Tools of the Trade: The Tools We Use to Locate, Excavate, and Rehabilitate

understand what's underneath trademark trinity subsurface
Evan Mowbray

Tools of the Trade: The Tools We Use to Locate, Excavate, and Rehabilitate

At Trinity Subsurface, our team is no stranger to technology. It’s part of our commitment to providing a unique approach to how we gather information. There are a number of important state of the art tools we use to help support utility knowledge, gathering the information needed to ensure you understand what’s underneath the surface of your projects.

For utility locating, there are a number of devices worth discussing in detail. Ground penetrating radar is incredibly useful in determining the location of utilities and other structures. We use tools such as the Proseq GS8000 to scan the ground for subsurface structures. They’re often confused for lawnmowers. If you see a Trinity truck and think we’re mowing the lawn… you’ll be highly disappointed. We also use the Proseq GP8000 to scan walls, floors, and ceilings for structures such as rebar and reinforcement in concrete slabs. The data wouldn’t be possible without the utilization of visualization. Our team at Trinity often uses tablets to not only map out utilities for deliverable purposes for our clients, but also to read the wavelength data reflected by ground penetrating radar.

Trinity Subsurface technician Jake Baker shows off a concrete scan data for rebar, reinforcement, and post-tension cables in a parking garage in Wilmington, Delaware.

Electromagnetic (EM) detectors are similar to ground penetrating radar, but might be confused more with a metal detector than a lawnmower. This hand tool uses a grounded signal box to emit a radio signal. The device produces a higher pitch depending on the depth of your utilities, allowing us to follow a line to and from access points. The split box, consisting of a transmitter and receiver, helps trace and confirm utilities and other large metal structures, such as manhole lids and underground storage tanks. For lines that might not be as easily detectable, such as certain types of pipe, a sonde or duct rodder can be pushed through the pipe, providing a traceable line that can be detected by EM and GPR. 

Spray paint is one of the most important tools in making sure our clients know where their utilities are. It’s probably the most recognizable aspect of utility locating, and for good reason. Utility paint lines can be visible for a while, but various factors such as weather conditions, foot traffic, construction and landscaping can shorten their longevity. Our team at Trinity recommends getting a remark done after thirty days. We utilize other tools, such as utility flags and spray paint extension handles, to help mark these lines with ease.

A Trinity Subsurface technician using an electromagnetic locator to scan and mark water and gas lines leading to a barn on a residential property.

For vacuum excavation, there are a few tools necessary depending on the location. Most importantly, a vacuum truck. These vacuum trucks are equipped with nozzles and a large vacuum to suck up any dirt and materials in the way. They can use both air and water to blast through dirt and stone. A jackhammer can help cut through any asphalt to prepare for vacuum excavation, removing any obstacles to excavation. Face shields are an important safety tool, preventing potential injuries from flying dirt and other debris. These tools all help determine the locations and characteristics of your utilities.

For pipe jetting, Trinity’s combo truck and pressurized nozzles are useful for flushing out pipe blockages, utilizing a jet of water to clean the internal structures and vacuum out standing water. For pipe inspection, our pipe inspection crawlers are connected through our specialty vans that allow us to inspect the internal structures of pipes. For smaller pipes where the pipe crawlers can’t fit, we often utilize a push camera to feed a camera through the pipe. The lateral launch crawler combines these two, allowing our team to push the camera into a lateral for further inspection. It’s hard to visualize this without seeing it in motion, but imagine an RC car shooting a harpoon camera into your pipes. These crawlers can also be detected by tools such as electromagnetic detectors, making them useful for determining pipe locations on top of providing a visual report. For pipe lining, there’s the special felt and fiberglass lining technology that can be combined with resins to cure through UV light or heated steam. There’s also the inflatable packer, which allows our team to fit the pipe liner to the size of the pipe.

Trinity Subsurface's pipe lining team prepares a pipe liner for installation behind an industrial park.

If you’re looking to understand more about what’s underneath the surface of your projects, our team at Trinity Subsurface has the technology and experience you need. Visit our website for further information about our services and the rest of the tools we use to support our projects. Follow us on social media to keep up to date with all of our content and blog posts!

Back to Blog