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How do you use a magnetic locator?

Blog do you use a magnetic locator A magnetic locator will only locate items that are made of ferrous metals (such as iron or steel). So, it will only detect metals to which a magnet will stick. While a magnetic locator will only find metallic objects that a magnet will attract, a pipe and cable locator can find non-metallic objects (such as PVC pipes and cables that are often made of copper or steel). This type of underground utility locator can locate objects to which a specific radio frequency has been applied (either through a direct connection or through a tracer wire).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a magnetic locator?

Blog do you use a magnetic locator

As the name suggests, a magnetic locator can only find objects that are made of some type of ferrous material (such as iron or steel). And depending on its size, this type of utility locator can detect objects that are buried as little as 2 feet to as much as 17 feet underground. It won’t, however, be able to find underground cables (which are often made of aluminum or copper).

Can a magnetic locator detect all underground cables?

Because electrical power cables are made of aluminum or copper, a magnetic locator won’t be able to find them. It can only find objects that are made of ferrous metals, which can include:
  • Cast iron pipes.
  • Property corner markers.
  • Steel enclosures or hardware.
  • Hazmat drums.
  • Mag and PK nails.
  • Manhole covers.
  • Marker magnets.
  • Septic tanks.
  • Unexploded ordnance.
  • Valve boxes.
  • Weapons.
  • Well casings.
To find underground electrical cables or non-metallic piping, you’ll need to use some other type of utility locator. Be sure to look at the broad selection of tools that we have at Engineering Supply.

What's the difference between magnetic locators and pipe or cable locators?

A magnetic locator can find underground objects that are made of ferrous metals by using the Earth’s magnetic field. But unlike a pipe and cable locator, it doesn’t send out a signal. So, it can’t find and trace objects through an electrical current that’s being transmitted through an underground line. A pipe or cable locator uses this method, which makes it able to detect non-metallic piping and electrical cables that are buried underground.

Blog do you use a magnetic locator

What frequency does a magnetic locator detect?

Unlike a pipe and cable locator (which can detect a specific radio frequency), a magnetic locator can only find objects through the Earth’s natural magnetic field. So, this type of underground utility locator is limited to items that are made of ferrous metals (such as iron or steel).

Do you need a tracer wire to use a magnetic locator?

A magnetic locator can only detect a magnetic field, so you won’t be able to use a tracer wire with this type of device. You’ll have to use an underground utility locator that’s tuned to the frequency that the tracer wire is sending out, so you can trace the signal from one end of the line to another. Be sure to look at what we have at Engineering Supply, so you can find a utility locator that’s right for you!
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