With a majority of utility companies laying their pipes and cables underground, it becomes increasingly essential to have an accurate means of finding them. Yet, with so many different types of lines running beneath the surface of towns and cities, how is this possible to accomplish without making errors. While human error continues to remain a factor, the technological advances of an underground pipe locator help to reduce mistakes.
What Are Underground Pipe Locators?
Often called utility locators, metal detectors or even yellow sticks, such devices produce and transmit a signal into the utility line. A receiver then detects the location of the pipe or other lines. The signal involved in the location project is characterized as one of two basic types conductive and inductive.
The market today offers several different types of underground pipe and cable locators. Two major types exist. These are:
- Electromagnetic: The most common means through which a company can locate pipes and other lines. As the name indicates, the process involves using generating an electromagnetic radio frequency. It detects the presence underground of conductive material. However, it is only feasible to use with metal. It cannot detect unmarked plastic, non-ductile pipes, concrete or terra cotta pipes. The method is also not effective if, for some reason, the pipes lie more than 10 to 15 feet subsurface.
- Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR): Like electromagnetic radio frequency, GPR uses high-frequency pulses. In cases where electromagnetic devices are not effective, companies may employ this type of underground pipe locator.
Underground Pipe Locator
Since its origins some 40 years ago, the technology of locating utilities using an underground pipe locator continues to advance. Improvements increase the need for companies to hire experienced and knowledgeable technicians to operate the latest devices. By doing so, utility companies can reduce the risk of accidents disrupting service.