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Finding buried utilities

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Dirt Boy, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. Dirt Boy

    Dirt Boy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 487

    Perhaps this has been discussed elsewhere, but:
    How/what/etc. do you rely on to detect buried utilities?
    I know you call "diggers hotline", but they don't tell you how deep something is, and then are only within something like 18" either way.
    Do you dig a trench 15" deep at the start/end to make sure you are not going to hit them when plowing/trenching your pipe in?
    Do you use your own detecting equipment? If so, what kind?
    Would a general metal detector work? Or do you need more sophisticated tools?
    Obviously better tools are there, but I don't need to know if it's 10' in the ground, all we need to know is down to 15".
    Do your digger hotline locators do a better job than mine?
    I have talked with a few utilities, and there is no "standard" for depth. How about your areas?

  2. I use my 521 locator....
  3. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,974

    Yep, me too...a lot of times you can get the purveyors to help.
  4. Bigred350

    Bigred350 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 779

    Around here they are usually right on 99 % of the time. I talked to a localer guy the other day and he said the company he works (Alabama locating service) for has cracked down on all of them really hard. If they are off by 8" or more and the line is cut then its there fault.

    Sometime I take my locater and check the gas,telephone and cable just to make sure. My locater will usually not locate the electricity cause its to deep and I dont get a good signal.

    And we still always hand dig over the lines when trenching.
  5. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,799

    Hand dig 2' on either side of all utility locates.

    It only takes hitting one telephone trunk line to sink a business.
  6. EagleLandscape

    EagleLandscape LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Garland, Texas
    Posts: 4,347

    Just hand dig!

    I was building some houses last summer, and I had asked the guy that was doing the flatwork to remove a large hackberry tree for me with their excavator, but then decided not to and told him to hold off.

    I came back later that day to find 4 telephone trucks, 2 trailers, and two mini exs and multiple guys with chainsaws cutting up the downed tree from the contractors peon laborer who ended up bailing on the job when it fell. Once it fell, it blocked the whole street, and took a section of an underground phone line for 70+ homes with it.

    Took them half a day to dig out the line from the roots, and from what I hear they ended up sending the guy a bill for 6k+.

    I thought they were being easy on him. Lines were also located.
  7. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 25,382

    We just lift the plow blade out of the ground , drag it over utility above ground , then hand dig em down.
  8. No magic bullets for utilities. Locate and proceed with extreme caution. Be on the job when all digging near utilities is being done. Don't leave your flunkies alone on the job until all hazards are dealt with.
  9. Rotor_Tool

    Rotor_Tool LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 349

    Bury the blade and start pulling pipe. The machine has an uncanny way of finding utilities that the locators weren't even aware of. :laugh:
  10. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,974

    All useful information..all I can add is to double check with all the utilities &
    client. Be on the site when the locate is done, it could be your word against theirs.
    In my market, the locators are notorious for missing stuff.
    We hit a fiber optic cable that no one seemed to know existed; took a high-
    powered stock broker off line during the trading session. All I could do was give him my
    contractor's shrug & point to the colors on the ground, no orange anywhere where we hit.

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