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How To Locate Underground Utilities – The Utility Survey Corp. Way


The 3 Most Common Misconceptions About Utility Locating Methods

There are right ways and wrong ways to locate underground utilities. While Utility Survey Corp. takes a comprehensive approach to utility locating, not all companies do. We have identified 3 major and common misconceptions about utility locating methodology that can potentially cause the client serious problems:

1. There isn’t a one-fits-all locating instrument: It is a matter of fact that there is no one locating instrument that will find all utilities all of the time.

Great minds have been a work for many years trying to come up with a universal all-encompassing utility locating instrument. No such technology exists however, and it probably never will.

We don’t even adhere to one particular brand of instrument either. Our vehicles carry several different types of locating instrument made by more than one manufacturer. They all work on different operating frequencies and will perform differently in the variety of job-site conditions we encounter every day.

That’s why a professional utility locating survey should always be carried out with a combination of locating instruments in a methodical procedure that conforms to Utility Survey Corp.’s 10-Step Utility Locating Protocol™.

It’s an approach we have developed and refined over many years and thousands of projects to maximize the utility information gathering process while minimizing the potential for error.

2. You can’t just quickly “scope it out”: Time is money. We understand that – to a degree. But, locating utilities is a job that cannot and must not be rushed.

You can’t just give the client a quick scope out. Anyone who gives you this is doing you a grave disservice. There’s too much at stake if a utility goes undetected and then someone comes along with an excavator and hits it. We think you will agree that this is not a desirable outcome is it?

Utility locating requires a strict, methodical, approach that utilizes all available technologies, experienced and skilled technicians, and a rigidly applied locating protocol.

Our 10-Step Utility Locating Protocol™ gives our clients all of this – but it cannot and should not ever be done in a hurry.

3. You can’t just do a “radar survey”: Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is the most advanced piece of equipment for locating utilities but it cannot locate everything on every job site all of the time.

It’s a very common misconception that only GPR is needed to perform a utility locating survey. In fact, it’s very disturbing to all too frequently see a “Ground Penetrating Radar Survey” specified in bids and scopes of work as the only line item – and required methodology.

These specifications are obviously written by people who are revealing their lack of knowledge about how a utility locating survey should be carried out. It also shows their lack understanding of the potential risks they are creating. And, I think you would agree that this not an acceptable practice is it?

It is setting the client up for potential trouble if GPR alone, or any one other single instrument for that matter is insisted upon. Ground Penetrating Radar is a technology we use in our proprietary 10-Step Utility Locating Protocol™. But, it’s not the only technology – and it never should be.

If you want to know the five most common mistakes that clients make when it comes to the locating of underground utilities, then Click here to read our report.


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5 Assumptions Report
“5 Assumptions That Can Kill Your Projects,  Profits and People.“