When it comes to construction and excavation projects, one critical aspect is often overlooked – underground service locating. Whether you’re digging a trench for a new utility line or excavating for a building’s foundation, it’s essential to know the exact locations of underground utilities like water pipes, gas lines, electrical cables, and more. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding this crucial process that can lead to costly mistakes and safety hazards. In this blog, we’ll debunk some of the most common myths about underground service locating.

Myth 1: “I can rely on old blueprints and records.”

It’s a common belief that you can simply consult old building plans, blueprints, or plans received through Before You Dig Australia (BYDA) to accurately locate underground services. While these documents can be helpful as a starting point, they are not always up-to-date or accurate, and often plans received through BYDA are indicative only and don’t guarantee any spatial accuracy. Utility lines may have been moved or modified over time, and new services may have been added, fence lines and other reference points may have moved.

Myth 2: “I can locate underground utilities myself.”

Some people believe that they can use metal detectors or other DIY methods to locate underground utilities. While these tools can be useful for small-scale projects or initial inspections, they often lack the precision and depth measurement required for accurate locating. Professional service locators use specialized equipment and training to ensure precise results. Also, those that are not certified should not open pits containing services such as Telstra, NBN or Electricity cables.

Myth 3: “I don’t need to locate utilities for shallow excavations.”

Even for shallow excavations, it’s essential to locate underground services. Utility lines can vary in depth, and you may encounter unexpected obstructions even in shallower digging. Failing to locate utilities can lead to costly damage and pose safety risks.

While standards often set out minimum depths of utilities and the use of trace wires and warning tape, we can tell you from experience that these standards cannot be relied upon. We have located Telstra lines that have been less than 200mm deep, gas lines shallower than that and new estates with no trace wires on any gas line, water or recycled water pipes.

While we often think that sewer pipes are buried deep and we don’t need to worry about them, did you know that pumped/pressurised sewer doesn’t rely on gravity so it can be very shallow?

Myth 4: “I can rely on visual clues to find underground services.”

Some people believe that they can rely on visual cues, such as above-ground markers, to locate underground utilities. However, not all services are marked, and markers may have faded or been damaged over time.

It is not uncommon for Telstra pits to be covered by soils, gardens or trees/logs, and in rural areas markers for Telstra, Gas and other services may be hundreds of meters apart and not have any visual indicators of where they branch off on different directions.

Also, there are many assets that are old and no longer used, but still in the ground and even though they are no longer in use you still don’t want to strike a gas line!

Myth 5: “I can skip the utility locating step to save time and money.”

Perhaps the most dangerous myth is thinking that skipping the underground service locating step will save time and money. In reality, not locating utilities can lead to costly delays, legal liabilities, and safety hazards. Accidents resulting from hitting underground utilities can have severe consequences to both physical health and financial liabilities.


Debunking these myths is crucial for ensuring the safety and success of any construction or excavation project. Professional underground service locating is a cost-effective and reliable way to prevent accidents, reduce project delays, and avoid legal issues. By understanding the importance of accurate utility locating and dispelling these common myths, you can protect your project, your workers, and the community at large. Always consult with experienced service locators to ensure your project proceeds smoothly and safely.