Techniques and Tools Home Owners can use to Avoid Damaging Utility Lines during Excavation

Whether it is a small trench or foundation for an annex building, it is common for home owners to hit utility lines during excavation. These may be water, sewer, electricity, gas, or communication lines. Damaging these facilities inconveniences communities and households and may result in equipment damage or injury. It may also lead to fines by local authorities due to damaging of property. Identifying and avoiding these utility lines is, therefore, a challenge for home owners during excavation. To this end, here are a few techniques and tools households can put to use to avoid hitting utility lines.

Map the Utilities

Most local authorities map all service lines. Sydney Water, for example, provides diagrams to help interested parties locate sewer and water lines. Home owners should secure an updated map to determine if they are likely to encounter a utility line. The savvy ones can use GPS devices and other precision instruments while digging around their yards. It is good practice to note markings that indicate the presence of utility lines as well. These include color-coded paint or flags.

Alternatively, it is a good practice to call the utility company in cases of uncertainty. This is particularly helpful because maps might be inaccurate because of update delays.

Ground Penetrating Radar

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a user-friendly tool that can be put to use. The device measures reflected radio waves to determine the location and size of underground objects. This gadget has the advantage of mapping multiple utilities and undocumented lines.

Hydro Vacuum Excavation

Although intended for medium to large-scale excavation, a few home owners will find vacuum excavators effective in avoiding damage to utility lines. This tool uses water or air to expose underground utilities without damaging them. The excavator works by removing soil particles and debris from the ground without destructive groundbreaking actions. The type of excavator used depends on ground conditions and type of soil.

Metal Detectors

Metal detectors are the simplest and cheapest method of detecting underground cables and pipes. The tool uses electromagnetics to detect metallic objects. It only detects metallic objects and therefore is unsuitable for detecting plastic pipes. It also detects all buried metallic objects leading to many false readings. But the user-friendly device is readily available in most stores.

Plastic Pipe Locators

Identifying buried PVC pipes is challenging for home owners, but not impossible. Plastic locator gadgets use acoustic means for location. Sound waves are used to create pressure waves that is then measured electronically and used to determine the location of pipes. Like most of the devices mentioned earlier, plastic locators are easy to use for a layman.