View Full Version : Utility Location equipment

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 10:35 AM
What is the latest and greatest out there ?

RockSet N' Grade
01-31-2008, 11:45 AM
I have a pair of witching sticks that my wife bought me years ago. I have become amazed. This is my first line of defense. I know it is not exactly what you are asking, but they are inexpensive and I carry them with me all the time.

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 11:48 AM
I use copper wire bent in a L shape as well.LOL

RockSet N' Grade
01-31-2008, 12:10 PM
AWJ....I have a friend (believe it or not) who runs a location service. He has the latest and greatest electronic equipment. You want the names and models of the equipment he uses?

01-31-2008, 12:23 PM
My neighbour works for a new type of Ground Penetration Radar/ X-ray company, he's very hush-hush.

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 12:26 PM
I would be ineterested for sure.

I guess I want a good peice of equipment that will not break the bank and is effective and fast.
Most of our utilities from the street to the house are 3 foot of less deep.
We have a clay type soil.

I would as well like to know peoples techniques on finding septic drain field lines.

01-31-2008, 12:28 PM
Smell is a good method!!

Sometimes you can see the septic trenches in the summer or spring months.

01-31-2008, 12:53 PM
I like to call Miss Utility. " Before you dig, every dig, called Miss Utility, its the law" If I need to find a water line or shut off valve I use two coat hangers bent out straight and at a 90 where my hands hold them. When they cross I know it under me. It sounds like an old wise tale but it works for me.

01-31-2008, 02:21 PM
First off, I always call in a locate before I do anything. From there, if I hit anything, my hind side is covered. Aside from that. I used a device this summer that worked pretty well. Only works if you have a tracer wire, but it does work. Basically you clamp a lead wire from the unit to the tracer wire and ground out another wire. Then you have a handheld unit that beeps and when you swing it across the path.

Other than that, I've used witching sticks and metal detectors.

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 08:34 PM
Occasionally the location you called in is not done.
Then what do you do?Load up and go home?

01-31-2008, 10:05 PM
I always take a chance and start working where it requires minimal ground disturbance or where I know their is nothing buried until they get their to mark the site. One of the last jobs I did the miss utility man marked the site after I worked on it for an entire day.

01-31-2008, 10:20 PM
I've never had them not show up. One time the power guys forgot one line all together. I hit 2 legs of 220 and 2 legs of 110 with our 303. Luckily I didn't damage anything other than my pride that day, didn't feel them at all. They came out, fixed it at no cost to us, everyone had a good laugh and that was that. Maybe we're lucky up here.

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 10:23 PM
They screw up here about 10% of the time.

So what do you do if there is a pool and an out building?
The locater is not responsible for those utilities.

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 10:27 PM
The law states after the deadline for the location to be complete you are off the hook.However if you cut any of the utilities you look bad in the customers eyes.
Also we have utilities from one yard that veres into another yard and is never marked.
I work mostly for homeowners so it will help me tremendously.

01-31-2008, 10:37 PM
Pool and outbuilding is the homeowner's deal, if they don't know where they are, how should you? If they have somewhat of an idea, we'll dig around for a little while and try to find them, but I don't waste much time. Worst case scenario, we cut the water supply or breaker for that line and go to town. Once we find it, we fix it, no big deal.

01-31-2008, 10:41 PM
I had a job one time where I hit the power lines and the marks where off by a couple feet so not my fault. Long story short the lady from the power company asked why I hit the lines and I said they where not marked correctly. She pointed and said that isn't close enough? Low and behold the marks where directly over the lines. I scratched my head and then figured it out. When I was in talking to the builder waiting for the power company to come out Miss Utility had come out and remarked that area. I had proof though as the marker man marked over my pile that came out of the ditch. I asked that laddy how I was able to dig the ditch and pick up the painted lines and then put them back down on the pile. I told Miss Utility if they wouldn't take the blame then they could talk to my lawyer. They took all responsibility and I have never had an issue since. If you hit something always stay on site and don't let that happen to you.

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 10:46 PM
Worst case scenario, we cut the water supply or breaker for that line and go to town. Once we find it, we fix it, no big deal.

Why not just spend 5 minutes and locate it?

Plus I can see me telling the homeowner the only way to find there power line to there out building was to dig through it.
Plus it is Illegal for an unlicensed electrician to repair damaged wires.

01-31-2008, 11:22 PM
I understand what you're saying, but utility finders we are not. I don't know anyone who carries location equipment with them and to be honest with you, it's not my problem. I call the locate, they do their job, if the homeowner doesn't know there their stuff is, why should I have to find it? I can see locating private utilities yourself if you had the equipment, but since we're on page 2 of this thread and nobody here has really given any good leads toward equipment for locating buried electrical lines, it's become clear that most people have the same attitude as myself. I have yet to run into a situation where the homeowner didn't know where something was, but I can imagine being on site and telling them the only way to find it is to dig it up. Who would they be to yell at you? Absolutely nobody is going to call you out for not being able to locate their private utilities, that isn't going to happen and if anyone did, I'd load up and head out. To me, being in possesion of location equipment is like adding another service to your company. Haven't that equipment is not a necessity for this business, but I will agree that it couldn't hurt.

And no, I would not repair an electrical line myself, but the customer would foot the bill for that repair job.

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 11:37 PM
Scag I was not trying to be a butt in what I was posting and I would not think that you would ever do anything detrimental to a customers property.
I have a unique situation in that I work on properties that often time encompass several acres with multiple buildings.
It stinks and I like the fact that the customer can depend on me to get the job done no matter the obstacles presented to me.

Plus all of the pipe and utility contractors here have their own location equipment as well as most irrigation contractors.

I honestly thought more people would have them ,but as you pointed out most must not need them.

01-31-2008, 11:44 PM
No worries man, your situation is a little different than ours. Most of our work is on smaller lots with very little private underground stuff and even then, 99% of the time the homeowner knows pretty close to where it is. We'll scrape around with a machine and use a shovel to find it.

Here's what you ought to do. Get yourself a 16 year old kid and have him run the machine where you think there might be a line. Go ape$h!t on him when he hits it. Best locate device ever made. :laugh: Just tell the customer you found it but your new operator nailed it after you found it. :drinkup:

AWJ Services
01-31-2008, 11:49 PM
Thats Funny.

I was using the shovel too help cut the sod pulling pipe when a vibratory plow pulled through the main service to a house and flames erupted from the ground.;)

Talk about 2 dumbfounded people.Me and the operator.

01-31-2008, 11:55 PM
There's a technical, operative term for a situation like that:

Not good.

At least nobody got killed. I figure when I make mistakes at work, if I can walk away with all my body parts fully in tact, I did alright for the day. :waving:

AWJ Services
02-01-2008, 12:03 AM
All the main lines are 3ft down too code.
Well the landscapers cut the yard down in this spot and the main line was 4 inches down.We were pulling irrigation which is only 12 inches deep at the most.Of course we assumed it was 3 ft deep.
We always pull over the lines.

Yopu can never take anything for granted.

02-01-2008, 12:07 AM
I hit a main power line with a old D3 Cat dozer and blew a hole in the blade about 11" in diameter. It made one heck of a pop sound and blew all the dirt up in the air. It scared the crap out of me.

02-01-2008, 12:27 AM
I was diving T-posts last summer with a hyd. breaker on a mini-x and drove one though the 7200 volt power line the locates were off 3 feet.Had a lot of fun with locate last summer had 5 locates off more than 10 feet each on diff. jobs, I wanted to kill the phone locate guy. One locate was off 18 feet on a
2" gas main,I had already dug across the main and missed it by 1 1/2" :eek::eek:


02-01-2008, 12:42 AM
All the main lines are 3ft down too code.
Well the landscapers cut the yard down in this spot and the main line was 4 inches down.We were pulling irrigation which is only 12 inches deep at the most.Of course we assumed it was 3 ft deep.
We always pull over the lines.

Yopu can never take anything for granted.

AWJ Do you put your irrigation lines in with a vibatory plow.What size are the irrigation lines.

I have a vibatory plow that i use to for siltfence,and they said it could be used for irrigation lines and cable like for tv or phone.

Don't have to irrigate here much and no one does it ,but was wondering about if that was what you was using when the other guy hit the line.

Might find some idea of at least what brands are out there by checking Ebay,i saw them on there,several different types and brands.

Here the locate is called "one call" they do a pretty good job,just have more trouble getting the women that takes the call ins to get the info right for the locate guys.I usually tell them to have the locate guy to call me on the cell phone,when he get there.

That way i know he has been there before i get there and we are both on the same page.Plus if he or i have any question i get to talk to a real person:).:usflag:

02-01-2008, 12:57 AM
I'm a lineman for the local power company. Think about what bigben said he did to the d3. When you see the damage that can be done with electricity it can be horrifying. Do a search for electrocution photos and you will think twice. It burns from the inside out. Then they have to scrub your burned skin with a scotchbrite pad. I know you guys said that you always try to have it marked but as you know they don't always mark it correctly. It's more amps then voltage that will kill you. To answer your question AWJ not sure who makes the locator's that the company uses but I will find out and let you know.

AWJ Services
02-01-2008, 12:59 AM
It was my friends plow.It is a Case MaxiSneaker.
Same thing they use for phone and cable.

To answer your question AWJ not sure who makes the locator's that the company uses but I will find out and let you know.


02-01-2008, 02:25 AM
The craziest thing I ever saw was when a crew was installing a temporary fence before we were to do some demolition. They used a handheld slide hammer to drive in 1 1/2 inch pipes for a chain link fence. While stretching and attatching the wire fabric to the posts one post exploded with a shower of sparks and blew a hole in the ground. It turns out that a high voltage cable feeding a transformer was scraped by the pipe and as the insulation burned away it eventually arced underground blowing up the limerock and cutting the pipe! White-hot molten steel continued to arc as the pipe melted as it sank in. No locator service was called, but the cable was illegally installed across the property instead of through the correct easement. Those laborers were very lucky that they were at the ends stretching the fence and not near that post. I actually saved the steel casting formed from the incident, it's in my clutter pile somewhere.

02-01-2008, 10:08 AM
McLaughlin makes a decent utility locator http://www.mightymole.com/utility-locators.html . If there is some way you can hook on a wire you will find the path.

02-03-2008, 11:31 AM
Hey awj. I talked to a guy that works in the substation Dept. He said the company bought a new Ridgid Navitrack. He didn't know the exact model but says it worked well the few time that he used it. I guess they have an outside contractor that does all the locating now. Hope this helps. If need be I can get the exact model #.

AWJ Services
02-03-2008, 12:25 PM
I found them on the web.The part# would be nice if possible.

02-03-2008, 11:46 PM
Subsurface Instruments makes several units designed to locate just about anything from fiber optic to septic tanks. Quite expensive for the top of the line locator. I have hired a locating crew that owns the equipment and is pretty skilled at its use - do not need it often enough to justify the cost. Check online at www.ssilocators.com . Work on cell towers with fiber optic, propane/natural gas, underground feeders and a ton of other stuff buried in a small area. Punching in the wrong place means I pay for repairs and probably lose the contract and my locating company has insurance to cover if they make mistake.

02-04-2008, 12:56 AM
Couple weeks ago I dug out next to a foundation 7 feet deep. Measured from inside the basement and knew where the electric and water lines were. Gas line was on the other side of the house. I got about 2/3 of the way done and found some "caution buried gas line" tape. Got me good and paranoid but it turned out to be scrap leftover from the build. I'd like to strangle the guy who threw that in the hole. I used a tape measure to locate those utilities.

02-06-2008, 10:54 PM
I am an irrigation contractor and I had the same problems as you with regards to locating utilites. The local ditchwicth dealer here sells locating equipment I bought one for 1800.00 I should have spent the 2800.00 and got the real nice one. There is a person in Minnesota the web address is www.locatorsandsupplies.com The persons name is Richard He should be able to help you.

03-13-2008, 12:20 AM
Hey AWJ:

If you haven't found a locator yet, give us a call. We are the dealer for McLaughlin locaters in Georgia - we'll be glad to show you our unit on a job and show you how it works.

Vermeer Southeast 770-973-8811 Marietta, GA

Eric R.
03-16-2008, 04:57 AM
Here are some tools I have been looking into.



I actualy have and started playing with a Goldak 5600 locator. My dad got this unit used and is letting me borrow it. It seems to work pretty well.