Metal detectors can be used for all kinds of utilitarian purposes in addition to their hobby and sporting uses. From finding property line markers to finding house sewers, there are all kinds of uses that can save both time and money for all kinds of home improvement and maintenance projects.
Metal Detectors and Property Line Markers
What are property line markers?
At some point in time, virtually every property has four long rebar stakes driven into the property corners by either a property owner or a real estate developer. Property boundary markers at the corners of lot lines are important to be able to locate for construction projects and legal reasons, so that way you don’t encroach on your neighbor’s property. Finding a boundary line marker might seem like quite a difficult task, even with a metal detector. Just think about all of the nails, pop tabs, can slaw, and numerous other metal objects that are commonly found in yards. You could hire a survey crew to perform a land survey of your new home, but this can be more expensive than you may want.
Ferrous vs. non-ferrous metals
Metal detectors find Ferrous metals which include steel, carbon steel, stainless steel, cast iron, and non-ferrous metals which include aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, tin, lead, zinc, and other precious metals (gold, silver, etc). Property markers are usually made of solid rebar which is mainly made up of carbon steel. Carbon steel is a ferrous metal and most cheap metal detectors can pick this up. The rebar is buried only a few inches underground so as to not get hit by a lawnmower (1″ to 3″ depth).
How do you find property line markers?
One remedy to this is to find the plat of your yard or your property. This boundary survey shows you exactly where the land developer or inspector drove the land surveying corner markers into the ground. It also shows you where the easements for various utilities and various city property are located in relation to your own property survey markers. Once you have a rough idea of where the property line marker will be located, it is simply a matter of metal detecting around the corner and finding the piece of steel. If the rebar happens to look damaged or like it may have been altered somehow, it may be important to double-check where the exact property lines are with a professional land surveyor.
Metal Detectors and Land Surveyors
Professional Land Surveyors
Professional land surveyors perform all kinds of varied tasks, and many of these involve property boundaries and being able to locate various components of properties for landowners, whether it is gas lines, electric lines, or any other utility.
There are also metal detectors that are built specifically with the land surveyor in mind and these are referred to as magnetic locators. These are designed to easily find ferrous metals. However, one of the most important features is the ability to discriminate against all kinds of metals except for the exact one you are looking for, in most cases steel. These metal detectors also have to be able to detect deep, especially when you want to search for property boundary markers and gas or electrical lines. Surveyors always have access to the plot plans for each property and will be able to use the marked utility lines and property boundaries to get close to where they need to be. Gas lines and electrical lines are easy to determine, as they are long and you will be able to find it several feet forward and several feet backward. Metal detectors are one of the greatest pieces of equipment that surveyors can use, as they save both time and effort for almost every surveying activity.
Metal Detectors and Buried Sprinklers
Sprinklers are a great addition to any yard, but sometimes they can cause serious headaches. When they get covered with dirt or just won’t come up anymore, it is important to find the issue and quickly address it before it leaves an impact on your lawn and garden. Luckily, sprinklers are very easy to find with metal detectors, as most sprinklers have many metal parts and are only a few inches below the ground. When you begin using the metal detector, make sure to have the sensitivity as high as you can until it starts intermittently beeping, then turn it down a notch, as there might not be a ton of metal in the sprinkler heads. It is a good idea to use iron discrimination because there is more than likely brass or some other alloy in the sprinkler. If you can get within close proximity of where you think the sprinkler head is, this can save you from digging a bunch of nails and pull tabs. If a previous owner installed them, you may possibly be able to contact them. Once you have found it, gently dig around it with a trowel or spade, being sure to not hit the waterline. Once this is done, you can perform maintenance or call a maintenance professional to get your sprinkler back in order. Using a metal detector is the best and fastest way to locate sprinkler heads in any yard.
Metal Detectors and House Sewers
Your home’s sewage system is one of the most important components you need to be aware of. When something goes wrong with anything involving your sewers, it is vitally important for you, the homeowner to figure out what is wrong and figure it out as soon as you can, as this can prevent expensive repairs. One of the best ways to find the various components of your home’s sewage system is to use a metal detector. If you live in town or a developed area, you will more than likely have a sewer main which runs underneath the road in front of your house.
There is a lateral pipe that connects your home to this sewage main. If you live in the country or in some other scenarios, you will have a septic system that is connected to your house by the lateral pipe. There is also a cleanout that allows for access to your lateral pipe, and many times a piece of rebar is put near it in case it gets buried, allowing your metal detector to pick it up. Metal detectors can help you locate these various components if there is ever an issue and you will be able to see what is going on. If it is something simple that you can fix, that is great, but if it isn’t you might have to call in professionals. Either way, you will be able to save time and money by having located the components for the company.
Best Metal Detectors and Magnetic Locators
If you need a metal detector for any of these jobs, you have two options: you can decide whether you want to buy a machine for the long-term or rent a metal detector as a short-term purchase. There are pros and cons to both decisions, and what it ultimately boils down to depends on your situation. It’s common to rent a machine when your primary goal is to find your property line markers. Metal detectors can be pricey and it can get overwhelming when you don’t know a lot about them, so in this scenario renting a metal detector can be a great way to find your property line marker and test out a machine. Who knows, you may end up liking it and making a long-term purchase!
The best machine you could use to find property line markers is a magnetic locator. As mentioned above, these machines are designed to easily find ferrous metals including rebar. Here are a few machines that we recommend using:
- The Fisher FX3 Ferro Magnetic Locator Probe
- The Fisher FML-3 Magnetic Locator
- The Fisher FP ID 2100 Magnetic Locator
Metal Detectors and Accessories
If you are just trying to locate metal that is close to the surface, you can get away with buying or renting less expensive, lower-quality machines. If you need to find pipes deep in the ground, a higher quality machine will have to be considered. For a budget metal detector, it is definitely worth considering the Bounty Hunter Tracker IV, as this metal detector provides everything you need for basic jobs, at a great price point. If you want a metal detector that can be used for basic needs, as well as finding smaller metal targets deeper in the ground, the Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector is durable and will get down deep in the ground to find exactly what you are looking for. If you absolutely need to find deep down targets, a professional metal detector such as the Nokta Makro Jeohunter 3D Basic will get the job done quickly and effectively. These are just a few of the metal detectors we recommend to get started on, but for more options check out our guide on the best metal detectors.
Operating a metal detector can be overwhelming if you’ve never used one, especially if your main goal is to find a property line marker. However, hiring a professional surveyor can get expensive. Whether you decide to rent or buy a metal detector, we recommend checking out any of our resources on the blog to help guide you through this process.
It’s important to note, that laws vary by state for building fences and other additions. However, knowingly building over your property line is an encroachment onto your neighbor’s property and could result in a legal dispute unless you have your neighbor’s permission in writing. In order to avoid legal issues and determine exact property line markers, you may want to get a second opinion from a professional land surveyor before making any final decisions.