Directional boring, which is also known as horizontal directional drilling, is a time and money-saving technology that makes possible what can’t be done with traditional digging methods. In fact, good directional boring contractors can accomplish the job without causing much disturbance to the surface and the surrounding environment.      

However, horizontal directional drilling, like other drilling methods, has its own inherent safety risks. While HDD is truly beneficial, it’s a highly complicated process which can result in damage to property when things go wrong. Such incidents can lead to damage claims and lawsuits which can involve huge sums of money.  

As a responsible directional drilling contractor, we are taking time to discuss one of the most common risks associated with drilling operations – the accidental hitting of underground utilities. This is a serious matter that we commit to avoid by all means because it can disrupt an entire community due to cut water, power or communication lines.

Here are the most important safe operational procedures that we seriously practice to avoid hitting underground utilities:

  1. Verify underground utility lines based on surface markings before the start of any vertical or horizontal drilling operation

  2. Use multiple methods to locate and identify underground lines especially if these lines are:  

  • Undocumented
  • Covered by other lines
  • Buried at depths inconsistent with code requirements
  • Having a changed position as a result of ground movement 
  1. To avoid hitting underground utilities during our horizontal directional drilling operation, we verify underground utility lines through:

  • Visual inspection of the entire digging path to identify structures that may signify the presence of subsurface utilities. Examples of such structures include manhole covers and gas meters.
  • Review location plans of underground utilities and if possible, contact utility companies to verify the information.
  • Compare findings against surface markings to ensure that no utilities are missed.
  • Perform potholing to make sure that no lines are located in the drill path
  • Call 811, the “Call Before You Dig” number to know the exact location of underground utilities in the work area

The Importance of Potholing

In the construction industry, potholing refers to the drilling of exploratory holes to confirm the presence of subsurface utilities and other structures within a defined work area or planned drill path. It helps drilling contractors avoid underground utility lines during horizontal directional drilling operations.  

To ensure that any buried utility lines are located and identified, the depth of the potholes should be consistent with the planned depth of the drill path. This should help the directional drilling contractors avoid hitting underground utilities which can have catastrophic consequences on people and businesses in the affected community.

Potholing also works to ensure a safe drilling operation and keeps the drilling contractor away from huge damage claims and costly legal battles. 

As a directional drilling contractor, it is our primary responsibility to make sure that our operations are safe not only for our personnel but for the community and environment where we operate.

We are a team of skilled and experienced professionals who are committed to deliver to our clients an efficient and safe horizontal directional drilling performance.

Call us at (303) 475-8420.