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What is potholing and how does this process help expose underground utilities?

Potholing is a utility locating method that involves using a core drill to create a small hole, which exposes underground utilities, such as pipes and cables, for the purpose of identifying and marking their location and depth. This technique is commonly used by utility contractors to safely and accurately locate and mark underground utilities before digging or excavating for construction or maintenance purposes.

There are several methods for potholing, including hand digging, hydrovac and air excavation, and core drilling. Core drilling uses a diamond core drill bit driven by a core drill machine to remove the top layer of concrete or asphalt and expose the soil. Hand digging is the most common method to remove the soil and involves manually digging a small hole using tools such as shovels and pickaxes. Hydrovac excavation uses high-pressure water and a vacuum system to remove soil and expose underground utilities, while air excavation uses pressurized air to loosen and remove soil. 

Potholing is a crucial step in the utility locating process as it helps to prevent damage to underground utilities, which can be costly and disruptive. It also helps to ensure the safety of workers and the public by identifying and marking the location of underground utilities.

Utility contractors typically use a variety of tools and equipment to perform potholing, including core drills, shovels, pickaxes, hydrovac trucks, and air excavation equipment. They may also use specialized utility locating equipment, such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic locators, to accurately locate and mark the position of underground utilities.

Before potholing, utility contractors should obtain necessary permits and follow all local regulations and guidelines. They should also take precautions to protect the surrounding area and minimize any disruption to traffic or pedestrian activity.

In summary, potholing is an important technique used by utility contractors to safely and accurately locate and mark underground utilities. By using various methods and specialized equipment, contractors can effectively expose and identify underground utilities and prevent damage and disruption during construction or maintenance activities.