Say you've got a pipe leak, or you're wondering where the cable from your television runs in the ground outside your house. Or maybe you are about to start a big excavation project that requires extensive digging under the ground. Any of these scenarios require some type of underground exploration; in order to locate a utility line, pipe, wire or cable, you're going to need the proper equipment. Usually, counties and municipalities will require that you have a professional come out with a special tracker or detector to locate anything running under your property. Below are a some special words that you may encounter when looking for an underground cable, pipe and wire locating service.
Underground Utility Lines – Most of the services we get in our homes today come from underground lines. In order to avoid disrupting the flow of cable, electric, water, etc. when looking to plant something in your yard, it's important to first have a service company come out and locate where these lines run. Obviously these lines aren't as visible as their above-ground counterparts, so it's crucial that the task is completed by someone who really knows what he's doing.
Pipe and Wire Locator – Can be used by a homeowner to locate metal pipes and wires. Is commonly found online for purchase, but can run a little steep in price.
Circuit Tracer – Used to locate which breaker in the home supplies a certain 120V load, and can also be used to locate ground lines, wires, etc.
In order to serve everyone with proper utility functions like electricity and running water, many companies choose to put their cables underground. When construction needs to occur in any given space, a pipe and wire contractor can be called out to locate existing equipment so they aren't severed by accident and then need repairs. It is also important to know where they lay for system testing purposes.
Cables themselves became a necessity with the invention of the telegraph power distribution system in 1882. While early forms were mostly made of copper, the wires involved have mostly been upgraded to fiber optics and other, more resilient fibers. Pipes were needed underground to help with water drainage issues (i.e. sewers and septic systems) at first, but have since been utilized for gas lines as well. Drain pipes are often accessible through manholes located throughout the city they are placed in.
Underground utility cables and pipes are mostly found in cities where space constrictions make putting anything above ground not an option. Since most cities require regular maintenence and construction, it is necessary to locate existing lines and know open spaces for new line placement. Certain equipment can be bought to detect metal or frequencies in any site before the drill penetrates the earth. Once found, a trench can be excavated to pull or work around existing pieces. It's a safe bet to check with the local laws before boring holes in the ground. There are often city restrictions and a lot of red tape before work can begin. Failure to comply can cause costly fines.