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How To Find Stormwater Pipes

How to Find Stormwater Pipes

Being able to pinpoint where your damaged underground stormwater pipes and cables are located is one of the most crucial parts in repairing these essential utilities. The faulty drain pipes need to be found as soon as possible, excavated and restored before they get worse and cause more harm.

However, locating these pipes isn’t an easy feat since the damaged sections may be buried under a concrete slab or under the foundation of your house. You’d be happy if it’s only buried in the soil. Although it may be simple to determine when a pipe is leaking, knowing exactly where the damaged part is vital to minimise the time and effort needed to complete the repairs.

Typically, the following underground pipes are the ones that need repairs:

  • Stormwater pipes
  • Sewerage pipes
  • Garden water pipes
  • Water mains

Let’s look at some of the reasons why your need know how to find stormwater Pipes. There are a lot of factors that go into as to why your pipes might leak or can cause damage to your pipes throughout the years. Erosion of the soil is one thing, while natural phenomena such as earthquakes that cause the ground to move can also result in cracks to the pipes due to the immense pressure.

Roots in Stormwater Pipe

How Do I Know When My Underground Pipes are Damaged?

For water pipes there are a few signs that can provide an indication that your underground pipe is leaking or damaged. One of the ways you might notice this is when you experience a sudden surge in your water bill, even though usage of your water remains normal. If you haven’t spotted any obvious problems within the home, such as a leaking toilet, then your pipes are probably the ones that may be doing that.

A way to confirm that you have a leaking pipe is when you shut off all faucets and appliances which use water in your house. Keep an eye on your water meter and mark the gauge’s last position. Wait for at least thirty minutes and then check back. If the meter moved, even just a little, then this is a sign that a leak is happening in one of your underground pipes.

Some other symptoms you should look out for:

Wet patches or sinkholes – If you notice one of these in the yard, this might be an indication that you have a leaky pipe. Oftentimes leaking does saturate an area with water, which causes a sinkhole or wet patch.

Flooded back yard from poor drainage

Overflowing Stormwater Pits – Many homes have a Stormwater pit installed to help excess run off from driveways. If yours is starting to overflow it can be a sign of a blockage or poor drainage.

Paved areas are cracking or heaving – This is another sign that the ground beneath the pavement has started to become soaked in water.

 Sudden decrease increase in water pressure – Low water pressure that happens all of a sudden may be a sign that plumbing has broken down at a particular area, and water is starting to leak out of it.

Strange noises – Broken or leaking pipes can emit odd sounds such as bubbling, hissing, whooshing, splashing, and whistling.

Water is contaminated – If you notice strong odor or dirt in water from your taps, this may indicate that your plumbing has started to corrode and that running water that goes through your pipes is now contaminated.

Besides that, damaged or leaky sewer lines can also have the following symptoms:

Backups – Experiencing a backup when you run water down your sink or drain is another sign of a broken underground pipe. But if the problem is only restricted to one particular drain, then it is highly likely only limited to that one drain.

Foul smell – If you continuously smell persisting stench coming from sewer gas or other unwanted smell, then this is another sign that there is a crack in your sewer pipe. Sewer lines are naturally airtight, so you shouldn’t smell any odor from them.

Foundation problems – A sewer line below your foundation that is not repaired or remains damaged may cause issues such as settlement and cracks on it.

Repaired underground stormwater pipes

Left unattended a broken pipe can lead to a complete stormwater replacement.

What If I Leave Damaged Sewer Lines Unrepaired?

When you leave any damaged pipes in disarray, there will come a time when they will stop working and fail completely. As soon as this happens, the expense you need to replace them will be higher than it would have if you decided to maintain them.

Besides that, any leaks that happen underground can slowly remove soil from the foundations of your home. This will, in time, start compromising the slab and result in structural problems that are going to make your residence unsafe for everyone.

How Do I Find Damaged Underground Pipes?

If you wish to locate stormwater pipes, you will need the expertise of a professional utility locator.

The process of locating utilities happens when a utility expert identifies the location of subsurface utility mains like water mains and sewer pipes. Traditionally, locating utilities is done with an electromagnetic locator. This device emits an electromagnetic radio frequency with which underground pipes and cables induce. Then, a receiver detects this frequency, which gives the operator the ability on how to trace a stormwater pipe.

Keep in mind, however, that there are limitations to using electromagnetic locators. This is because they can only locate pipes that are made of conductive material. It is unable to find unmarked pipes, especially those made of asbestos, concrete, or plastic. Apart from that, it only works within a restricted range of ten to fifteen feet.

How Can I Identify Damage to Sewer or Stormwater Pipes?

A very effective way to locate damaged stormwater pipes is by using a pipe camera. This small video device is attached at the end of a tube, which is then fed through the line to identify any faulty sections.

Professionals can then mark these areas accurately to help uncover and repair these damaged portions. A pipe camera is also very efficient to use and doesn’t cost a lot in terms of locating damage.

Mala Easy Ground Penetrating Radar

A ground penetrating radar used for stormwater locating – The Mala Easy.

Ground Proximity Radar Technology

Many reputable utilities locators nowadays make use of the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology simply because it is more effective. The way this works is quite straightforward: the device transmits radar signals through the ground. Once it hits something that is buried below, it bounces back to the user with a signal. It then shows data as a “digital map,” which is displayed on the LED screen of the device.

The signal from the GPR bounces back at various velocities depending on the size, shape, and conductivity of the underground object. For example, low conductivity plastic pipes will be reflected back with a signal that has lower velocity.

Additionally, GPR units make use of different kinds of frequencies in order to identify varying targets. An expert would use higher frequencies to detect objects that are small and at depths nearer to the surface. A 1000 MHz can be used to give high-resolution detail, but this can only go as far as 24 inches in depth.

Objects that have similar or identical conductive properties can also be harder to detect. Some can even be undetectable for the GRP operators. For instance, a clay pipe that is buried in loose soil can bring back a signal with similar velocity as its surrounding material.

Besides being able to locate buried objects, GPR units can also be used to identify any air pockets as well as changes in ground strata and geological features. Any ground disturbances like back-filled, including excavated areas, are identified by them too.

It’s crucial to note that GRP devices need to be operated by those who are experienced in their functionality. The units require in-depth training and knowledge in order to work correctly. Since the waves from a GPR device can travel through a wide range of materials, each of them having varying signals based on dielectric and conductive properties, it is imperative that the operator is capable of interpreting such data that is gathered by the radar.


What If My Pipes Are in My Stormwater Easement?

You can carry out your own investigation so you can save time and know if there are stormwater pipes running through your boundary line or easement. What we normally advise is to take a walk around your block and do the investigation in this manner.

On our end, we like looking at Google Street views for signs of any inlet pits and grates. As we match these with current records and drawings from the council (if any), we are able to get a clearer picture of which pipes go where before we even step foot on your site.


Yarra Valley Water’s responsibility of the sewer connection point is dependent on the location of the sewer main and the first Inspection Opening (I.O), which may be above or below ground.

How Will I Know If a Stormwater Pipe is in an Easement?

Whenever an expert wishes to locate stormwater pipes in a person’s property, there is often a requirement from the council or engineer to find specific details of the pipe being examined. They usually want to know:

  • The diameter of the pipe
  • Its material
  • The invert level
  • The location or offset

Once the pipe is accessible, they can start to rod the pipe using a traceable rodder. This is often done from the highest point and all the way downstream – often using gravity to wound its way within the pipe.

Why Should I Use an Accredited Water Pipe Locator Service?

Pipe locators know how to find stormwater Pipes. Stormwater pipe locator services that are accredited means that the company behind them are certified to do their jobs. What this means is that the contractors they have guarantee safe, proficient, and expert water pipe locating services when needed.

Not long ago, simply going through a course and showing that they were capable of providing locator services was enough to get certified. But the growing concern of these locators having inconsistent skill sets, which can lead to accidents due to damage and injuries, has led to stricter testing.

Nowadays, obtaining certification for pipe locator services is now more rigid. Organisations tasked to provide the stricter accreditation processes often require locators to demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge as well as experience in utilities location.

Apart from that, the certified utilities locators need to possess the needed equipment to meet the requirements of the certifying organisations. Gone were the days when purchasing cheap equipment was all that’s necessary to be certified.

The stringency in the standards mean that the industry is growing to be more professional as the years go by. That is why if you plan to use the services of a certified locator, you are guaranteed to get accurate, efficient, and effective service in locating utilities underground.

This then translates to time and money saved since you and the locator know where to dig to get to the damaged pipes. You won’t be risking the damage of other pipes and cables since you will be excavating in the right place.

Besides that, accredited pipe locator services are required to have insurance. For homeowners, this means that if a problem occurs and a claim is to be made, the carrier of the insurance will be shouldering any expenses incurred. For example, the locator has made some mistakes and identifies the wrong pipe, and it ends up being damaged during excavation, the insurance company will be paying to have it repaired.

There are many certified contractors that are also a member of reputable industry associations. Being a part of these groups requires them not only to maintain the best practices but also to follow top quality work standards.

Best Practice Guide for Locating Underground Services

Download 1100s’ Best Practice Guide for Locating Underground Services

Looking for an Expert Plumbing Company in Melbourne?

Residents living in urban areas are in for a big problem if stormwater doesn’t drain properly. Experiencing clogged pipes can not only lead to flooding in your residence, but it will also result in unwanted smell and dirt, especially as they get mixed with other things in your yard.

That is why we at Plumber Nearby in Melbourne will provide you with the best stormwater pipe repair and replacement services whenever you need them. We make use of the latest technology to detect the source of the problem – whether it is a cracked sewer line or a clogged pipe due to dirt, debris, or even those caused by tree roots.

If you are in need of expert utilities locator services right now, we have the personnel at Plumber Nearby to help you out. Contact us today and tell us your plumbing concerns!

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