Choosing The Right Pipe And Cable Locator (Buyers Guide) | Engineer Supply - EngineerSupply

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A Buyers Guide To Cable Detectors

Infographic buyers guide to cable detectors

If you have done any type of work outdoors, you have probably heard the phrase “call before you dig.” This isn’t just a matter of common sense. In most places, it’s the law. Calling ahead will get utility companies to mark their wires and pipes throughout your entire property, which is great. But what do you do when you need to find your own wires or pipes? Utility companies won’t have any information about where they are, which can not only be a problem if you need to install a swimming pool or flower bed but can also be an issue if you want to find the wire or pipe on which you plan to work.

Infographic buyers guide to cable detectors

To solve this problem, you will need to use a pipe and cable locator. It allows you to trace an underground pipe or cable line through the use of a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter is used to send an electrical signal through the pipe or cable, which can be picked up by the receiver. With this method, you can find any buried line (whether it’s metallic or non-metallic), as long as you can run the locator signal through the line. If a non-metallic line has a tracer wire, it will be metallic and will allow you to run the signal through the line. Sometimes, a linear device (such as a plumber’s snake or electrical fish-tape) can be run through the non-metallic pipe so the signal can be used to trace the line.

What to Consider When Choosing the Right Utility Locator

There’s a lot to consider before you can find the right cable and pipe locator. Some of them include but may not be limited to:
  • Strike Alert— This technology sends an alert to let you know that you have found something shallow below the surface and will most likely be struck if you dig in that area. Some cable locators have this feature, but others won’t. If it’s something you think would be useful, you should find a model that comes with this technology.
  • Depth Estimation— Some utility locators will be able to find a cable or pipe but may not have the ability to estimate how deep the line is buried. If you need this feature, you should find a pipe locator that comes with this technology.
  • GPS/GNSS— An internal GPS/GNSS receiver that can give you positional data so you can log it into your records. It will not only show you how the operator is working but can also tell you where the utility locator was used. This is a useful feature for training, as well as for traceability.
Cable locators can also be used with the following accessories:
  • Signal Generator— This device produces a signal that allows you to trace the cable or pipe locator.
  • Signal Clamps— These work with the signal generator to locate utility lines by applying the signal along a pipe or cable.
  • Sondes— These can help you to find utilities that are made of non-conductive materials.
  • Flexitrace— This can help you to find pipes, ducts, and drains. It can come in handy when the line is made of a non-conductive material (such as plastic or PVC).
  • Carry Bag— If you need a way to carry your cable locator in a way that’s most comfortable, you should consider getting a carry bag.
Be sure to shop around, so you can find a utility locator that will meet your specific needs.

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Brands and Ranges for a Cable Detector

When choosing a cable locator, there are several brands and ranges, which can include but may not be limited to:
  • Radiodetection— Founded in 1970, this company is considered to be a market leader in cable avoidance tools. They have produced the C.A.T.4 and Genny4 ranges of cable detectors, which allow users to quickly and safely find buried cable, pipes, and other utilities. They have a variety of tools to choose from, you can be sure to find a product that will meet your specific needs.
  • Leica ULTRA Range— These products allow people to get “best in class” locating and tracing expectations. They come in two versions: Standard and Advanced. But no matter which one you choose, the ULTRA System has flexible operating modes that can give you exactly what you need for your specific locating application and site condition.
  • Leica DD Range— The new Leica DD SMART utility locator, as well as the DD230/220 cable locator series, uses the DX Shield software and signal transmitters that will give you a complete portfolio of detection solutions for utility professionals and anyone who needs to break ground. This cable and pipe locator series uses industry-leading digital signal processing so you can find underground assets deeper, faster, and more accurately than any other system.
Here are some recommended models of cable detectors:
  • Pipehorn 800HL Dual-Frequency Pipe and Cable Locator— This dual-frequency utility location tool is great for finding utility lines that are deeper into the ground. With superior high-frequency performance, it’s considered to be the best utility locator in the industry (especially when direct connect isn’t possible). And it can work in the toughest conditions.
  • Schonstedt REX Multi-Frequency Pipe and Cable Locator— This tool has a transmitter that is less than two inches thick and weighs less than four pounds, so it has a sleek design that can easily fit into a custom shoulder bag. Because the receiver is retractable for easier carrying, this device is both compact and portable. And it has multi-frequency versatility, which is perfect for utility location professionals.
  • Pipehorn 800H Single-Frequency Pipe and Cable Locator— With superior high-frequency performance, Pipehorn makes some of the best utility location tools in the industry. And they can work in the toughest conditions. While a dual-frequency model will allow you locate lines at a greater depth, this model can still find lines up to 18 feet underground (depending on the connection, soil condition, and how well the signal is conducted).
  • Leica DD230 Series Smart Utility Cable LocatorPackage — The Leica DD SMART utility locators (with their DX Shield software) can open the door to a connected world from anywhere and at any time. This tool and others in this series can find underground assets deeper, faster, and more accurately. It can also help you to understand site activity and utility locator use in more detail.
  • Schonstedt REX-LITE 33 kHz Dual-Frequency Pipe and Cable LocatorCombo Kit — The receiver and transmitter together weigh under five pounds, so it has an ultralight design. Because the receiver retracts for easier carrying, it’s both compact and portable. Its dual-frequency design has the versatility you need to get the job done. It’s also backed with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty, so you can be sure to trust this brand.
If you’re looking for the best cable locator you can use on any job site, be sure to look at what we have in stock.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pipe and cable locator?

A pipe and cable locator can be used to find both metallic and non-metallic utility lines that are buried underground. Most models will include a transmitter and a receiver, which will allow you to apply a signal directly to the utility line and can be detected. This method allows you to trace the entire line, so you can avoid damaging it during excavation or construction work.

How does a pipe locator work?

A pipe locator has two basic parts: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter sends an electrical signal that the receiver can detect, but there must be a way for it to travel throughout the line. Pipes and cables that are made of a non-conductive material may have a “tracer wire” that’s buried alongside the utility line, but you can also use a metallic linear device (such as plumber’s snake or electrical fish-tape), which can be inserted inside the pipe so the signal can be applied.

How can I repair a utility locator?

If you have a utility, pipe, or cable locator that needs to be repaired, there are several places to which you can send it. Be sure to speak to someone at Engineer Supply for more information about how you can repair your utility location tool.

What kind of batteries does a utility locator use?

Every cable locator has a different set of specifications, so the kind of batteries it uses will depend on the model. Be sure to read the manual on your specific device for more detailed information. And if you have any questions, be sure to speak to someone at Engineer Supply.

What are the signs of a slab leak?

Slab leaks are a common plumbing problem in many types of homes. They’re water leaks that are located underneath slabs of concrete, which can be a frustrating for many homeowners. Detecting them early is extremely important, but it’s also important to manage the damage that has already occurred. To help you find a slab leak as early as possible, here are some of the warning signs:
  • Hot spots on the floor— One of the first ways to detect a slab leak is to look for persistently hot areas on your floor, because it could be an indication of a hot water line that has busted underneath the concrete.
  • A water protrusion from the slab or ground— Once you start to notice leaks, the situation is starting to escalate and needs to be handled as quickly as possible. Pools of water and other leaks are signs that the water is not only leaking from the pipes but is coming out so much that it’s getting through the walls.
  • Foundation movement or cracking— Water is powerful enough to damage the foundation, which can manifest itself through cracks in the floor and walls of your home. If you see cracks or any type of movement in these areas, it could be the indication of a slab leak. The cost to repair can get expensive at this point, so make sure you get it taken care of as quickly as possible.
  • Stoppage or backup of toilets, tubs, and showers— If toilets, tubs, or showers aren’t working, it could be sign that the water line might be broken. Figure out which appliances are backing up so you can determine where the leak might be, and look for other signs of a leak. If this is the only indication, try to eliminate other causes of the backup.
  • Unexplained odor— Water damage can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can create an unpleasant odor. And in most cases, you’ll notice the foul smell before you see the mold itself. So, be mindful of any odors that might be lingering in certain areas of your home.
You may also notice a water bill that’s unusually high or hear sounds of running water. If you notice a problem, make sure you stay calm. Stop the water if you can and call a plumber to take care of the problem. If you’re looking for one of the best places to buy a pipe or cable locator, be sure to look at what we have at Engineer Supply.

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