First Steps towards a Successful Private Utility Locate There are many practices and methods practiced by public one-call companies and expert private utility locators prior to beginning a survey and detecting underground utilities. The one thing that public locators often have over private utility locators is access to “records”. When you are a private utility locator, there are often no plans, records, maps or even opinions as to where these hidden underground utilities may lie. Here are some important steps for private utility locators surveying that next job. A visual walk through of the site is a critical first step when performing an underground utility locate. The importance is for both gaining valuable information as well as safety. Having a strong awareness of the topography and surroundings can be very important when there is a lack of as-built drawings, site plans or utility maps on-site. Physical clues such as settling under asphalt, long longitudinal cracking as well as runs of dried grass running at length can be a big help. Try to access utility rooms and basements and take note as to where the utilities enter into the building. Determine the material composition of the utility. Is it a conductive metal or is it plastic? Are there connection points and what is the best method for locating each utility? Time spent on this walk through can save valuable time, money and confusion later on.