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Locate Utility Lines Before Excavation

Locate Utility Lines Before Excavation

In the past many utilities were strung overhead. Cable, electric, and telephone all came through businesses and homes from above.  That’s not the case anymore. Now, everything runs underground, in many directions, and at varying depths. They exist under fields, rivers, roads, parking lots, and the sidewalks on which we walk every day.  A nick or a cut of any of these lines can not only disrupt your service but can be disastrous. That is why the locating utility lines before excavation is so important.

To prevent any service interruptions, and potential disasters, the utility industry has established what is known as the One Call System, a network of utility notification centers. In Toledo and the surrounding areas, that number is 811.  By law, everyone —including homeowners—must contact the Ohio Utilities Protection Service, the Oil and Gas Producers Underground Protection Service, 8-1-1 or 1-800-362-2764, at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) before beginning any digging on their property. You may be the original property owner, but erosion and other forces can cause the lines to shift over time.

Detecting and mapping underground utility lines is no easy task. With many different types of lines waiting under the surface, each with their own manufacturing materials and processes, it is necessary to use multiple locating devices. This could mean electromagnetic equipment for petroleum pipelines or radiolocation for plastic cables. The equipment used for mapping isn’t available to the average customer, that is why it’s important to ensure proper care is taken before any excavation project begins.

Many underground utilities now carry high voltage electricity. Interfering with those if you dig without prior marking, can cause outages to you and any surrounding neighbors. Beyond outages, it can cause injury. As most excavating equipment is metal, or made of metal components, the risk of electrocution is great, and must be avoided at all costs.

Once the mapping has begun, and you see the flags on your property, or the surrounding area, you can tell what has been marked.

The different colors for utilities are:

  • Pink – temporary survey markings
  • Red – electric power lines, cable, conduit and lighting cables
  • Yellow – natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum or gaseous materials
  • Orange – communication, alarm or signal lines, cable or conduit
  • Blue – potable water
  • Purple – reclaimed water, irrigation or slurry lines
  • Green – sewer and drain lines

It’s important that all utilities are identified and mapped correctly and effectively.  Before we conduct any type of excavation on your property, we will ensure that all appropriate marking of utility lines is completed.

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