Avoid Excavation Hazards and Utility Strikes, Call the Potholing Experts

It is well known that construction sites are inherently dangerous and there are a lot of risks that go along with excavating earth. Although it is tempting to choose the cheapest or least time-consuming option to get the job done, such choices can lead to expensive disasters down the line. Utility potholing uses vacuum excavation technology in order to carefully and efficiently locate all underground utility lines without damaging them.

Utility potholing is an excellent option for most construction projects and will likely save you and your crew both time and money. Using a professional team will ensure that your construction site is excavated properly and as quickly as possible. While potholing is an investment, it will ensure that you avoid extensive damage and expensive repairs or fines.

Keep reading to learn how vacuum excavation can help your construction project run smoothly without the risk of utility strikes.

Other Tools Don’t Cut It

When you compare potholing to the other tools available, it becomes quickly obvious that professional potholing is the best choice.

Those with smaller construction sites often think that excavating the land by hand is the best option because it is so inexpensive. However, digging with hand tools like shovels and trowels requires grueling physical labor. Depending on the site, it can also take many days to complete. The contractor might want the work completed by a certain deadline and it just isn’t possible to know exactly how long excavating by hand will take.

While hand tools might not cause damage to utility lines, it isn’t recommended that you use this time-intensive and exhausting method.

Read More: What You Need to Know About Potholing for Utilities

Meanwhile, you might also consider renting a backhoe because they are generally considered an affordable and efficient method. However, it is incredibly difficult to use finesse with a backhoe, which means there is a much greater chance of striking a utility line. This is a fine option if you are certain there are no live utility lines under the land but should be avoided otherwise.

If you do opt for a backhoe, remember to employ an experienced spotter who will help guide the equipment and avoid utility lines. Even so, the risk to utility lines is far greater than it would be with vacuum excavation.

How Potholing Works

Potholing works to carefully excavate a construction site through the use of air or water pressure.

Air or water is gently, but firmly, push through the earth so that the locations of utility lines can be discovered without physically touching them. Even better, the use of an air jet allows the earth to be stored and reused at a later time in the construction process. While this cannot be done with a hydro jet, both are great options for keeping your construction site safe.

Potholing is an effective method that involves clearing the earth away from utility lines. It is also time-efficient and cost-effective. When used properly, vacuum excavation is the best method available for any construction project.

Safety Precautions

As with any construction equipment or machinery, safety measures must be taken to ensure the well-being of your crew.

You will still need to plan ahead of time to fully understand how to vacuum excavate the property. For instance, you should call all relevant third parties who have knowledge of the construction site. These third parties may have information concerning utility lines, which will assist you during the excavation.

It is always safer to choose a professional, experienced team. These professionals understand the delicate excavation process and will be much faster and more skilled than an untrained worker.

A professional team will also understand the importance of inspecting the area beforehand. This involves creating a small hole through which the professional can explore the underground area. RADAR or digital technology doesn’t compare to visual verification of what is underground. Damage to underground utilities can result in unexpected expenses from repairs or fines.

Usually, these fines occur if the damage disrupts access to utilities for those living and working in the surrounding area. It is important to respect the local community and do everything possible to ensure the construction is safe and takes necessary precautions.

Read More: Potholing Utilities for A Cost-Efficient and Safer Excavation

When in Doubt, Seek Help

If you are in doubt about how to excavate your construction site, it is advised that you choose potholing. Vacuum excavation is an advanced technique that, when carried out by an expert, is both safe and efficient.

By opting for potholing, you avoid the risk of striking a utility line, which could severely impact the overall success of the construction project.

Not only will a professional team be able to understand the needs of your project, but they will carry out the work without putting workers’ health and well-being at risk, as well as protecting the land itself.

Utility Potholing & Vacuum Excavation for Your Underground Work

The value of precision in any construction project is hard to overstate. If the technology age has taught us anything, it is the value of miniaturization, precise tolerances, and optimizing the process of building a solid foundation for future improvement.

The high-tech environment comes with its share of challenges, however. Beneath our feet is a maze of electrical connections, gas lines, sewer, and water lines and data cables. It seems every building has its own collection of interfaces to city and county facilities. Things are only going to get more complex as time goes on. Construction crews, contractors, and even utility workers can’t afford to make mistakes when it comes to surveying a site for repairs, new construction, or simple maintenance checks.

The solution is to find a company with the experience and the tools to make vacuum excavation and utility potholing simple, quick and effective.

utility potholing

Keeping It Simple

Vacuum excavation services relies on what would seem to be the simplest of principles. Dirt and debris are mixed with water, liquified, and extracted with a high-powered vacuum. It is what regulators call a “non-destructive” process. This new and effective means of removing dirt and rocks from around sensitive underground facilities is now required by some states when crews are digging near safe zones.

Once the underground work is complete, the dirt is replaced by merely reversing the pressure. In the interim, the liquified material is stored in a tank on site. As an added bonus, since the material is already liquified, when it is replaced it “sets” very much like cement. There is often little evidence any digging ever took place.

Safety First

Imagine you are building on a site with pre-installed utilities. You have a backhoe in operation. This means digging at the site without sufficient information or worse, outdated information about what kinds of utility lines are present and where they are located. The backhoe blade strikes a gas line. There is a spark.

This is the kind of situation vacuum excavation, and potholing is meant to prevent. It is necessary to know the precise whereabouts of utility lines. It is also vital to understand the nature of those lines and what they might present in terms of hazards. Safety is always of utmost concern at a job site. The crews are at risk, and so is utility service to the surrounding neighborhoods and region.

Digging precisely and with the right tools and process allows you to know with specificity before you engage in large-scale digging or construction. Making the wrong decision or being in too big a hurry carries with it risks no construction crew should have to face.

The Right Team

It is in every stakeholder’s best interest to have experts in their field doing the work they were trained to do. This is why you need an experienced and knowledgeable team at your construction site to find the utility lines before your crew accidentally damages them. It is better and safer for everyone involved, and in the long run, it will save you time and money.

How to Reduce Trenching and Excavation Safety Hazards


The work involved in exposing underground utilities can be intricate in nature. There is a lack of vision, due to the infrastructure being underneath the ground, meaning that accurately locating the target piping or cabling is difficult. This problem makes it incredibly important to gather as much intelligence as you can on the area in which you are working.

Finding underground schematics for the area is one of the first things that should be done when preparing to start work on a new site. The responsible contracting company that installed the infrastructure will have created detailing documentation for workers to use when performing repairs on the piping and cabling laid beneath the ground. You can use this information to speed along your utility potholing process.

utility potholing

Trenching for Repairs

Trenching is something that can be avoided by using vacuum excavation contractors. However, in some instances, it may be necessary to dig a trench to access the subsurface infrastructure. The proper definition of a trench, defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, is a narrow excavation beneath the ground that is deeper than it is wide while being no wider than 15 feet.

It is crucial to have a competent person perform a survey of the area, aiming to find out the types of soil and rocks in the ground, as well as inspecting your protective systems and conducting regular site inspections. This person will be required by law to inspect trenches at the start of each shift, as well as following a rainstorm.

It is essential to decipher the type of ground materials you are working with, as this can affect the precautions you need to take before starting work. Some important factors that should be taken into account include the soil classification, water content of the soil, use of heavy digging equipment, depth of cut and other changes which can be caused by weather and climate. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or OSHA website, there is a range of safety precautions that need to be taken when trenching. The most common threat when trenching is the risk of collapse, which can result from the surrounding ground materials being too weak to hold up machinery and other items.

Generally, unless the excavation is performed in entirely solid rock, you will need to have a trench protection system in place. The first is called Sloping, which involves cutting the trench wall back at an inclined angle to ensure that debris does not fall into the trench. The second method is called Shoring and requires more work, such as the installation of support, items such as an aluminum hydraulic to prevent soil movement and cave-ins. The third and final method is Shielding, which protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of support that avoid soil cave-ins.

Overall, trenching and excavation are some of the most hazardous construction operations that you can undertake. This danger is why it is critical to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of workers on-site.

Knowing What’s Buried Underneath Before Excavation

Before beginning an excavation project, it is essential to know the underground utilities found within that region. This will help you avoid circumstances that will slow or stall your projects such as court orders due to interference with underground utilities. This is why you need to hire qualified private locator services to help you identify locations underground infrastructure.

We have compiled this article, to help you understand what underground utilities locating services entail, its benefits and the best company to hire for this service. Let us get started.

Services offered by private locators

If you are beginning an excavation project in an area, here are some services you will get when you hire our private utility locating services:

  • Detection of water pipes and sewer channels in the region. Util-Locate Company will guide you on the specific locations of water lines and sewer channels to avoid bursting these important underground utilities which can add on to your operational costs.
  • Location of underground telecommunication gadgets. Using our cable locating services, we will identify telecommunication cables, and other lines found underground in the area you want to develop.
  • Identification of underground tanks, gas, and electric lines, Util-Locate Company will mark all the electric lines in the region. It will also detect the gas supply channels to prevent gas leaks which can cause disasters such as fires and blasts.

Along with these services, Util-Locate also applies the latest technology such as the high-resolution GPR in finding untraceable storm lines, sewers, and conduits.

Benefits of hiring a private locator

  • Public locators will locate only public utilities.

Simply said, if you privately own a utility, then State Locators are not viable to help you with locating services. This is why you need to hire a private locator company which will respond to your needs as quickly as possible.

  • Utility locating helps save lives and avoid damage to property. 

The cost of repairing damages is always high, and you know how painful it is to pay for something you never budgeted for because of a mistake. Damages can occur when you temper with infrastructures such as water and sewer lines.

Electrocution and possibly death can occur when you hit underground power lines. Gas explosions can occur when gas pipes are accidentally hit. All these can result in injuries and destruction of property which would cost a lot of money.

Save yourself these unnecessary troubles by hiring underground utilities locating services.

  • Utility Locating services helps save on operational costs

When handling a big project, chances are that saving money is one of your top priorities. Operational costs will surge if you end up damaging underground utilities such as sewer lines and water pipes. These unnecessary costs can be avoided by hiring a private locator to check the specific locations of these underground utilities.

Looking to find a private locator company that will help you identify the underground utilities at your excavation site? Call Util-Locate for the best locating services!

How to Accurately Locate Sewer Lines

When homeowners take the initiative of digging into the ground, they might end up damaging the buried sewer lines. This can lead to a costly expedition that can be avoided by contracting a reputable private utility locating company.

Our company has vast experience in this field, and we are currently ranked the best private utility locating firm in Southern California. We have worked with several clients who have expressed satisfaction in our private locator services.

Why You Need a Private Locator Services

We are a reliable utility locator company that offers a variety of services regardless of the scope of the project.

The most common misconception is that sewer lines appear just a few inches below from the edge of sight. This is however not true and can lead to permanent damage on other public utility lines that lie below the line of sight. That is why you need a reputable company to help in accurately locating sewer lines.

At Util-Locate, we offer a 97% accuracy level that allows us to identify the exact location of the sewer lines.

How We Locate the Sewer Lines

Our technicians are highly skilled and have worked in the utility locating industry for quite a while. They know the basics surrounding sewer lines prospectus. Their vast knowledge is essential in helping them to accurately identify the sewer lines and fix them if they are damaged.

The technicians use electromagnetic sensors and GPR technology to send a signal that penetrates to the exact location of the buried sewer lines. The signals bounce back to the electronic devices that calculate the depth and the position of the sewer lines automatically. The technicians then interpret the signals accurately and start the process of digging down to the exact location of the sewer lines.

When to contact us

Most people make the mistake of contacting utility companies when they have already started digging or doing an excavation. This is not advisable as it might be too late and expensive because damage may have been already done onto the sewer lines.

Make an effort and call us for the sewer line prospectus job before you start the actual designing or digging process. This will save you the cost that would be incurred after damaging the buried sewer lines.

Our services will prevent your business from such situations and multiple lawsuits that may arise due to the disruption of a community’s sewer line system.

At Util-Locate, we understand the hustle that our clients go through while trying to locate a sewer line before beginning a construction process. We also know the risks that may come along with an inaccurate prospectus. That is why we have we offer the best underground utilities locating services that are beneficial to our clients.

Our team is dedicated to satisfying the needs and will stop at nothing than their approval. We have a track record that speaks for itself because we have been consistent in service delivery and we are not stopping anytime soon.

Kindly contact us at 1(888)885-6228 for more information regarding our underground utility locating services.

General Tips for Locating Underground Utilities


When you are looking for any type of underground infrastructure, from sewer lines to fiber optic cables, the most important aspect of your search is having complete accuracy in order to find them.  In order to have accuracy, the city can be of assistance to find out about main water lines, along with using the right equipment above ground.  After definitive infrastructures have been established they have to be inspected and then checked continuously throughout the excavation process to be sure there is no guesswork involved in properly completing the job.  Here are four tips to assist when locating underground utilities.

  1. For Residential Areas – Map the Entire House to the Main Line

Since everything is underground, this information is usually available online in most city areas with city website maps or some cities will redirect you to the local department of water and power.  For more rural areas, the information above in the first tip will likely be of assistance.  For example, in the city of Los Angeles, a map shows the sewer system main lines and the direction it flows throughout most areas of the city.  An important piece of information that will need to be determined is how long and deep the property line connection is to your home.  This can be determined from a city utility map or perhaps by calling 811.  

  1.  Determine Where Excavation Should Begin and End Plus Obstacles

Before any action is taken to dig, all work completed will depend on your location whether it be rural or urban.  If your repair is rural, you will likely have fewer obstacles in your way such as neighbors driveways, sidewalks, etc.  However, if your location is urban, this is something to be on the lookout for when trenching.  The first process of mapping out the area is so key that it can take a bit of time.  It is good to remember that the sooner you can map out the right spot to dig, the sooner you can get on with the process of inspecting and then trenching which also can take time to complete.

  1. Look For A Utility Location Service That Has The Right Tools

If you are looking for complete accuracy in finding the underground utilities in your area, there are usually utility location service companies that can also find out for you depending on where you are located.  These companies have the right electromagnetic location equipment to avoid any risks in the excavation process.  Without the right tools, it is complete guesswork to try and find out where the lines are located underground.  There have been great advancements in technology that will help prevent unexpected collisions with existing lines below ground.  All knowledge is acquired above ground with electromagnetic equipment or ground penetrating radar that takes measurements through many of earth’s surfaces.

All in all, the main reason why accuracy is so important in finding utility lines underground is that you do not want to cause an environmental hazard for yourself, family, neighbors, or the city.  Once a major mistake is made it is not always easy to repair and the results of a minor one can be a disaster for many people.  It is best to hire a professional that has experience performing this type of work, fact-checking, and a general knowledge of utility lines in the area.    

Related page: what is potholingunderground utilities locator