Understanding the Basics of Utility Locating Equipment

It’s common to lose something useful or important. About 17% of the population loses something important every day. It’s scary enough that 78% did not find that missing item ever again!

So what if that important thing is the underground utilities? This is why there are different kinds of utility locating equipment in the market nowadays.

Keep reading as we discuss what you need to know about how utility locating works.

What Is Utility Locating? 

Utility locating involves high-tech tools that create a clear map of what’s underground. People can look through infrastructures without damaging subsurface lines.

There are different equipment based on electromagnetic and ground-penetrating radar technology. Here are some of the most common utility location equipment:

(GPR) Ground Penetrating Radar 

The ground penetrating radar equipment is for locating all sorts of buried utilities. Various utility locating tools have two parts, a receiver, and a transmitter. With GPR, the transmitter casts radio waves toward the ground. 

As these radio waves hit anything below ground, they mirror the object to the receiver. The receiver decodes these signals into a picture of the thing underground.

(RF) Radio Frequency

Radio frequency equipment locates pipes, cables, and conductive utilities. This utility locating equipment uses high frequencies to determine buried objects. When locating utilities, the transmitter connects wirelessly or directly to the line and generates a signal. 

(EM) Electromagnetic Locators

Like RF, these magnetic locators can only find conductive utilities. The device’s transmitter emits a distinct electromagnetic frequency underground. Once transmitted via a metallic pipe, the receiver will identify and trace the spot. 

Utility Locating Equipment Uses and Importance

Using utility locator tools for excavation projects can reduce the risk of accidents. Utility location generally involves public utilities in homes and commercial buildings. Locating services get conducted with vacuum, hydro, and safe excavation.

A utility locator reduces the likely damage from breaking and hitting underground utilities. Its subsurface mapping can lower exposure to harmful electric wires and wastewater lines.

Which Utility Locating Equipment Is Best?

The EM locating equipment is the basic utility locating system. Most locator services use GPR and EM equipment on almost all locating projects. EM only finds metallic objects but is easier to operate, faster, and more accurate than GPR. 

However, GPR devices can find non-conductive and conductive materials with a locator team. Using EM and GPR equipment together can accurately locate all underground utilities. When deciding which utility locators to use, also consider the environmental conditions. 

Soil moisture and conductivity levels help in deciding how well locators can work. For instance, GPR functions better in sandy soils but can have difficulty in dense clay soils.

If you’re looking to find accessories for locating equipment, check here.

Basics of Utility Locating Equipment

Utility locating equipment is critical for any underground excavation project. A utility locator will use GPR and EM technology to make a map of all the subsurface utilities. Making sure to map out subsurface utilities will lower liability risk in the case of an accident.

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