When are utilities considered private?
Most utilities on public land are owned and maintained by municipalities or cooperatives owned by the customers they serve. Private Utilities are owned and maintained by a private facility or are located on private property with no easement. Often private utilities are not included in public records or as-builts, they typically originate in the facility they serve or are continuations of public utilities onto private property.
How do you mark out underground utilities?
We have several geo-physical techniques utilizing a variety of technologies to accomplish this. Our “go-to” methods utilize radio frequencies that are powered through utility lines via a transmitter and can be picked up by an accompanying receiver. Secondly, we utilize multiple Ground Penetrating Radars that have different frequencies depending on the application.
Can you be certain of the type of utility when locating electronically?
Not always, often the way we definitively identify a utility is by the above ground physical indicators we find in the field such as valves, manholes, or markers.
How do you find untraceable / plastic pipes?
We use our Ground Penetrating Radar to locate hard to find utilities. We can also use a process we call “dig to find” where we use our vacuum excavation truck to dig a series of test holes on an untraceable utility in order to lay out its direction. The number of holes needed to complete this process varies based on the utilities direction and the amount of distance it covers.
What do you do if you can’t find a utility with your electronic equipment?
If we can’t find a utility with our electronic locating equipment or GPR we suggest our non-invasive and safe vacuum excavation test holes in the area where the utility is assumed to be.
What is SoftDig?
SoftDig is our Industry Trademarked process that involves safely excavating utilities via air/vacuum equipment. Safely exposing the utility through this process allows us to gather exact vertical and horizontal data on utilities. Our extensive fleet of vacuum excavation trucks allows us to take on a multitude of projects at any given time.
What geographical areas do you service?
Underground Services, Inc (also known as “SoftDig”) provides service all along the eastern seaboard of the United States, from the Carolinas in the south to Maine in the north and as far west as Michigan. We also provide services in the State of Texas. Click here for our contact information.
Do you provide Ground Penetrating Radar services?
Yes! We have GPR, as well as other geo-physical locating instruments. Click here to find out more information about our Ground Penetrating Radar services.
Do you provide 811 response services?
SoftDig is not an 811 response company. We work closely with 811 in all the states, but we do not work directly for the utility companies. Our specialty is Subsurface Utility Engineering, Utility Locating and Vacuum Excavation.
Do you provide any other services?
Yes. In addition to utility mark outs and vacuum excavation we provide survey and mapping (GPS/GIS/MicroStation/AutoCAD) of underground utilities, video pipe inspections and concrete slab inspections.
What kind of safety training do you have?
Our field technicians are certified in a wide variety of programs such as OSHA (40 & 10), flagger traffic control, first aid, defensive driving and railroad safety (Amtrak/CSX/FRA). In addition, many of our staff have clearances for sensitive industrial facilities, military installations, and other government facilities. View our safety page.
Do you accept credit cards for payment?
Yes – we accept Visa and Mastercard. There is a 3.5% surcharge for credit card payments. We typically send an invoice upon job completion and can accept payment by check or electronic transfer.
What kind of output options/ finished products do you provide?
All of our projects come with documentation in the form of field sketches and test hole reports. We also can provide CAD drawings and GIS prints if requested during job setup. We also use paint and flagging to mark in the field
What industries do you serve?
We will service any industry. Our clientele consist of a variety of industries such as engineering, construction, environmental, industrial, educational, military and government, thus providing us extensive experience on any project type. View our projects here.
Do you have other uses for vacuum equipment besides utility locating?
Yes – we can clear bore hole locations (Air/Knifing) for geo-technical drilling equipment and we can provide trenching capabilities for most needs.
How do you determine where to dig test holes?
We typically lay out all the utilities in your project area and then review conflict points to determine which areas of concern will provide you with the most useful and critical utility information.
How deep can you locate utilities?
We can typically locate utilities up to 15ft deep; however soil and ground moisture conditions in addition to the condition of the utility itself play a big part in our success. We have multiple tools at our disposal to give us the best chance to find the utilities we are looking for.
How deep can you dig with vacuum excavation?
Typically utilities run from 1ft deep to 7ft deep but in some instances a utility may be deeper due to directional drilling or utility congestion. We can test hole to +/- 20ft deep if soil conditions allow.
What are the dimensions of a typical test hole?
The average size test hole we dig for uncovering utilities is typically a 12 inch by 12 inch opening, 3 to 6 feet deep. Sizes may vary due to utility and ground conditions and custom size holes can be requested during the job set up process.
Ground Penetrating Radar
Can GPR predict the size of a void cavity below ground?
GPR allows our team to visualize where the void is occurring and identify its boundaries. However, we are no able to determine the depth of a void cavity using GPR.
Can you use GPR to scan vertical surfaces or ceilings?
Of course! GPR is often used to identify the location of rebar in concrete columns and walls.
How does GPR equipment work?
- Tiny energy pulses are sent into materials using an antenna.
- The time and energy it takes for that pulse to return is recorded by a computer.
- Any variations in subsurface materials create reflections. Those reflections are detected by the computer.
Usually, the cause of subsurface reflections include geological structure difference, pipes, and wires.
How deep can GPR go to locate targets?
That depends on the material that we're surveying and the antenna frequency being used. Generally, lower frequency antennas will go further, but you'll sacrifice resolution.
If you're working in dry soil conditions, you're also more likely to get better resolution, as opposed to heavy soil which creates difficulty.
Can GPR be used through water?
GPR can be used through fresh water, but not salt water.
Can GPR be used through ice?
We're glad you asked! Believe it or not, ice and snow offer some of the best conditions under which to operate GPR.
Can I use my cell phone when working with GPR equipment?
Because GPR uses electromagnetic energy over a very wide frequency band, it's recommended that you turn off your cell phone. This is because cell phones transmit the same energy which may interfere with a survey. If you do have to keep you cell phone on during a survey, you should keep it at least 10-20 feet away from the antenna.