Digging without first knowing where all utility lines are located can be a recipe for disaster. Utility locating services let you know exactly where all utilities are before you start digging—so you don’t dig up your neighbor’s backyard, driveway, or yard. Even if your city has a call before you dig the program in place, it doesn’t hurt to have someone out there who is qualified and insured. Better safe than sorry! If you plan on doing any type of major landscaping project, hire a locator service to ensure that nothing will go wrong. This could save you thousands of dollars in repair bills down the road. Before hiring an underground locator service, make sure they’re bonded and insured.
Utility lines are often buried underground, making them difficult or impossible to see. If you’re having a new structure built, consider hiring an aviation professional—preferably one who has been trained in utility locating services—to search for and identify utility lines before any digging begins. A few hours spent in flight can prevent thousands of dollars in repairs later on. Also worth considering? Utility locators offer aerial photography services that make it easier to identify potential trouble spots—it’s another way they help home and business owners protect themselves from costly repair bills.
Pet safety is important when doing any kind of digging, and utility locating services are no exception. Whether you’re planting trees or installing a fence, you need to know that your pets are safe. If a tree you’re planting is close enough to where your pet usually digs, protect them by placing flags around where they dig. Make sure they’re far enough away from anything that might be dug up during tree installation. Alternatively, consider fencing off an area for your pet when you have utility locating services done so they can play in an enclosed area without worry. It’s best for all parties involved if pets stay away from digging sites until work is completed.
Utility locating services are a quick and easy way to identify gas, electric, sewer, and water lines beneath your property. If you’re planning any significant excavation or repair projects, it’s a good idea to use these services. Your utility company will be able to provide you with information about their location under your property—but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for tracking them down. Depending on where you live and what type of project you have in mind, different companies might be better suited for locating utilities in your area. These include local or state departments that deal specifically with such issues (often called One Stop Shop Programs) or third-party companies that specialize in identifying buried pipes and wires.
At some point, you might want to dig up your utility lines and relocate them. Until that happens, consider installing locator devices in your home, especially if you have children or pets who may be in danger of knocking over a water heater, heating vent, or other potentially dangerous household appliance. Line locating kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Simply follow the instructions included with your kit and take note of any buried utilities before you dig!
The more you hurry, the more likely you are to make a costly mistake. Slow down and work carefully, especially when digging near buried wires. Whenever possible, call in a professional electrician or other licensed utility locator who will know how to dig safely around power lines and gas pipes. If hiring a professional isn’t an option for your DIY project (or if you simply don’t want to spend that kind of money). One of the best ways to protect yourself from accidentally hitting an underground utility is by marking off areas where you won’t be digging. Setting up cones, stakes, strings or flags will keep others away from your area while still letting them see what areas should be avoided. Be sure to remove any markers before starting work so as not to confuse anyone else who might be working nearby. Digging inside a marked-off area could lead to fines and/or injury if someone accidentally digs into a wire or pipe later on.
When you’re working around a utility line, which is often encased in thin and easily breakable plastic or steel tubing, it’s better to err on the side of caution. First, call your local utility provider. They might be able to send someone out and verify what needs repair. If it looks like more than just a quick fix, consider hiring a licensed professional. Again, talk with your utility provider as soon as possible so they can schedule a time for repairs. Remember that if you don’t get any immediate assistance from your utility company, you should probably assume that you have damaged a gas line or water pipe.
There are few tasks less enjoyable than trying to locate utility lines, particularly if you live in an older home. In many cases, older homes were built with buried power and plumbing lines—and finding them is difficult. Asking a professional locator is often a better option; not only can they get your project done quickly and without hassle, but you’ll avoid exposing yourself or others to costly mistakes. So before hiring a locator, ask these questions first