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Underground Utility Locating/Concrete Structure Scanning Specialists

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"5 Assumptions" Series - Assumption # 4

Assumption # 4:  Assuming Underground Utilities Are Abandoned


There are four reasons to worry if you are making this assumption!

 1.  Abandoned utilities does not mean inactive utilities. How do you really know a gas service or a water pipe or an electric wire isn’t still live and therefore potentially dangerous just because it’s been abandoned?  

The answer is, you don’t know.  Cables_with_Edits.jpg

2.  How do you know that the pipe or cable just exposed by the excavator but was unknown to you, has been abandoned or not? You know it’s not shown on any drawing so it must be - right ? 

There is no safe way to know if a utility is no longer in use or abandoned, unless specific utility company documentation is available - and even that’s not to be guaranteed.   

3.  Don’t assume you can identify an abandoned utility just by looking at it. 

Most pipes look old and corroded after they’ve been in the ground a number of years but will still be active. If the soil is particularly corrosive, pipes can look old in a very short period of time.

There are even old wood (yes, wood) water pipes in the ground in some states. Who would think such antiquities could still be in use but they are - or are they? You can’t tell by looking at them; wood is wood after all.  


4.  Can you really assume that someone telling you a line has been abandoned is accurate information to be relied on? You can’t and you should never make an assumption that may well be false. 


If you’ve ever looked inside an electrical or communications manhole and seen a bunch of wires going every which - way, you will know that it’s impossible to tell if they’re actually in service or not!



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