Finding Underground Wiring


How do I find underground wires (110V, water sprinkler valves,...)? I'm moving into a house with many underground wires which I would like to locate. Some are live a.c. others low voltage or signaling. Is there something I can buy/rent to do this?
Thanks
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Al Schmidt wrote:

In most areas you there is a "call before you dig" 800 number that you are required to call a couple days before you do any digging deeper than 12"-16". This central dispatch service notifies the various utilities in the area (power, phone, cable, etc.) who will come out to locate and mark their cables. This service is free and will take care of those utility feeds.
If you're nice and they aren't in a hurry you might be able to talk one of the utility folks into locating other feeds for you. If not it's possible that one of the big equipment rental companies like United Rentals or Nations Rent may rent the locator equipment.
The locator is really easy to use, there is a signal injector that you just clamp around the wire (outside the insulation, no stripping or contact with the wire) that injects a locator signal onto the line. You then take a detector that looks a bit like a metal detector and wave it across the ground locating the strongest signal and marking with the little flags or paint. You just work out from the known starting point marking as you go.
When you have everything located, take pictures and measurements and file them away safely for future reference. If you dig in the future you're still required to call the utility locator folks, but having the map of the locations already helps a lot when planning projects.
Pete C.
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This is for public utilities, not privately owned ones, which is what the OP was asking.
Sprinklers, low voltage freeds, and wiring to outbuildings, outlets, or post lamps would all be private wiring and is not in the public record-- at least where I'm from.
-Tim
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Tim Fischer wrote:

I noted that. Locate all the utility lines first. If one of the utility guys is nice and not in a hurry you may be able to get him to locate the others. If not you need to find a rental locator unit. Watching the utility guy use his locator will teach you how to use the rental one.
Pete C.
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On Tue, 14 Nov 2006 13:52:08 GMT, "Al Schmidt"

I did have to find some sprinkler valves recently. I would dig near a sprinkler head (those aren't so hard to find if the system works) and look for wires running along the pipes. In this system, I would find some number of red wires (one for each valve I hadn't gotten to yet) and one white wire (common, present if any red wires are too).
--
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Mark Lloyd
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Call your local underground utility locating service.
In addition to making the arrangements to have your PUBLIC lines located, they may be able to suggest a contractor that will locate PRIVATE lines.
In the past, I have, as a courtesy, located ONE private line (or two) for a good customer. These days, locators are so very pressed for time that such freebies are probably nonexistent.
Plastic water lines (no metal) CANNOT be located by COMMON locators. Nonmetallic lines (gas, etc) are usually placed along with a 14-12-gauge locating WIRE in the same trench. Lawn sprinkler companies usually don't bother to place such wires. Good luck!
--
:)
JR

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