What is Utility Locating?
Utility locating is necessary when planning underground excavation of any type. Electromagnetic locators are used for this process, when the Utility Locator uses a transmitter and a receiver to place a signal on the underground utility needing to be found. This is the process of identifying and labeling public and private utilities that are underground.
Direct connection to the underground utility is a preferred method, due to it is the most accurate method of locating, but other methods can be used to find any difficult utility. With direct connect method the transmitter is connected to the underground utility by alligator clip and separated grounding, which places signal to the transmitter which in turn connects signal to the receiver.
Induction locating can also be used when no connection can be made to the underground utility. The transmitter is placed on or close to the known utility which creates a signal on the underground utility for finding. (This can only be done on a traceable utility)
Piping with nothing inside or no conductive locating ability can be found with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), which is not always successful depending on ground soil area.
These utilities may include lines for Telecommunication, natural and propane gas, fiber optic cables, traffic and street lights, storm drains, waste water pipes, water pipes and much more.
Magnetic Locators will ONLY locate metal objects that are made of ferrous material. Basically speaking, if a magnet will stick to it, a Magnetic Locator will detect it. Please understand that how deep in the ground you can detect something depends on its mass. A surveying nail you can find up to about 2, maybe 3 feet. An underground storage tank you can find up to about 15 to 17 feet deep.
Magnetic Locators will not detect objects such as electrical power cable made of aluminum or copper, since these materials are not considered ferrous. Items that are found using Magnetic Locators are usually cast iron pipes, property corner markers, steel enclosures or hardware, hazmat drums, manhole covers, marker magnets, septic tanks, unexploded ordnance, valve boxes, weapons, and well casings.
Pipe and Cable Locators
With Pipe/Cable Locators, they do NOT detect metal objects like a magnetic locator does. A Pipe/Cable Locator will ONLY locate objects that have some type of charge or signal placed on them. Many utilities give off or transmit a signal of their own that is sometimes detected by a Pipe/Cable Locator such a 60Hz for live for power lines. But, sometimes the person doing the locating must induce a signal onto the line in order to be able to locate it.
Most Pipe/Cable Locators have the ability to induce a signal onto an object (like a waterline) using a Transmitter and the object must be metallic in order to conduct the signal. Pipe/Cable Locators typically come with a receiver and a transmitter but not always. It depends on the model you purchase. Some models come with a portable pocket-sized transmitter with limited features, and some come with standard transmitters that are built into a hard case and offer more features for varied situations.
To simply describe how a Pipe/Cable Locator works, the transmitter is just like a radio station that’s putting out a signal, and to pick up the radio station you want to listen to (for example your favorite rock music station) you need a receiver. Just like radio stations, the transmitters transmit signals in certain frequencies. Some Pipe/Cable Locators come from the factory with multiple signals to choose from, and some come from the factory with a single frequency that you decide and select before the purchase. To induce a signal onto a pipe or cable, the Transmitter along with Signal Clamps or Alligator Clips that you place or fasten around on onto pipe, fire hydrants, cables, and other utilities or lines that you’re wanting to locate. When accessibility to the utility’s end-points (above ground) not known, the transmitter can also induce a signal from above, through the ground to reach the utility.
This method is trying and difficult and time consuming. This allows the Transmitter to send its signal onto the pipe or cable you need to locate. Some Pipe/Cable Locator models come with the accessories like Signal Clamps and Alligator Clamps or Inductive Antennas, and sometimes you have to purchase the accessories separately. Items that are found using Pipe/Cable Locators are usually cable TV lines, fiber optic lines with a metallic conductor alongside, irrigation lines, plastic pipe or conduit (plastic pipe can be located by inserting a sonde or mini-transmitter and locating the sonde), plastic pipe tracer wire, power lines, street light power, and water lines. Note: Sonde method does not always work.
Now hopefully you have a better understanding of how a Magnetic Locator and Pipe-Cable Locator works in the field by the user.
What is Vacuum Excavation?
A suction excavator or vacuum excavator is a construction vehicle that removes materials from a hole on land, or removes heavy debris on land. Vacuum excavating is used for safe digging trenches as well as the verification of buried utility lines.
This method is used for safe exposure of underground utilities or excavation used without digging with a shovel or excavator. High pressure air is applied from use of an air knife to break up the soil after the removal of top surface of grass, paved blacktop or concrete is removed. Once the top surface is removed the vacuum hose is used to pull up the soil or rock that has been loosened to place in a tank unit. This soil can be placed back into the vacuumed hole after measurements and information is gathered.
Vacuum Excavation using air is a cost effective method and W Locco, LLC uses air instead of a standard water pressure due to this places no harm to the underground pipe or directly buried utility that is in question.
Vacuum Excavation is a proven best practice to manage risks.
Underground Utility Excavation
W Locco, LLC has installed underground distribution lines for communication, electric, gas, private water and sewer lines for residential and commercial properties. In addition, we have worked on many power plants, energized substations and on retrofitting energized tower foundations.
We can place up to 4” pipeline or cables, using plow or trench unit up to 30” depth.
Trenching allows us to place multiple pipelines or cables in the ground at one time. In addition, we can place pull string for easy pulling of the utility after the pipeline is placed and to verify it is traceable during the utility layout process.
Plowing allows us to place smaller pipes or cables under the ground surface which has minimal cleanup after installation.
Placement of underground Vaults, hand holes and hubs are our specialty. These underground enclosures are used for the safety of the end of a pipeline or cable and used for quick access to the cable or pipeline in a secured area. It also allows cable to be pulled through these sections of conduit that were placed from vault to vault or hand hole.
Each of our jobsites is restored to their original condition once construction activities are completed.
What is Missile Boring?
Missile boring is a method that is preferred due to the control of the unit. It is also known as horizontal boring, pneumatic boring, or impact boring. Missile boring is considered an invaluable trenchless technology solution in numerous applications and installations of all utilities. When our clients need us to get under driveways, roads and sidewalks or any other solid surface, this is a cost effective solution.
We can bore from 2” to 5” whole for installation of pipelines or cables with depth up to 6’ for roadways.
Even in cases where there are no clear obstruction, missile boring can save both time and money compared to the alternatives. We always suggest to our clients to go this route due to the cost effective advantage this method provides. Costly repairs to roadways and driveways for removal and repair can be avoided by utilizing this Missile Boring trenchless technology.
Missile boring often is overlooked but is often a better alternative to directional drill boring. Typically, the distance of missile boring is limited to approximately 100’ due to the length of the hose which supplies the air to push the unit under the solid obstacle. Our easy solution to this limitation is to perform multiple bores to have the ability to visualize the depth of the installation being completed. Soil condition has a large effect on successful Missile Boring, while most soil allows for bores free of complications, extremely rocky soil can complicate the procedure. Our solution is to move to our Missile to another location approximately 3’ and normally that will correct the issue and allow the boring unit to be successful.
Survey of the underground utility markings placed for your specific project can be accurately placed on a base map provided by the hiring company or placed on a cad file for future knowledge of the underground infrastructure. This service normally works in conjunction to the utility locate provided, but can be provided whether we do the locating for you or not. But, we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracy provided by another company. Accuracy can sometimes be approximate and not always exact.
Each client has specific area of importance to each project, so we will work with your superintendent or project manager to find the best solution to your project need. This service is very useful for the need of future investigation of utilities or future tie-in needed for future utility installation.
Not all utilities are the responsibility of the public utility companies. Private utilities include, but are not limited to, lawn sprinkler systems, invisible fences, electricity for sheds or driveway lighting, sign lighting, gas lamps or gas grills, well or septic systems, and privately placed drain lines. Don’t forget that any utility past the demarcation point, which is past your electric meter or location of connection.
Most customers don’t understand that sewer not marked past the clean out which is the hook up point for the plumber or private contractor gained connection to run to the building or house is private and this includes your water service past the water meter location. These utilities most likely were installed by a private contractor and the Utility Companies do not except responsibility for these utilities.
A homeowner or contractor should never undertake an excavation project without knowing what is underground. Hitting a line marked or unmarked can lead to unnecessary repairs and even life or death situations.
We provide Private Utility locating for the reason of safety, and due to our adverse flexibility to supply this service, we can respond in most emergency situations of just not knowing you had a private utility present on the project property.
Contract locating is when a utility owner and contract locating company has decided to work as a team to provide a service to the community and have a written contract for the responsibility to mark underground facilities for a specific utility company.
If you are going to dig or excavate, by law, you must call the Miss Utility notification center by dialing “811” prior to digging. Each state has different laws and regulations, but by dialing the easy “811” it will directly link you to your local one call center for ticket notification and or information.
After you have called in your ticket it is now the responsibility of the company or contractual locating company to place markings on the ground for the specific utility; they are responsible for using the national APWA Uniform color code, which specifies the utility they are marking.
A person may begin excavation or demolition only after the person receives positive response from the notification center confirming that all applicable owner members have marked their underground facilities.
W Locco, LLC is the smallest locating company on the eastern shore but holds the largest amount of contracts. We specialize in remaining small to provide our clients with hands on approach.
Pipeline construction is the placement of one or multiple pipes in one ditch line or multiple ditch lines. A large project typically is broken into manageable lengths called “spreads”, and utilizes highly specialized and qualified workers. Various crews are responsible for a spread with its own responsibilities depending on the section of work being performed.
Topsoil is removed for easier cleanup at the end of the project and restoration purpose. Once the topsoil is removed the trenching or vacuum excavation is started to open the earth for the placement of the pipeline. Depending on the customer needs the pipeline is laid in the trench line to the specific depth required per the utility being pulled through the pipeline placed. We currently can place as many pipes needed for your specific project with the placement of pull boxes if required or needed for easy access.
W Locco, LLC can place up to 4” pipe and up to 30” in depth.
Before each project begins “811” is called for the utility mark-out to receive a layout of any existing utilities for the protection of the community.