Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Underground Utility Locating

Here is a list of the most common questions you may have about our underground utility locating processes and procedures. Feel free to ask a question or request a free consultation if you need more information or have additional questions!

Have a question that wasn’t answered here? We’re happy to help! Simply ask below and we’ll answer you as fast as possible. Need an answer now? Call us at (888) 232-5959 for the fastest result!

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What is the APWA uniform color code?

The APWA (American Public Works Association) Uniform Color Code is a national code that standardizes the colors used to identify underground utilities. Almost all companies that locate underground utilities will utilize this standard.

APWA Color Code

What is an unknown (UNK) utility?

An unknown utility, commonly labeled as “UNK,” is any subsurface object that we detect that cannot be positively identified. We know the object exists but we cannot determine if it is water, electric, gas etc.

We can identify a utility that we have marked out by tracing it to a known surface feature such as a valve, transformer, or manhole, etc.  Utilities that we detect that do not pass through a surface feature are labeled as unknown.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept all major credit cards, personal & company checks, and bank transfer.

What type of properties do you work on?

With almost 15 years of experience, it’s Utility Locator, LLC has done it all.  We are able to service residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and other types of private campuses.

Some examples would include private residences, college and university campuses, manufacturing plants, commercial and retail spaces, ports, railyards, and airports.  Our experienced technicians have even provided Utility Locating Services to some of the areas top nuclear facilities.

Aren’t all utility locating services free?

Every state in the United States of America operates a call before you dig program every state in the United States of America operates a call before you dig program.   Most states have a different name for this program, but it is nationally recognized as Call 811. This is a free program that excavators must use whenever performing an excavation.

When you submit a dig request using this program, Call 811 will notify all of the utility companies that service your region about the proposed work. Those utility companies will then respond by either marking out the facilities that they own, or issuing a response to let you know that they do not have any facilities in conflict. Any utilities that are privately owned by you or another property owner will not be marked out. On average, the common ground alliance estimates that only 68% of all underground utilities at a given dig get marked out.

Utility Locator, LLC bridges that gap by marking out the utilities that do not get marked out by utility companies. Not only do we mark out the utilities that other companies won’t touch, but we will review and audit any pre-existing mark outs to ensure that all utilities have been located fully and are of high quality.

How long will the utility markout last?

On impervious surfaces  such as concrete and asphalt the marks will tend to last about three weeks in a high traffic areas, up to a few months in lower traffic areas.

On pervious surfaces such as grass and dirt, the utility markout will last about 3 to 4 weeks depending on how often the area is mowed.

What is the APWA uniform color code?

The APWA (American Public Works Association) Uniform Color Code is a national code that standardizes the colors used to identify underground utilities. Almost all companies that locate underground utilities will utilize this standard.

APWA Color Code

What will I get when I hire Utility Locator, LLC for utility locating?

Our standard deliverable for electromagnetic and ground penetrating radar projects are:

  •  APWA color-coded field markings
  • Hand drawn color-coded field sketch
  • Site photographs when permissible
  • Daily report regarding the work that was performed and the results that were obtained

Additional deliverables such as formal reports, high resolution electronic bill sketches, and even video documentation are available  for an additional fee when requested.

How long will the utility markout last?

On impervious surfaces  such as concrete and asphalt the marks will tend to last about three weeks in a high traffic areas, up to a few months in lower traffic areas.

On pervious surfaces such as grass and dirt, the utility markout will last about 3 to 4 weeks depending on how often the area is mowed.

How deep can you detect utilities?

In general, utilities can be detected up to around 10-15 feet in depth using electromagnetic scanning. Ground Penetrating Radar will typically see up to 5-7 feet. Different characteristics such as size and material composition of the target utility as well as the soil composition can effect the depth range for locating underground utilities.

What will I get when I hire Utility Locator, LLC for utility locating?

Our standard deliverable for electromagnetic and ground penetrating radar projects are:

  •  APWA color-coded field markings
  • Hand drawn color-coded field sketch
  • Site photographs when permissible
  • Daily report regarding the work that was performed and the results that were obtained

Additional deliverables such as formal reports, high resolution electronic bill sketches, and even video documentation are available  for an additional fee when requested.

Can ground penetrating radar find unmarked grave sites?

Yes! Ground penetrating radar uses the reflection of high frequency radio waves to detect objects buried below the surface.  GPR has the potential to detect any non-native material buried in the ground.

What type of site conditions can ground penetrating radar be used in?

Ground penetrating radar can be used in almost all site conditions with very few limitations. Most GPR units are about the size of a walk behind lawnmower. The GPR survey area will need to be accessible to the technician and the GPR unit. The area must also be relatively dry as the  ground penetrating radar unit cannot be submerged.

Camp ground penetrating radar find underground storage tanks?

Yes! Ground penetrating radar has the ability to detect various objects buried below the surface.

Because ground penetrating radar does not rely on a closed circuit, as electromagnetic scanning does, it has the ability to detect all sorts of metallic and nonmetallic objects underground.  Objects that can be detected include underground storage tanks, lost or buried manholes in vaults,  buried utilities, and even differences in soil materials.

Can ground penetrating radar detect objects under concrete?

The answer to this question can vary depending on the properties of the concrete, however, in general Yes, ground penetrating radar can detect objects  below concrete surfaces. Not only can objects be detected under a concrete surface, but we can utilize  specialized GPR  antennas that are capable of detecting smaller objects embedded with in the concrete itself.  Examples of this may include electrical conduits  and post tension cables.

Factors that limit the effectiveness of  ground penetrating radar to detect buried utilities under concrete services include the material composition of the utility, reinforcement present within the concrete, and the depth of the target utility.

How long will the utility markout last?

On impervious surfaces  such as concrete and asphalt the marks will tend to last about three weeks in a high traffic areas, up to a few months in lower traffic areas.

On pervious surfaces such as grass and dirt, the utility markout will last about 3 to 4 weeks depending on how often the area is mowed.

How deep can you detect utilities?

In general, utilities can be detected up to around 10-15 feet in depth using electromagnetic scanning. Ground Penetrating Radar will typically see up to 5-7 feet. Different characteristics such as size and material composition of the target utility as well as the soil composition can effect the depth range for locating underground utilities.

What will I get when I hire Utility Locator, LLC for utility locating?

Our standard deliverable for electromagnetic and ground penetrating radar projects are:

  •  APWA color-coded field markings
  • Hand drawn color-coded field sketch
  • Site photographs when permissible
  • Daily report regarding the work that was performed and the results that were obtained

Additional deliverables such as formal reports, high resolution electronic bill sketches, and even video documentation are available  for an additional fee when requested.

What types of utilities can be located with electromagnetic scanning?

The types of utilities that can be located using electromagnetic scanning are generally limited to conductive utilities, there are a few exceptions however.

Storm and sanitary sewer lines that are made out of plastic, clay, concrete, and other non-metallic materials can be located using electromagnetic equipment when  The pipe can be accessed through a clean out,  manhole or inlet.

Other plastic pipes such as gas and water can be located when a tracing wire or aluminum caution tape is installed along side or on top of the plastic utility.

Can electromagnetic equipment find all underground utilities?

No. Electromagnetic equipment works by creating a closed circuit between the transmitting device and the target utility to be located. An electromagnetic frequency is applied to the conductor of the utility. If the utility is not conductive, it cannot not be located with electromagnetic methods.

How is utility test hole data delivered?

We will create a test hole data form for each utility test hole that is excavated. We will also create a map showing the locations of each test hole, as well as a matrix sheet to summarize each test hole.

How deep can vacuum excavation dig?

The depth of a utility test hole that is dug with vacuum excavation depends on the type of soil that is being excavated.  In general most test holes can be excavated up to around 12 to 15 feet in depth.

How long will the utility markout last?

On impervious surfaces  such as concrete and asphalt the marks will tend to last about three weeks in a high traffic areas, up to a few months in lower traffic areas.

On pervious surfaces such as grass and dirt, the utility markout will last about 3 to 4 weeks depending on how often the area is mowed.

How long will the utility markout last?

On impervious surfaces  such as concrete and asphalt the marks will tend to last about three weeks in a high traffic areas, up to a few months in lower traffic areas.

On pervious surfaces such as grass and dirt, the utility markout will last about 3 to 4 weeks depending on how often the area is mowed.

How is utility test hole data delivered?

We will create a test hole data form for each utility test hole that is excavated. We will also create a map showing the locations of each test hole, as well as a matrix sheet to summarize each test hole.

How deep can vacuum excavation dig?

The depth of a utility test hole that is dug with vacuum excavation depends on the type of soil that is being excavated.  In general most test holes can be excavated up to around 12 to 15 feet in depth.

What is the APWA uniform color code?

The APWA (American Public Works Association) Uniform Color Code is a national code that standardizes the colors used to identify underground utilities. Almost all companies that locate underground utilities will utilize this standard.

APWA Color Code

What is an unknown (UNK) utility?

An unknown utility, commonly labeled as “UNK,” is any subsurface object that we detect that cannot be positively identified. We know the object exists but we cannot determine if it is water, electric, gas etc.

We can identify a utility that we have marked out by tracing it to a known surface feature such as a valve, transformer, or manhole, etc.  Utilities that we detect that do not pass through a surface feature are labeled as unknown.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept all major credit cards, personal & company checks, and bank transfer.

How deep can you detect utilities?

In general, utilities can be detected up to around 10-15 feet in depth using electromagnetic scanning. Ground Penetrating Radar will typically see up to 5-7 feet. Different characteristics such as size and material composition of the target utility as well as the soil composition can effect the depth range for locating underground utilities.

What will I get when I hire Utility Locator, LLC for utility locating?

Our standard deliverable for electromagnetic and ground penetrating radar projects are:

  •  APWA color-coded field markings
  • Hand drawn color-coded field sketch
  • Site photographs when permissible
  • Daily report regarding the work that was performed and the results that were obtained

Additional deliverables such as formal reports, high resolution electronic bill sketches, and even video documentation are available  for an additional fee when requested.

What type of properties do you work on?

With almost 15 years of experience, it’s Utility Locator, LLC has done it all.  We are able to service residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and other types of private campuses.

Some examples would include private residences, college and university campuses, manufacturing plants, commercial and retail spaces, ports, railyards, and airports.  Our experienced technicians have even provided Utility Locating Services to some of the areas top nuclear facilities.

Aren’t all utility locating services free?

Every state in the United States of America operates a call before you dig program every state in the United States of America operates a call before you dig program.   Most states have a different name for this program, but it is nationally recognized as Call 811. This is a free program that excavators must use whenever performing an excavation.

When you submit a dig request using this program, Call 811 will notify all of the utility companies that service your region about the proposed work. Those utility companies will then respond by either marking out the facilities that they own, or issuing a response to let you know that they do not have any facilities in conflict. Any utilities that are privately owned by you or another property owner will not be marked out. On average, the common ground alliance estimates that only 68% of all underground utilities at a given dig get marked out.

Utility Locator, LLC bridges that gap by marking out the utilities that do not get marked out by utility companies. Not only do we mark out the utilities that other companies won’t touch, but we will review and audit any pre-existing mark outs to ensure that all utilities have been located fully and are of high quality.

What types of utilities can be located with electromagnetic scanning?

The types of utilities that can be located using electromagnetic scanning are generally limited to conductive utilities, there are a few exceptions however.

Storm and sanitary sewer lines that are made out of plastic, clay, concrete, and other non-metallic materials can be located using electromagnetic equipment when  The pipe can be accessed through a clean out,  manhole or inlet.

Other plastic pipes such as gas and water can be located when a tracing wire or aluminum caution tape is installed along side or on top of the plastic utility.

Can ground penetrating radar find unmarked grave sites?

Yes! Ground penetrating radar uses the reflection of high frequency radio waves to detect objects buried below the surface.  GPR has the potential to detect any non-native material buried in the ground.

Can electromagnetic equipment find all underground utilities?

No. Electromagnetic equipment works by creating a closed circuit between the transmitting device and the target utility to be located. An electromagnetic frequency is applied to the conductor of the utility. If the utility is not conductive, it cannot not be located with electromagnetic methods.

What type of site conditions can ground penetrating radar be used in?

Ground penetrating radar can be used in almost all site conditions with very few limitations. Most GPR units are about the size of a walk behind lawnmower. The GPR survey area will need to be accessible to the technician and the GPR unit. The area must also be relatively dry as the  ground penetrating radar unit cannot be submerged.

Camp ground penetrating radar find underground storage tanks?

Yes! Ground penetrating radar has the ability to detect various objects buried below the surface.

Because ground penetrating radar does not rely on a closed circuit, as electromagnetic scanning does, it has the ability to detect all sorts of metallic and nonmetallic objects underground.  Objects that can be detected include underground storage tanks, lost or buried manholes in vaults,  buried utilities, and even differences in soil materials.

Can ground penetrating radar detect objects under concrete?

The answer to this question can vary depending on the properties of the concrete, however, in general Yes, ground penetrating radar can detect objects  below concrete surfaces. Not only can objects be detected under a concrete surface, but we can utilize  specialized GPR  antennas that are capable of detecting smaller objects embedded with in the concrete itself.  Examples of this may include electrical conduits  and post tension cables.

Factors that limit the effectiveness of  ground penetrating radar to detect buried utilities under concrete services include the material composition of the utility, reinforcement present within the concrete, and the depth of the target utility.