lines have become less expensive, fines imposed by local government councils have risen steeply. Not to mention, if a utility strike affects the local community, you may also have to deal with time-consuming civil lawsuit actions. 

To avoid these unnecessary costs, use utility locating services that will safely and efficiently identify the exact locations of all utility lines or underground structures, such as pipes or other objects that are often not found on utility maps.

It is also much easier to budget for excavation services than for unforeseen and high fines or repair costs. By preparing your budget ahead of time to include hydro vacuum excavation, your project will be able to proceed smoothly and on time without any delay.

Benefits of Choosing Hydro Vacuum Excavation

When it comes to choosing the right utility locating services, it’s important to choose a method that is safe, cost-efficient, and friendly for the environment. Hydro vacuum excavation utilizes low flow and high water pressure to accomplish the dislodging, and is an ideal method for areas with slippery or slick surfaces, or places suffering from soil erosion or instability. 

Aside from this, however, the hydro vacuum excavation method also presents a number of other benefits, such as: 

  1. Minimal Surface Disruption: For any project, excavation can be a time-consuming and disruptive activity to other work taking place on the construction site. Hydro vacuum excavation is the least invasive method and will only minimally affect your construction site. This is especially helpful for anyone who is on a tight deadline or wants to carry out other work on the site while the excavation work is being carried out.
  2. Modern Technology: Alongside our vacuum excavation equipment, our team can utilize RADAR technology, which will make for a more efficient excavation process. Using both utility line maps and Ground Penetrating RADAR, our team can get a better idea of the location of utility lines, how many holes need to be dug, and how deep those holes will be. This information will also provide your project with an accurate price estimation before the actual excavation project begins.
  3. Visual Verification: Perhaps the best advantage of choosing hydro vacuum excavation is how incredibly accurate it is. By visually identifying the locations of all utility lines and other sub-surface level structures, you can rest assured that utility lines will not be struck, and your site will remain a safe environment.

Overall, it is important to use a utility locating service even when you are revisiting a construction project to ensure that locations of lines, pipes, and other underground structures are accurately identified and recorded. The right method is also just as crucial, and the hydro vacuum excavation will help you save time and money while maintaining the highest of safety standards. 

Get Utility Locating Services with Util-Locate

Util-Locate is the #1 utility locating service and underground locator of choice for industry professionals in Southern California. With our professional underground utilities locator, you can be sure that we’ll use state-of-the-art technology that’s the best in the industry. 

If you decide you want to acquire underground utility locating services for your recent project, call Util-Locate at (885) 885-6228 today.

When Should You Call a Private Utility Locator

Util Locate Van at Job Site

When Should You Call a Private Utility Locator

If you are a contractor or a homeowner who needs to dig into the ground, you would need to locate underground utilities before you can start excavation. The primary inclination is to have a public utility locator to do the job. But most of the time, you will need additional help from a private utility locator.

Public utility providers — also called 811 services, offer free service to help identify and point the locations of public underground utilities on the site you have in mind.

While public utility locators are considered to be very valuable in locating public utilities so you wouldn’t hit them during your digging, the service does not cover locating private utilities. In this sense, they would not be able to give you the full picture of your location.

This is when you need to let a private utility locator take over in order to get an accurate and complete picture of utilities under the ground of the site you have in mind.

Public vs. Private Utilities

Public utilities are installed to provide service to an area. The public utility companies own and maintain these lines, even if they are located on private property. These utilities include power, electricity, and gas. However, 811 does not typically locate water and sewage.

Private utilities go beyond public utilities and service meters. These are often located on private properties. Private utilities are usually unmarked and located in both residential and commercial sites — these include gas line locator and electric feeders that run through parking lots, hospitals, fire stations, industrial areas, apartment complexes, and even private backyards.

These also apply to lines running to and from substations, refineries, and heavy industrial facilities. They are placed outside the jurisdiction of public utility locating companies since these are owned and maintained by property owners.

Some examples of private utilities that are buried are:

  • Gas lines
  • Water lines
  • Sewer line
  • Exterior drain lines
  • Fiber optics
  • Telephone
  • Internet cable
  • Exterior electrical lines

Why is a Public Utility Locator Not Enough?

About 65% of the utilities are privately owned and won’t be documented by public services. Although private utility locating can’t replace the services offered by 811, they should be contacted to follow after 811 puts a mark on public utilities within the specific area. Simply put, a private utility locating service can give a more reliable picture of your project location.

Also, maps and drawings for private utilities may be outdated or missing, or the owner may not even have an idea that the utility exists. This is where private utilities go beyond the scope of the public ones — this means that an additional service must be called on to make sure that it is safe to dig in an area.

What Happens When a Private Utility Line is Hit?

It’s dangerous to perform excavation work without locating private utilities first. When buried utilities are hit, workers can be injured or killed. This makes the location of buried utilities a safety priority. Also, the utility and the equipment used for digging can get damaged.

Repairing buried utilities can be time-consuming and very costly. When doing repairs, there is a need to dig up the entire length of the cable, conduit, or pipe. This comes with heavy fines that go along with the downtime.

Additionally, the damage can halt neighboring systems and result in issues such as area flooding and internet outages. It’s the contractor’s job to fix the damage of the buried utility and it has to be done quickly.

According to Robson Forensic, “The consequences of damaging underground utilities during excavation work range from inconvenience (service outages and costly repair work) to catastrophe (large-scale property damage and loss of life). Hitting a telephone conduit can disrupt service to a neighborhood while damaging a major fiber optic duct bank can affect an entire region of the country.”

So imagine the damage when an oil pipeline gets damaged. Robson Forensic added, “[It] can result in a spill that contaminates a large environmental area including sources of drinking water, and damaging a pressurized gas main can fuel an explosion and fire large enough to destroy an entire neighborhood.

Read more: Utility Potholing & Vacuum Excavation for Your Underground Work

How Does Private Utility Locating Work?

A private underground utility locator uses more than just hand detectors — utilizing electromagnetic and cable locator equipment that enables technicians to make adjustments to different kinds of line and cable conditions.

The equipment can also adjust according to soil conditions. It can provide depth readings up to more than 13 feet with up to 97% accuracy. Nothing less than state-of-the-art equipment is used in order to provide the best underground utility location.

The contractor or homeowner should contact a private utility locating service before the project is designed or the digging begins. It’s important to know the exact locations and depths of the utility lines while still in the early planning stages.

Can a Private Utility Locator Find “Everything” at All Times?

Just like every other service, nobody can guarantee anything 100%. In this case, the locator does not promise to find every single unknown line buried in the area of question. The site may have undergone several construction projects.

There may be old and abandoned cables, lines, underground pipes that nobody knows exist. These may be only discovered during excavation. There are many variables involved in locating, applicable to all kinds of sites.  

Read more: Professional Excavation Advice in Exposing Buried Utilities

How Do I Ask a Private Utility Locator For a Quote?

After getting your contact details, the private utility locator will need the following information in order to give you a good pricing estimate:

  • Location address
  • Type of service needed
  • Number of proposed area/s
  • The estimated size of the area (in square feet)
  • Your intended type of work for the site
  • Type of facility: residential, commercial, industrial, etc.
  • As builts, plot & site plans
  • Aerial pics, Google maps, old maps
  • Photos and details of any unusual features
  • Drawing marking the area/s of the intended location

Choose the Right Private Utility Locator Service

Do you need a prospective location checked out by a private utility locator? Util-Locate is the #1 utility locating service and underground utility locator of choice for all industry professionals and residents in Southern California.

We have been providing solutions to all professionals on some of the most challenging jobs throughout the area. Call us now for a quote and consultation.

Major Headache: Expenses Involved in a Utility Strike

Util Locate Van and Truck

 

There are a lot of costs tied up in any construction project, no matter the size. If you are managing or running a construction site, you already know how multi-layered the budget sheet can get, and often there is not much room for unplanned expenses. One of the most expensive accidents that can occur on a construction site is a utility strike, which tends to happen when a construction site is not properly excavated.

With our utility potholing, the risk of striking a utility line is effectively removed from the equation. The upfront cost of hiring our professional team and equipment is far,  far lower than the costs you will end up paying if a utility strike occurs. Not only does private utility locating offer visual confirmation of the locations of utility lines, but the process is efficient and convenient for all construction sites. Later in this article, we will explain the other benefits that come with choosing our underground utility locating services.

Keep reading to learn more about how utility strikes happen and the many expenses that are involved.

When Utility Line Strikes Happen

Utility strikes occur during the excavation process and typically happen when clunky or imprecise equipment and methods are used. Previously, backhoes were the most common way to quickly excavate a construction site. While backhoes are inexpensive to hire and easy to train crews to use, they are unwieldy and cannot be relied on for delicate work like utility locating. 

Backhoes are also very invasive and will result in a lot of disruption of the surface of your construction site. This can be expensive to set right again and also result in unexpected delays.

When the utility line is punctured or otherwise damaged, it results in a very serious disruption of that utility’s service to the surrounding area. Depending on the type of strike and the utility involved, fatalities can even occur. 

Common Expenses Involved with Utility Strikes

While no one can predict the exact amount you may end up paying for a utility strike, there are several common costs associated that you should be aware of. All of these are serious expenses that can end up derailing even the most well-organized project.

  • Repairs: previously, repair costs were the most worrisome expense construction managers and investors faced. However, now repairs can be done for a relatively affordable amount which will not typically disrupt or unsettle a construction project. Of course, the costs here are dependent on the amount of damage caused and an explosion from a struck gas line will result in serious costs. Still, for modern construction projects, the following expenses will be much steeper and of more concern.
  • Service Interruption Costs: when a utility line is struck, gas and electricity can be cut off for the surrounding area, including vital service centers such as hospitals. Customers of these utility companies can sue the construction project for loss of service or for preventing the utility company from fulfilling its contract to provide a certain level of service. When thousands of people are suing, costs add up quickly. The largest recent settlement involved a $100 million payout for loss of service caused by a utility strike. This is a clear example of just how expensive a utility strike can be. No construction project or investor is prepared to settle this kind of expense without causing massive delays and even restructuring.  
  • Delays: we are all aware of how important deadlines are for any construction site. They are what drive progress forward and ensure that costs are kept in line with expectations. With repairs and potential lawsuits from a utility strike, you could also face long delays and dried up funds. This may result in the entire project being held in limbo, which is not only expensive but also wastes time for everyone involved.

No one can predict how serious a utility strike will be, it could be a bit of damaged piping or copper, or it could be an explosion. In all cases, it is best to avoid the strike in the first place by choosing a safe and reliable method of utility potholing.

utility potholing

How to Avoid a Utility Strike

There are a number of ways you can avoid utility strikes altogether. The most important place to begin is by choosing private utility locating involving mapping services, RADAR technology, and utility potholing.

  • Utility Maps: we offer a wide collection of utility maps that show the general locations of many types of subsurface level structures, such as utility lines and cables. These are important for estimating the number of holes that should be dug and how deep they should be when obtaining visual confirmation of utility locations. 
  • RADAR and GPR Technology: another useful tool that should be used in combination with vacuum excavation are RADAR or GRP (Ground Penetrating Radar) technologies. Like maps, these will give our team a 3D image of the subsurface level of your construction site so that we can proceed efficiently and safely with the excavation process. 
  • Hydro Vacuum Excavation: the most reliable method of utility potholing is done through hydro vacuum excavation. Not only is it very safe, but it is also time and cost-efficient. Our team is highly trained and has years of experience locating utilities for construction projects of all scopes and sizes. Our method is also non-invasive, which means you can continue working on the site quickly after the utility location has been completed. 

Our utility locating services are designed to keep your costs down and your construction site safe for your crew and members of the public. To find out more, click here to learn about our vacuum excavation services.

Why Utility Potholing is the ONLY Non-Invasive Excavation Method

Why Utility Potholing is no-invasive-excavation-method

 

When you are at the helm of a construction project, there is a lot of pressure to keep to time constraints and strict budgets. One part of many construction projects that results in unforeseen delays and costs is work dealing with utility lines. Things can go wrong quickly when utilities are not excavated in a safe and efficient way. Utility strikes and excessive surface damage result in delays, repairs, and new budgetary demands that are difficult to keep up with.

That is why utility potholing is the most recommended way to excavate a construction site. There is a reason why vacuum excavation is now the most popular construction method used for locating utilities: not only does it offer reliable visual confirmation of utilities, but it also greatly reduces the risk of a utility strike. Utility potholing is hands down the ONLY truly non-invasive excavation method currently available.

How Other Methods Measure Up

More traditional methods of utility locating include backhoes and manual labor with shovels and trowels. While these methods can work, they come with a lot of downsides that should be borne in mind. 

Manual Excavation

Those on a tight budget often turn toward manual excavation due to the extremely cheap upfront costs. However, you will quickly learn just how slow and strenuous this method is, leaving you with exhausted workers and probable delays. Costs quickly add up in these situations and a lot of surface damage is caused in the process.

utility potholing

Backhoes

While a backhoe is much more efficient than excavating by hand, this comes with its own set of risks. For example, a backhoe lacks the precision of vacuum excavation, which means the risk of a utility strike is quite high. When a utility line is struck, it can affect the energy or water supply of the local community and your construction project will be hit with hefty fines to compensate those affected. Repairing utility lines can also be an expensive and time-consuming task that will drain your resources that should be focused elsewhere.

Both of these alternative methods also stir up a lot of earth, which makes them very invasive processes. Even if you manage to avoid damaging utility lines, you will end up spending a lot more time and money replacing the earth that was removed in order to begin working on the construction site again. 

Hydro Vacuum Excavation

You can avoid this problem by choosing hydro vacuum excavation instead. This method relies on vacuum excavator equipment which only removes a small patch of earth to reveal the utility lines below. You will find that this results in only the most minimal surface disruption, which can easily and quickly be returned to its original state.

You also will be avoiding utility strikes altogether, which means you won’t have to further excavate for emergency repairs. 

Adequate and Thorough Planning

When you choose to use vacuum excavation to locate your utilities, there are additional planning measures you can take to ensure your excavation work is as non-invasive as possible. 

Consider using one or more of the following tools or techniques:

  • Look at Utility Maps: Util-locate has an extensive collection of utility maps showing the locations of many subsurface level structures including: 
    • utility lines such as power and gas lines
    • pipes or underground cables
    • other objects that other maps or blueprints might not include. 

Using these maps is a great way to decide where to excavate your construction site. You will also be able to estimate how deep your excavation team will need to dig each pothole to attain visual verification of utility locations. 

  • GPR Technology:  Uses Radar technology to provide images of subsurface level structure indications. While this should be used in conjunction with vacuum excavation, it is useful to gather as much data as possible before excavating. GPR is a non-invasive tool that might minimize the amount of excavating required later on. 
  • Hire an Experienced Team: one of the most important things to do is hire a professional team of vacuum excavators. Not only will they understand how to use the excavation equipment properly and safely, but they will also do everything possible to minimize surface damage. While a professional team will require some upfront costs, it is the best option to ensure that utility lines are accurately located and the surface of your construction site remains undisturbed and undamaged. 

When used alongside vacuum excavation, these are the best ways to minimize all types of surface damage so that you can leave behind a small footprint on your construction site. This will keep your construction project moving forward rather than wasting time and money trying to remedy damage to the earth.

Safety on Your Construction Site

We know that safety should be the first priority on any construction site. As with all construction work, excavation can pose certain health and safety risks, especially when sewer and gas lines are involved. The team at Util-locate will always provide the safest utility potholing experience to keep your crew, site, and members of the public safe. 

It is also recommended that you provide your crew with regular safety training throughout the length of the construction project, not just before work begins. This will keep the site very safe and ensure that your crew is aware of new risks that might emerge later on. 

Our team has years of experience utility potholing, which means all of our equipment is used properly, efficiently, and safely. This ensures that utility lines are found efficiently and in a cost-effective, secure way. We will also make sure that the ground of your construction site is disturbed only where necessary so that you don’t have to worry about unexpected costs or delays.