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How to locate stormwater pipes

Blog how to locate stormwater pipes

When a property is going to undergo new construction or there is a need to evaluate the land for planning purposes, it is important for stormwater pipes to be located with all of the other underground utility services. Stormwater pipes are usually made from non-conductive materials like clay, concrete, cement, or PCV, making it necessary to choose the right pipe locator tool for the job. Typical electromagnetic methods aren’t going to work. Here’s how you can find and trace the underground pipes.

Blog how to locate stormwater pipes

Different Ways to Locate Storm Pipes

Through the Manhole

The easiest and fastest way to find out where stormwater pipes are located is by opening nearby manhole lids. These could be either a stormwater or sewer access point. Once the lid is open, you can physically measure the size of the pipe and the invert level. These measurements become known as the Quality A location. Measuring additional location depths and pipe sizes in nearby pits around the site and evaluating them against the Quality A location potentially provides enough data to determine accurate locations. If additional information is needed, non-destructive digging may be required.

Through Pipe Locator Equipment

Non-metallic stormwater pipes can’t be found with an electromagnetic underground pipe locator. A flexible fiberglass rodder is the most common tool used to find these underground pipes. The rodder could either have a traceable wire fitted into the inside, or it could have a traceable sonde fitted onto one end. The sonde transmits a frequency to be tracked. Those using a sonde must have a radiodetection locator receiver in order to report the location.

In order to trace the pipe, there needs to be enough of the rodder or sonde fed through the pipe to estimate the scope. Manholes or pits that have been blocked by debris or other items can make it hard to feed the rodder into the pipe. Tree roots, soil buildup, trash, and rocks can create blockages deep within the pipe as well.

The traceable rodder emits a frequency as it snakes through the pipe, and by matching the frequency to a receiver, you determine where the device may be inside the pipe. This is similar to the process used during a utility locator request. A report is then made on the findings of the signals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Signs of a Storm Water Pipe Presence?

Blog how to locate stormwater pipes

Though the pipes themselves will be deep underground, there are surface elements that will indicate the presence of sewer or stormwater pipes. These include grates in the sidewalk or street, manhole lids, a kerb outlet, gulley pit, headwall, or side entrance pit. You may also find a list in county or city records.

How Long Does It Take To Track Pipes?

You can estimate at least an hour for a thorough pipe evaluation, though it could take longer. It depends on what kind of access you have to the pipe, what kind of lengths and turns occur in the line, and what issues you may encounter with debris or blockages. If you are looking for a specific problem, this could take longer as well.

What Kind of Things Does a Scope Reveal?

You may want to know where the pipes are located for construction purposes on a new property or to install new pipes. You will use a rodder for this. However, problems with drainage can also be found using a special camera scope that is fed through the pipes. It can reveal broken areas, leaks, cracks, blockages, or collapsed pipes.

Do I Need Training To Use a Utility Locator?

You can find some small wiring or metal detection devices at local retailers, but you need professional-grade equipment from Engineer Supply to find underground utilities or sewer pipes. Operating, calibrating, and reading these instruments takes special training and additional equipment. It is best to let professionals handle any location requests.

How Deep Can a Sondes Transmit an Accurate Location?

Sewer lines are often buried below the frost line to prevent freezing, so you may find pipes as far as six or more feet below the surface. A high-quality sonde will be able to reach upwards of 40 feet or more with accurate frequency transmission. You will find several sonde options from industry-recognized manufacturers at Engineering Supply.

For fast, efficient delivery on professional location equipment, check out the selection at Engineer Supply. From transmitters to cables and more, find what you need from this factory authorized dealer of pipe locator components.
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