An underground utility locator is a helpful tool for finding buried lines. As you plan for your next excavation project, be sure to use the right tools and avoid these common underground utility location misconceptions.
Buried Utilities Are Easy To Find
One of the biggest misconceptions when working around buried utilities is that it’s going to be easy to locate them. While this is true if you’re using a utility locator, it’s actually much more complicated without the right tools.
Be sure to always use a locator even if you’re working with a map of the nearby utilities. Use your locator to find the position of utility lines and start your digging operation away from the location. Consider digging as far as 10 feet away from the lines to be sure you aren’t hitting a line.
Continue to dig around the buried lines by hand if necessary. Even the smallest excavator can have difficulties navigating one or more buried lines without damaging them or slowing down the work process. Hand digging may take longer but it can help avoid damage and injury.
Utility Strikes Are Rare
A utility strike represents a significant cost. Whether you’re a surveyor or a construction worker, strikes are an unfortunate reality of your industry. Avoid the damage and liability of a utility strike by being cautious as you work around utilities.
Don’t assume you know where lines are, whether you have a map or have used a locator, but continue to dig cautiously until you can verify the utility location. Once you find a utility, work around it carefully. Dig by hand if necessary to prevent a strike from breaking a pipe or damaging an electrical wire.
Old Maps Are Still Accurate
A map that’s 10 years old or more may not give you an accurate understanding of the nearby utilities. Use a locator any time you’re working in an area with utilities and don’t assume the depth or location of utilities is accurately marked on an old map.
Try to find an updated map to help you quickly locate the approximate position of utilities. Be sure to use your locator to sweep other areas for possible utilities, but a map can help you save time and quickly find known lines buried on or near your construction site.
Abandoned Lines Are Safe To Dig Up
An abandoned line can seem like just a scrap piece of wire or pipe in the ground. Old utility lines can still be a hazard to construction workers, so don’t assume they’re safe to dig up.
Use a utility locator to find any active or abandoned lines. Avoid abandoned lines, since they may be used as a conduit for new utilities. An abandoned line can still slow down your excavation process or damage equipment if not treated carefully.
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