Underground Utility Locating: What You Don't Know

There are millions of miles of cables at work so that you can find out who cinches the last NFL Wildcard spot this week. You just can’t see it right away.

All the things we rely on for home and business – heat, a clean shirt, phone and Internet service – every asset vital to the function of every community takes up space underground. Think of it as traffic: highways of water and electricity surging beneath you everywhere you go.

Utility locators are the archaeologists of our livelihood. They paint lines and plant flags to mark your utilities so they don’t get hit. And the industry shows no sign of slowing down. As long as the population grows, so will urban development, which means installing new things and updating old ones.

Accuracy impacts the bottom line. If a water main bursts, you sit in stalled traffic. If the power’s knocked out, it cuts hospital generators and streetlights. If a gas line is punctured by one more scoop, there could be an explosion. Utility locators make a living protecting your way of life. A half-inch is do or die. This is not the job for hastiness. And you “can’t daydream through it.”

Remember how we said utilities are everywhere? Locators deal with weeds, thickets, snakes, bugs, backyard dogs, even dodging cars if a job is along a freeway.

To penetrate these barriers, locators have to use all kinds of tech, kind of like fancy metal detectors (which is why nonmetal pipes are buried with tracer wire). There are green tools available, like those at Baker-Peterson, to protect the location site during these finds. Each site has its own variables – city or rural, soil type, how recently it’s rained, how far from the ground a transmitter’s held, what frequency it’s set to. The geography and politics of utility location are as sprawling as the utilities themselves, so there can be any number of jobs for any amount of time. Hours can be toiled away at apartments with multiple electrical boxes or trailer parks with no street names.

On top of criss-crossing networks, lines might not even be where they’re supposed to be. Utility maps can be outdated and incomplete, so locators sometimes draw spur of the moment sketches for contractors to follow. This is a necessary skill in winter, when snow can cover what marks were made.

With such wide-open possibility, the job demands focus and commitment. Our Baker-Peterson promise is the very best service each and every time – with no surprises. Call Baker-Peterson before you dig; you’ll see a difference. And that’s a promise. Visit baker-peterson.com/or call 855-756-2283.

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