About Utility Locating

Underneath today’s city streets exists a labyrinth of underground water, sewer, gas, electric and telecommunication lines.  As urban populations increase, 50% of a predicted 7-9 billion people were expected to be large town or city dwellers by the year 2012, so the quantity and complexity of underground utilities rises to meet the demand for potable water, telecommunications, energy and sewerage services.  The location of such underground utilities has, historically, been based on utility record information maintained by the utility companies.  Unfortunately, this information, if it exists, is often inaccurate, incomplete or out of date making it sometimes difficult for a utility locator to accurately mark out these utilities.  Furthermore, such information very often locates the utility line in only two dimensions, usually in the form of a line on a map.

The third dimension, depth, is critically important for the construction of accurate three-dimensional plans of all buried utilities – a prerequisite for the installation of utility networks by modern trenchless techniques.  Various non-destructive detection techniques exist for pipeline location.  However, compounding the location problem for the utility locator is the fact that the conduits for utilities range from metallic materials, such as steel and cast iron, through traditional materials such as clay and concrete, to synthetic materials such as polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride.

ATLANTIC LEAK DETECTION & PRIVATE UTILITY LOCATING in New Jersey provides private underground utility line locating services prior to excavation.  Our clientele-base consists of: Surveyors, Architects/Engineers, General Contractors, Solar Energy Providers, Government Departments, School Districts, Private-facility owners and Residential Property-owners who find it a vital concern in knowing the locations of their underground-infrastructures.  Damage prevention to the utilities, as well as, the safety to the community is the foremost concern prior to excavation. Prior knowledge of the underground utilities, marked out by a private utility locator is also an important and cost-effective way in assuring a safe and successful out-come of your project.

ATLANTIC LEAK DETECTION & PRIVATE UTILITY LOCATING in New Jersey uses the most advanced and state-of-the-art EM Locating Instruments and Techniques in a comprehensive search for underground utility lines.  Our Certified Private Utility Locators apply the “best effort” approach, utilizing their ability and knowledge to the up-most standards of “competence” in identifying each utility-line being mapped on the surface of the ground.

The Electromagnetic (EM) locating equipment we use to locate metallic pipes and or cables provides us with a range of frequencies necessary in a survey. Having the choice of frequencies at-hand, gives the Private Utility Locator the ability to adjust to the un-foreseen soil conditions as well as pipe/cable conditions which can be encountered unexpectedly on the job-site.  Measure of accuracy is 93% to 97% allowing a “hand-dig” tolerance of 24” on either-side of the utility-line.  Depth-readings are limited up to 13-feet. The depth-readings maybe provided upon request

Electric cables must be energized (have power flowing through them) to be detected magnetically by the utility locator. Indirect mode allows for the detection of the magnetic fields generated by the electrical power cable. Direct mode allows for a similar effect to be induced into metallic pipes that would not normally create their own magnetic fields.  This is done by the utility locator attaching a clamp (connected to a low-voltage power source) to the pipe or cable (target line) and inducing an electrical current. This transmits a strong signal directly to the target line, allowing the utility locator to trace it at a greater depth and for a longer distance.

If the target line is not accessible for attaching a clamp, place the transmitter over the target line and activate it.  This is broadcast induction mode.  Then use the receiver in the same manner to trace the signal emitted from the target line, regardless of the transmitter mode used.

Most detectors for utility locating provide an audio signal to the operator that indicates the detector is over a buried utility.  As you walk along without encountering any iron or steel items, the receiver’s two magnetic-field sensors will balance out the Earth’s magnetic field and the frequency of the audible indication will remain at a low level (approximately 40 Hz).  However, as you approach a buried vertical piece of iron pipe, for example, the frequency of the audio indication will begin to increase as the strength of the magnetic field becomes stronger at one of the sensors. When the tip of the receiver is directly over the pipe, the strength of the magnetic field at the first sensor is maximized, which causes the frequency of the audio signal to peak. After you’ve outlined the target area, reduce the sensitivity level and slowly move the receiver back and forth in an X pattern over the area. Very quickly the well-defined peak of the audio signal will pinpoint the target.

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