Should I Call a Private Utility Locator?

utility locating
October 12, 2023

You’ve likely stumbled upon spray-painted marks or colorful flags often appearing in your neighborhood before construction. What you may not know is that these play a crucial role in preventing utility damage. These indications, better known as utility locates, shed light on the location of underground utilities, benefiting both residential and commercial clients along with professionals like contractors and engineers.

So, what are private utility locates?

Private utility locates are vital to any construction or excavation project. These locates identify the positioning of underground utilities such as water, gas, and telecommunication lines. Missteps in handling these hidden elements can lead to catastrophic consequences like service interruptions, serious injuries, costly repairs, or even legal liabilities. 

You might think, “Oh, but I can just get that information for free from 811, right?”

Not always.

Why Relying Solely on 811 Info is Risky

It’s important to know that not all utility lines are public. The 811 “call before you dig” service only covers public utilities up to the metering points.

While it’s an essential first step, it’s not complete. Services beyond the meter are considered private utilities and are the property owner’s responsibility.

These could look like:

  • electrical lines to outdoor lighting
  • water lines to sprinkler systems
  • gas lines to barbecue pits
  • electric lines that power outdoor lighting or security systems
  • data communication lines for home networking systems
  • water lines for landscaping and irrigation purposes
  • sewage pipes that connect to septic tanks

In commercial settings, private utility locates would also cover documenting the location of both the main and individual junctions of HVAC systems, fire suppression systems, and industrial machinery power supplies

Calling a private utility locator bridges this informational gap. They employ ground penetrating radar and electromagnetic locators to accurately map out your private utilities, creating a full picture of the underground situation. This provides a critical safety measure while also meeting legal and insurance requirements. 

The Implications of Skipping a Private Utility Locate

Sometimes, it might feel tempting to cut corners or hurry through the planning phase. Skipping a private utility locate may appear to save time and money at the onset, but the potential fallout is far from worth it.

According to the Infrastructure Protection Coalition’s 2021 Report, an estimated $61 billion dollars was lost due to a failure to protect underground utilities.

The consequences range from simple service cuts to severe system damages, personal injuries, ballooning repair costs, or even fines for damage to public utilities, not to mention the time you’ll lose recovering and repairing any damages.

And in worst-case scenarios, skipping this vital step may lead to serious legal and regulatory consequences. Violation of regulations may result in hefty fines or even lawsuits stemming from property damage or personal injury. Depending on your state, this can set you back upwards of $40,000!

Collaborate with Private Utility Locators for a Stress-Free Project

The best way to avoid unnecessary fines, accidents, or delays is to partner with a private utility locator that uses the latest technology to provide accurate results.

Our private locates service helps you dig smarter, producing digital GPS-powered maps for precise coordinate locating to use for years to come.

So before you take that shovel to the ground or greenlight that big project, call UtiliSource for a private utility locate.

It’s more than just an item to tick off your to-do list; it’s a safeguard for your project, your client’s property, and most importantly, your peace of mind. 

Related Articles