Whether you are working in your own home, or carrying out ground works for a major civil engineering project, if you need to drill a hole you must be confident, before you start, that it is safe to do so. Mistakes when you are drilling can be very dangerous, and can also be very costly and inconvenient.
There are two important steps you should take before you pick up a drill: planning and checking. The planning stage is where you work out where there are likely to be hidden cables, gas or water pipes, and the checking stage is where you test to make sure that the information from your planning is correct.
Planning and Checking
Although you may not have access to architects’ drawings, you can usually have a fair idea where there may be cables or pipes simply from the location of visible items such as sockets, switches, taps and boilers. When it comes to checking, there a number of detection devices available from DIY stores at a reasonable price, that can show you the precise location of hidden services and metalwork. However, it is important to bear in mind that if you cannot detect services even though your planning indicates they may be present; do not go ahead unless you are sure.
The cost of calling in an expert is far less than the cost of replacing damaged wiring or pipe work, the inconvenience of being without water or power, or the risk of serious injury from drilling through an electric cable or gas pipe.
The same process also applies to larger scale construction or civil engineering works. At the planning stage the main difference is that very often you do not have the same visual clues to suggest the location of buried services. For this reason where you suspect there may be hidden pipes and cables, you should approach local service providers for advice on their location.
They will be able to provide you with service plans; but be careful, as these may not pinpoint the specific location. At the checking stage you will need to use professional detecting equipment. The most common is the Cable Avoiding Tool (CAT). This is often used in conjunction with a signal generator (Genny) and can detect a whole range of buried services including live electrical cables, passive cables such as telephone and fibre optic cables, water pipes and gas pipes. Even when you are confident that you know the location of buried services, you still need to take care not to drill too close to them, and if necessary complete your excavation with hand tools, which are much easier to control.
Consider Professional Help
CAT and Genny require specific training to use them correctly and to interpret the results from them. These instruments also require routine maintenance and regular calibration to ensure that they produce the most accurate readings. Many companies do not find it cost effective to keep up this maintenance and training requirement, and prefer to use independent expert companies like Drilltec.
Here at Drilltec, we provide a complete drilling service including planning and checking through to the completion of the project. Remember to always stay safe when you are drilling and call in the professionals for added peace of mind.