What is a Utility Locator and Why They’re Important in Building a Fence

If you are planning on building your own fence, there is one professional opinion that you cannot go without. A utility locator is indispensable in the clearing and preparation processes of digging safely in your yard. Without this expert opinion, you may find main lines while digging which leads to costly repairs and severe repercussions for your family or even your neighborhood.

A utility locator’s job is, first and foremost, to locate underground pipes and wires that lie within the area where you will be digging your fence. This includes gas main, sewer, freshwater, and power cables that cross your property. They are crucial to determining where those important main lines and conduits will be situated. A utility locator will find these essential lines and mark them clearly in your yard so that you can avoid a misstep and breaking or damaging government or commercial property.

It is highly recommended that you call the utility locator first before deciding where to put your fence. If a main natural gas line runs directly where you have decided to place your fence, you need to know firsthand. If you have already drawn measurements, purchased materials, and began cutting your wood or posts, finding that you must change your planning completely would be costly and discouraging to your project.

Utility locators, whether employed by state government or under contract, are educated professionals. They must have map and topography knowledge of the surrounding area. They work with gas and utility companies and use sophisticated equipment to pinpoint trouble areas in digging. With written instructions from utility companies, these professionals must also possess strong basic math and blueprint reading skills to make sure this information is interpreted correctly. Quite often, a locator will work with you and describe the process and many times they will demonstrate a correct location by carefully digging to expose a line they have discovered.

These utility locators are also experienced. Unless you have training and years at a job, you cannot expect to find anything on your property in the same fashion. Ask a locator to tell you about their experience, they will have training, mentoring, education and fieldwork to back up their findings. They will probably also have some stories about when their services weren’t used and the sometimes disastrous results.

If you’ve ever heard about gas and water mean breaks, you know of the devastating results. Not only is it illegal in many states to dig without checking for main lines and conduits, you could damage your property and cause issues for the neighborhood. Digging near gas and power lines can cause power outages and thousands of dollars in repairs and fees, especially if you haven’t called a locator before digging. Constructing near water and sewer lines can burst the pipes and cause raw sewage to seep and severe flooding. A utility locator’s job is anything but simple and their experience will help to prevent these unfortunate results.

You want the fence and you want it done right, so remember to call the utility locator in your first stage of planning or confirm that your fence builder has called and rest assured you’re constructing in the correct way.