Tracer Wire

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  • A type of wire used to mark the location of buried Underground Utilities
  • Can be later traced with a proper Underground Wire Locator , or to an extent A Metal Decector or AM Transmitter/Receiver
  • Video - [1]
  • Tracer wire (blue) is required for potable water, sewer (green), gas (yellow).
  • Tracer wire is not required for electrical. Warning tape is a good idea.
    • Mike Holt 2008 - warning ribbon is required for direct burial cables, whether in conduit or nott? [2]
    • This one says warning tape is not needed if you use conduit [3]
    • Practically speaking, warning tape is useful. Use 12" or more above the line. [4]. Point is: someone WILL dig your lines in the future. Things are modified all the time. If I had warning tape here, I would know where the first grid extension is. Now, I have to rely on a metal detector or other means.
  • 6 colors all together - [5]
  • Energized electrical is dangerous becuase it has no telltale signs, unlike gas or water [6]
  • non-contact voltage tester - [7]


  • About tracer - warning tape may also be required in some jurisdictions [8]
  • UPC 604.10.1 [9] -


  • Only works 1-2 feet [10] otherwise you need a pro tool at $1k and up. Tracer wire tool - [11]. It emits a sound over the wire - video - [12].
  • Check.png in 2019 - [13]
  • Metal detector - senses only up to 1.5 the diameter of the pickup coil. [14]


  • Gas - 15 cents/ft for 300' [15] or 25 cents for 100' [$22/100ft - [16]]
  • Water - $64 for 500' of 14 ga - [17]
  • $140 of 1000' of dog fence wire 14 ga [18]


  • Different techniques are used. Radar can find pipe, or induction-based emitter/sensor. Or the tracer wirewhere you connect to a wire. [19]
  • There is jetting-vaccuum to dig in sensitive areas. Could do pressure washer as needed.

About Wire Quality

  • It's the jacket: dog fence, which claims most reliability for burial - is 14AWG XHD [20]. They say that THHN (thermoplastic high heat nylon) is inferior to XHD - ot doesn't last underground
  • The above indicates no difference between dog fence and tracer wire.
  • Main thing to look for is to double check it is Rated for Direct Burial

Tracer Kit

  • Useful Amazon reviews - clip to ground and wire you want to trace. Then use the sensor. [21]
  • Harbor Freight [22] - manual []
  • You energize a wire and use a detector - [23]
  • Another - [24]

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