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Tracing Plastic Water Pipe Underground. Answered

Earlier today, while removing tree stumps, on of my crew struck water. The theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies came up. "when up from the ground came a bubbling crude! ...oil, that is... " except it was water, and we went scrambling to find the water shutoff.

Lawn Sprinkler systems usually have plastic pipe a few inches underground.  No metal.   :.   Can't find it with metal detector.

Potential Options:

AC wires can be tracked through walls by the electromagnetic flux around them. Stud sensors today also have a circuit for AC wiring. Could something like that be used?  Although city water has some minerals in it, does it have enough to conduct electricity well enough for an electric pulse sensor? If the water in the system was temporarily made salty enough for an EM signal to be traced, would it mess up the lawn once you dumped that salty h2o? Whata bout conductivity of a fertilizer mix?

Medical scans- barium- mildly radioactive. mmmm.... yeah. right.

Chemical sniffers- sniff out those semi-soft pipes? Like dogs sniffing out contraband in the airport...

Use water flow to carry a fine wire through the pipe, then track an EM signal in that wire.

sonic imaging (or at least detection- like the stud sensor)

ground penetrating radar...

That's all I can think of.  Every option I can think of has issues. Is there any precedent for something that works in this situation?


run a length of metal wire that you CAN use a metal detector to find into the pipe from the end you broke...then use your metal detector to detect the wire that's in the pipe.

Every state I lived in had a number you called and the utility companies came out and marked where burred lines/cable /pipes were located. It was manditory to call before you dug

I've had em do that, too, madhatter. That's just the mains, in my experience. The pipe we hit was not the water main, but a supply for a sprinkler system. But Perhaps they could locate those, too with the same equipmnt.

If it would not work I would not use it.
I agree it can take a bit of practice to get the handling right but so everyone I showed it to picked it up in under 30 minutes and was able to find the hidden wires under the carpet.
It works best if the wire you hold is at least 80cm long, under this it needs a very steady hand.

Turst me, I would not post it if I could not confirm it works.

I found a broken PVC pipe in my garden this way - and it was 1.2m deep in the ground...
Could follow it as long as it was full of water, once I lost it I also had the point of failure located quite accurate.

I fail to see what your link has to do with it as there is nothing paranormal about using a piece of wire for this job.

I don't say it is a perfect system and you might confuse it with the claims for findin gold or even old graves.
These bend twigs that bounce down on the spot are bogus IMHO.
The wire system I use works, from what I understand, by reacting to changes in the magnetic field.
I never used it for anything else than finding a water pipe or some wire under carpet for party fun but again: I would not do so if it would not work for me (and others).

Do me the favour and humor me:
Make a wire that is straight and bend in a 90° angle on the end to use (I think you know how to find examples on the net), check that you don't have wires or pipes in the ceiling or floor in one area and put a straiht wire or copper pipe on the floor.
Hold the wire so it is just able to stay in the forward position and any tiny movement of your hand would make it turn.
Walk around a bit to get a feeling for holding it right and freely.
When you feel confident walk very slowly over your test object, a 90° angle to your wire is best for it.
Repeat it a few times and you will notice the wire actually turns in your hand until you are parallel over the object.
Now ask someone to hid your object under the carpet or a big rug without you knowing the direction it is pointing.
After crossing the area a few times in different direction you will be able to tell where the hidden object is.
All it takes is a steady hand and holding the wire almost at tipping point.
I can't ell if it works for finding underground water or precious metals as I only trust in things I can see working - I have seen anyone finding a water stream or anything else with this method and I never had any intention in trying it for this matter either.

"nothing paranormal"?

Then, please, describe the science behind the process of dousing.

Dousing has been put to the test many times, and, each time, has failed to achieve results any more statistically significant that guessing.

Are you trying to find a solution you can make yourself, or buy one ?

either/ or. depending on cost, i might buy somethin.

I don't know what these cost, or how often you have a problem. I had one of these in pieces for a friend to find out how they work.


A twist on steveastrouk maybe you could use sound or sonar to find the void. Not sure how large the pipes are but it would be a continuous void in the ground. I wonder if you could hack a stud finder since it's almost doing the opasite of what you want.

in this case, 1 inch pipe about 6 inches underground.

A twist on steveastrouk maybe you could use sound or sonar to find the void. Not sure how large the pipes are but it would be a continuous void in the ground. I wonder if you could hack a stud finder since it's almost doing the opasite of what you want.

You can put a sound source in the main irrigation feed, and listen to it in the ground. If you're really clever and sync the detection to the source, you can get astonishingly low level signals back.

If you know where each of the pipe is, you could (temporarily) pass a signal/voltage/current along the water itself, then track that.

Or maybe use a long, thin, stiff rod (welding bar?) - push it into the ground, and rest your ear against the top end to trace the pipe by the sound of water flowing along it?