When to Call a Private Utility Locator

Locating Underground Utilities

When performing digging and other excavation work it is more common than you would think to encounter utilities buried underground. Public utility providers offer a free “call before you dig” service in which a trained technician visits a site to identify and mark out the locations of public underground utilities. These services are a valuable tool in locating and avoiding hitting public underground utilities.

While it’s extremely important to utilize public utility locators, one major component is left out- private utility locating. It is for this reason that private utility locating companies such as GPRS are a quick phone call away from helping you locate private underground utilities.

What is the difference between public and private utilities?

Public utilities are installed by utility companies to provide service to an area. These lines are owned and maintained by the public utility company, regardless of whether they are located on public or private property. Public utilities typically include gas, power, and electric.

Private utilities are utilities which extend beyond service meters or public utilities, often on to privately owned property. Examples of private utilities can include electrical feeders and gas mains running through parking lots or to critical facilities such as hospitals or fire stations. They can also include lines running to and from substations, heavy industrial facilities, and refineries. These utilities would be owned and maintained by the property owner, placing them outside of the jurisdiction of public utility locating companies.

Why isn’t using a public utility locator enough?

Drawings and maps for private utilities may be missing or outdated, or an owner may not even be aware of the utility’s existence. Private utilities extend beyond the scope of public utility locators, meaning that an additional service must be used to ensure an area is safe to dig.

While public utility location “call before you dig” is a useful and necessary step in performing ground work, private utility location is equally important. Private utilities are typically unmarked and can be found in numerous locations, both commercial and residential. Locations include parking lots, fire and police stations, industrial areas, hospitals and medical facilities, apartment complexes and even private backyards. It is generally the property owner’s job to maintain them, though this varies by state. Some examples of buried private utilities are:

  • Septic systems
  • Sprinkler and other irrigation lines
  • Exterior electrical lines
  • Internet cable
  • Fiber optics
  • Gas mains

What happens if a private utility is hit?

Performing excavation work without first locating private utilities is a dangerous activity. Workers can easily be injured or killed when buried utilities are hit, making the location of buried utilities a safety matter above all. Damage can occur to the utility and to the equipment being used.

Due to the nature of buried utilities, repairs can be costly and time consuming. Repairs often necessite the digging up of the entire length of pipe, cable or conduit, which comes with heavy fines associated with the down time. Damage can disrupt neighboring systems causing issues such as internet outages or area flooding. When a buried utility is damaged it’s up to the contractor to fix it- and quickly! These actions can be expensive and time consuming to the contractor.

How GPRS can help

Using a private utility locator is a great way to avoid hitting hidden utilities. Private utility locators such as GPRS are able to locate electric, gas, oil, steam, communications, water, sewer, and storm lines. GPRS Project Managers are skilled at differentiating between buried materials, taking the guesswork out of your excavation.

As our name suggests, GPRS uses ground penetrating radar along with additional equipment to identify the locations and depths of buried utilities. The area is then clearly marked out, enabling you to dig without the fear of hitting something. Detailed maps or plans can be created to preserve this information for future use.

Our Project Managers undergo a rigorous and ongoing education program to ensure they are up to date on the latest ground scanning technology. The extensive training and hands-on experience create a high degree of accuracy and confidence in our testing.

GPRS has offices located throughout the U.S., making it easy for our Project Managers to quickly mobilize to your site. Don’t take the risk of hitting buried utilities- contact your local GPRS office by clicking here.

Don’t take the risk of hitting buried utilities - contact your local GPRS office.

Contact Us Today