Frequently asked questions

Q. How do Gopher State One-Call and Digger's Hotline work?

Like all one-call centers, GSOC and Digger's Hotline work as an intermediary between registered utility operators and customers seeking information on the location of buried utilities.  Their operators enter locate request information into a computerized system that automatically identifies and notifies registered utility owners who have indicated they have facilities in a given area.  GSOC and Digger's Hotline do NOT mark underground facilities. 

Q. If GSOC and Digger's Hotline don't mark the utilities, then who does?

The utility operator is responsible for marking their facilities in response to a locate request through the one-call system.  In many cases, they contract with a locating company who receives the request and responds to it on their behalf.  Some utility operators use in-house personnel to respond to locate requests.  There is no practical difference in the end result.

Q. I called GSOC and they told me that some utilities are "private".  What does that mean?

Not all buried utilities belong to a GSOC registered owner.  Underground utilities that are "private" include facilities that were installed for the use of their owner typically by someone other than a utility company like Xcel Energy, Century Link or CenterPoint.  They include most parking lot lighting and commercial signage, internal communication lines on campuses of schools, businesses and hospitals, and a variety of residential use lines like power to pools, tennis courts, and gates as well as LP lines, sprinkler systems, and wells.  In fact, there are thousands of miles of private utility lines in the ground in Minnesota and most of the time getting them marked requires hiring a private locator (like ZoneOne) who specializes in marking private facilities.  

Q. Does ZoneOne mark private facilities?

Yes!  ZoneOne has been marking all types of facilities including private utilities since the early 1980s.  We are more than happy to schedule the location of your private lines, typically within 48 hours, although same day service is sometimes available.  We prefer to locate your private facilities after the public facilities have already been marked, but it's not a requirement.

Q. How are private utilities marked?

Private utility lines are located and marked in much the same way that owners of registered utilities mark theirs.  A technician will visit your location, request any information you might have in the form of a map, utility drawing, or even your personnel recollection.  Then he or she will attempt to find the lines using electromagnetic induction.  Electromagnetic location of your utilities uses a radio transmitter to place a signal on your lines that can be located at the surface with a specialized receiver.  In most circumstances, the technician will need only minimal access to the facility and will not need to disrupt service.  Depending on the nature of the site, the technician may also perform a passive sweep looking for 60Hz and VLF radio evidence of unknown utilities.  Any lines that are found are typically marked using an environmentally friendly paint system color coded to utility type.  Evidence of the marks usually fades in a matter of three weeks or less.  Disposable flags can be used with or in place of paint at your request.

Q. It sounds like you use pretty sophisticated equipment.  Is your service expensive?

We use current generation, digital, multi-frequency locating equipment.  It can be expensive to purchase and operate; however, we are always sensitive to the need to provide good value.  Our private locating services are competitively priced and we'll never try to sell you something you don't need or want.  Our service call rates vary depending on the type of site we're marking.  Residential customers enjoy low flat-rate pricing based on their distance from our Buffalo office.  This means that if you're a homeowner, you'll know how much we're going to charge before we ever come out.  Commercial customers and farms are on a slightly higher tier, with industrial sites, fiber optic, and commercial gas/LP locates at our top rate.  Our service is almost always less expensive than a damaged line, and always much, much safer.  We charge a $100 premium for after hours service including weekends and holidays.  

Q. Can you find an underground break in a line?

Usually, yes.  We operate underground fault locating equipment that is specially designed for that task and enjoy a high degree of success in finding underground breaks-- saving you time and money in the repair process.  The faulted line needs to be accessible at either end and our technicians cannot disconnect anything for you.  Direct buried lines work best and our success rate diminishes significantly when the ground is frozen or when the fault is located under asphalt or concrete.  This is due to the nature of the process used.

Q. Can you find  my sewer or septic line?

Sometimes, but usually not.  Most sewer laterals are non-metallic in nature, meaning they can't be found by electromagnetic induction.  Some of these facilities are accompanied by a tracer wire installed for locating, in which case we can usually help.  Septic lines are the same story.  Since they are generally non-metallic, they can't be found by electromagnetic induction, but sometimes there is an alarm wire that accompanies the septic pipe.  We are generally able to locate that wire.

Q. Can you find property pins?

Our success rate with property pins is about 25%.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  Sometimes they have been removed, and sometimes there are other metallic objects in the area that obscure our ability to detect them (such as fire hydrants, telephone pedestals, and chain link fences).  We're always happy to try, but will have to charge even if we're not successful.

Q. Do you offer a guarantee?

Unfortunately, no.  There are too many variables that can interfere with a locate including the chance of there being underground facilities that no one knew were there and that our instruments were unable to detect.  But our success rate is very high and we've been protecting the assets of underground utility owners for more than 30 years.  If we're having a difficult time finding something due to the physics of the locate or the nature of the site, we'll tell you about it and help you determine a safe dig plan.  Plus, as we like to say, getting a locate always increases your odds of a safe dig.