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It's a Jungle out there. Underground Utility Detection & Inspection Services

Common Misconceptions About Utility Locates

A network of vital subterranean utilities that supply us with gas, water, power, communications, and other necessities is located beneath the surface of our everyday existence. In this article, we will expose eight common myths regarding subterranean utilities, illuminating the reality below the surface.

Underground Utilities Are Always Buried Deep

Myth 1: Underground Utilities Are Always Buried Deep


The idea that every utility is buried deep beneath the surface is among the most common misconceptions about subsurface utilities. Certain utilities, like electrical and communications, may be shockingly near the surface. In contrast, others, like sewer lines, are buried deeper for safety and upkeep. It is essential to comprehend the different depths of these utilities to conduct safe excavation procedures and avoid unintentional damage.

It is important to consider the various factors that affect utility line depths to understand these misconceptions fully. For example, electrical, communications, gas, and water lines are frequently buried between 24-36 inches (sometime shallower or deeper) whereas sewer is typically deeper than 4 feet (sewer can be shallower in some scenarios). The depth of subterranean utilities is also influenced by climate and local restrictions.

Examining the depths of these utilities emphasizes the need for a nuanced understanding of the different natures of subterranean utilities to help develop safer excavation techniques.

Myth 2: All Underground Utilities Are Mapped


Another widespread misunderstanding centers on the idea that every subterranean utility is well-mapped and easy to obtain. Existing maps must be updated and trustworthy because utility lines might move over time due to various circumstances, including natural forces or construction activity.

It is crucial to rely on expert utility locating services to overcome this misconception. Utility detection and inspection services give precise information on the location and depth of subterranean utilities by utilizing cutting-edge technology and procedures. Construction projects can move forward confidently since utility locates reduce the possibility of unintentional utility damage.

Myth 3: Hitting a Utility Line Only Causes Minor Issues


Believing that striking a utility line during excavation will only cause minor inconveniences is a potentially dangerous misunderstanding. The truth is significantly worse; the repercussions might be anything from life-threatening situations to service interruptions. Promoting a safety culture in excavation operations requires an understanding of the potential dangers of striking a utility.

Imagine that you are digging and you run into a gas line. The potential gas leak seriously threatens the community and employees. Similarly, breaking electrical cables can cause blackouts and put people at risk of electrocution.

We draw attention to the significance of safety procedures, meticulous utility locates, and the application of appropriate excavation techniques by emphasizing these dangers. The main objective is raising awareness of the possible repercussions of damaging utility lines and encouraging a proactive attitude to avert such events.

Myth 4: Private Property Isn’t Affected by Utility Locates


A prevalent misunderstanding that can result in notable omissions is that utility locates are exclusively required for public areas and do not apply to private land. In actuality, utility wires frequently cross into private property; failing to look for them may result in expensive damages and possible safety risks.

It’s critical to understand that utility lines—like power or water lines—may pass through private land before joining the larger network. Building or excavating might cause unintentional damage if these lines are not recognized and marked.

Comprehensive utility locates should be carried out regardless of property ownership to dispel this myth. To protect the safety of the property and its people, construction projects on private land need to carefully review utility maps and hire a utility locating company to reduce risks. 

Myth 5: Utility Locates Are Only Necessary for Large Excavations


Some people make the mistake of thinking utility locates are only important in large-scale excavation operations. However, utility lines must be properly recognized and marked; even small-scale installations may provide dangers and possible hazards.

Take the instance of planting a tree in the backyard of a house. Even though the project might be manageable, it is important to recognize the existence of subsurface utilities like electricity, water, communications, gas, etc. These lines are susceptible to accidental damage that could cause safety risks, expensive repairs, and service interruptions.

Emphasizing the significance of utility locates for every size excavation project highlights the necessity of a uniform safety protocol. Contractors, homeowners, and construction experts need to understand that thorough utility locates are a basic procedure that enhances safety and the integrity of the infrastructure.

Myth 6: Calling 811 Is Sufficient for All Utility Locating Needs


There is a widespread misunderstanding that contacting 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” hotline, is sufficient for all utility locating needs, even though it is an essential step in the pre-excavation process. For thorough and precise results, nevertheless, expert private utility locating services could be required because of the limits of the 811 system.

The 811 system offers information on public utilities and their location. However, this data does not cover private utilities. Private utilities account for over 50% of utilities in most areas. 

Private locate companies like CNI Locates utilize cutting-edge technologies to accurately locate and map private and public utility lines, including electromagnetic detection, ground-penetrating radar, and more.

Construction projects can go forward with a more thorough awareness of the subterranean environment by integrating the data from 811 with the knowledge of qualified private utility locators, reducing the danger of unintentional utility damage.

Myth 7: All Utility Locating Equipment Is Equal in Accuracy


Utility-finding devices are not made equally. No matter how advanced or capable, there’s a fallacy that any instrument can deliver precise findings. In actuality, different technologies provide differing degrees of precision, and the utility locate accuracy can be greatly impacted by the equipment selection.

Investigating the various technologies is necessary to comprehend the subtleties of utility locating equipment. For example, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is useful for locating non-metallic utilities since it uses radar pulses to find objects underground. Conversely, metallic utilities such as pipelines and wires can be found using electromagnetic locators.

When one considers the repercussions of faulty utility locates, the need to utilize sophisticated and precise equipment becomes apparent. Unintentional damage to utility lines resulting from inaccurate equipment can lead to expensive repairs, interruptions in service, and possible safety risks.

It’s critical to depend on utility locating services that use a combination of technologies customized to the unique needs of each project to ensure dependable results. This method improves utility locate accuracy and adds to excavation operations’ general efficacy and security.

Myth 8: Utility Locating Services Are Too Expensive for Small Projects


There is a common misperception that utility locating services are unaffordable, particularly for small installations. Nonetheless, the expenses incurred by disregarding utility locates, encompassing harm, service interruptions, and safety hazards, may far surpass the sum paid for expert assistance.

One must consider the long-term cost effects of unintentional utility damage to dispel this myth. Appropriate utility locates might have prevented significant expenses associated with fixing broken utility lines, handling service interruptions, and handling safety risks.

It is imperative to acknowledge the significance of utility locating services for projects regardless of scale to foster a proactive safety and risk management approach. Professional utility locators offer precision and knowledge that can be beneficial even for simple excavation operations, like planting a garden or erecting a fence.

Finding affordable solutions for small-scale projects requires considering the possible savings from precise utility locates. Working with nearby utility locating businesses may also be necessary to customize services to smaller projects’ unique requirements and financial limitations.

Private Utility Locating Services


Private utility locating services must be accurate and comprehensive for subterranean utility locating. These services go above and beyond the call of duty, utilizing cutting-edge technologies and knowledgeable staff to deliver precise information regarding the location and depth of subterranean utilities.

The distinction between public and private utility lines highlights the significance of private utility locating services. Although the 811 system normally covers public utilities, private utilities—such as those that serve private projects or commercial properties—might not be covered. This gap is filled by private utility finding services, which provide thorough location data for all utility kinds.

Knowing the advantages of private utility finding services is crucial when thinking about them. Due to their familiarity with the local environment and adeptness in navigating the regulatory framework, these services frequently provide shorter response times. Furthermore, their proficiency with cutting edge technology ensures better precision in utility locates.

The benefits of private utility locating services are increased when local private utility locating businesses are selected. Local businesses can offer customized solutions that address the area’s unique issues because they are well aware of the regional quirks.

Lowering the possibility of unintentional utility damage and encouraging a culture of safety and accountability in construction methods, including private utility locating services in excavation projects, provides additional confidence.

Finding Private Locate Companies Near Me or Private Utility Locating Companies Near Me


Looking for local private locate companies is simple and entails using directories and internet resources. With these steps, you can identify private utility locators in your area, which provides a handy place to start for any project requirements.

1.Internet directories: Look through online directories to find local private utility locating firms. These directories frequently include contact details, services rendered, and client testimonials to assist you in making wise choices.

2.Local Businesses: Consult with contractors and businesses in your area who know private utility locating services. Word-of-mouth referrals are a great way to find trustworthy businesses with a history of providing accurate and dependable private utility locating services.

3.Community Resources: For information on trustworthy private utility finding firms, check with your local community resources, such as construction associations or municipal offices. These groups can provide information about businesses that are well-liked in the neighborhood.

4.Internet Reviews: To evaluate the dependability and degree of satisfaction of various private utility locating services, look through online reviews and testimonies from prior customers. Reviews can offer insightful information about the accuracy, professionalism, and general business service quality.

5.Making Direct Contacts: Contact private utility locating businesses directly. Knowing their experience, offerings, and turnaround times will enable you to determine if they are a good fit for your project. Furthermore, discussing your unique wants allows the business to customize its services to fit your needs.

Consider the technologies that private utility locating firms use, how long they have been in business, and how quickly they respond to customer questions when assessing them. Selecting a business with a track record of success and a dedication to accuracy will guarantee that your excavation project is carried out as precisely and safely as possible.



In conclusion, safe and effective excavation efforts depend on knowing the facts regarding subterranean utilities. By dispelling myths and highlighting the value of expert utility locating services, we can ensure that our projects move forward without incident while putting safety first.

Recall that the secret to a dependable and safe infrastructure is to reveal the reality hidden beneath the surface. Let’s adopt a culture of awareness, accountability, and cooperation as we continue negotiating building and development challenges, ensuring that the unseen networks under our feet receive the consideration and attention to detail they require.

C-N-I Locates Ltd Washington State Field Offices and Contact Information

For any inquiries, feel free to reach out to us at (253) 826-1177, drop us an email at [email protected], or conveniently schedule a work request/estimate directly on our website. To provide a seamless experience, we require just 24 hours’ notice, Monday through Friday, to schedule an appointment for the following business day. Your convenience and prompt service are our top priorities.


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