Safe digging starts by knowing where the underground utilities are located in the area of your proposed excavation. For most excavations, state law requires the excavator to mark the proposed area with white paint or flags, than contact OHIO811 at least 48 hours prior to the start of the excavation. Local utilities receive notification of your proposed excavation from OHIO811, and respond to mark their lines. To accurately mark our underground pipeline, The Energy Cooperative uses a conductive locator.

A conductive locator requires a direct connection to the underground line or tracer wire, and applies a radio signal which can be detected by an above ground portable receiver. The receiver follows the path of the buried utility line. This is the same technology used in underground pet fences. The buried wire gives an audible warning when the receiver is approaching the buried underground wire. The approach works great when everything is connected, however if the buried wire is broken the receiver does not get a signal and the process doesn’t work.

The Tracer Wire

We typically do not have difficulty locating our metallic gas lines or electric lines, however we can run into issues locating our polyethylene (plastic) gas lines. Since a radio signal cannot be induced on plastic lines, we bury a copper tracer wire with the gas line at the time of installation.

Why it’s important

The tracer wire is accessed at the time of the locate. When connected to the locator, a signal helps us identify the underground gas lines. To gain access to this wire, we typically bring it above ground in our service line valve boxes located near the curb or at your property line; at your home’s meter setting; at the main line valves; or the line marker locations. It is very important to identify and protect the integrity of this buried wire. You may see this yellow locate wire at your meter setting or attached to a line marker in your yard. The tracer wire does not have any current or electrical charge on the wire and is not dangerous or harmful. It does, however, perform an important safety function for The Energy Cooperative, our members, and local excavators.

If the tracer wire is damaged during an excavation, let us know. We will respond at no cost to make repairs to the wire and ensure it is in place and ready to be used when needed for the safety of our members, employees, and local excavators.

As you plant your flowers this spring, mulch your landscaping, mow your grass, and weed-eat around our line markers, you may notice this wire. When you do, remember the important safety function it has in keeping us all safe, and help us to protect the wire so we can work to keep our lines accurately located.