Utility locating requires technology to map all the cables, pipes, and other services under a site’s surface. Utility locators can chart where underground pipes and cables are located to ensure they are avoided during an excavation project. When you correctly map the components under a site’s surface, you can plan around these pipes and cables. 

There are many misconceptions surrounding this process, including the following:

1. It’s easy to mark out all my utilities

Utility locating companies can provide this service. However, many only mark the underground utilities’ public portions. They may mark electrical power, telecommunication, and natural gas lines from the street to your buildings but may not mark water, sanitary sewer, and storm drain utilities. 

2. Private utility locators will mark out all your utilities

Private utility locators will try to meet your needs completely, but locating technologies have limitations, and the private locator may only be able to mark some relevant utilities. Even ground-penetrating radar (GPR) has limitations, and all utilities are not guaranteed to be located. 

For this reason, you must proceed with caution when completing ground-intrusive work.

3. You can sit back and relax until the utility locating service arrives

Complex sites require work before the utility locators arrive. Ensure minimal obstructions, such as parked cars or piled construction materials, are in the target survey area. You should also check to see if there are accesses to the areas around the target survey area. Depending on the site, there may be locked utility rooms or fenced utility setups, and access may need to be prearranged. 

You should also check whether you can obtain utility records or maps. These documents can provide important clues and make a big difference in locating and missing some utilities. 

4. Utility mark out is accurate 

Mark outs can be based on records and may not reflect actual locations. This means the information could be more accurate, even if locating technologies are used. While locating technologies like ground-penetrating radar and line tracing can provide a high level of accuracy, they all have limitations. The instrument readings are ultimately subject to the operator’s interpretation.

When completing a drilling project, stay as far away from marked lines as possible. Parallel utilities may be following a marked line if you are completing an excavation project. One marked line can indicate a single pipe/cable or a group of parallel pipes/cables close to each other. 

5. My utility map does not show utilities in my proposed drilling or excavation area, so I don’t need to locate underground utilities. 

Past records are only sometimes accurate or complete. Unknown underground utilities are often detected when underground utilities are located.

6. Only metallic pipes/cables, fibre optic cables and concrete pipes can be detected

While GPR is not an all-seeing tool, it can be used to find the locations of non-metallic utilities if subsurface conditions are favourable. Additionally, if you have access, you can insert a metallic trace wire into the hollow pipe or conduit. This would allow you to trace non-metallic utilities using a cable/pipe locator system. 

7. Ground penetrating radars can see all underground utilities 

A GPR cannot see utilities by itself and is an extension of human senses with limitations. Limited penetration depth and data interpretation difficulties are two of its main limitations, especially in some subsurface conditions. 

8. Future utility mark outs are not required if I complete one now

Underground utility locating involves many variables, so you should not use today’s mark out results for future ground-intrusive projects. Soil condition, for example, varies with seasons and weather, which can significantly affect GPR performance. Additionally, utility locators may not have full access to the site because of obstructions during the survey. 

Are you looking for reliable utility locating companies? Ontario Utility Locates Inc. can provide you with the right information. You can rely on our team to locate underground utility line services. We aim to provide clients with the most accurate and effective locates possible. Our highly trained team and use of the latest technologies make us one of Ontario’s best utility-locating companies.

Contact us today for all of your locate needs!

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