How To Locate & Trace Buried Cable Television (CATV) Lines

How To Locate & Trace Buried Cable Television (CATV) Lines

Cable Television or Community Antenna Television (CATV) is a system that delivers television programming through a network of coaxial cables. These cables are usually installed underground or inside the wall to protect them from damage caused by weather and other external factors. However, buried CATV lines are not always immune to damage, and this is why it's essential to locate and trace them before performing any excavation work in the area.

Locating and tracing buried CATV lines can be challenging, especially in urban areas where there are many utilities and obstacles underground. However, there are various ways to locate and trace these cables, and this article will explore some of the most effective methods.

Ways to Locate and Trace Buried CATV Lines

  • Cable Locators

    Mini Cable Locator for Tracing Generally Metallic Conductors, Cables (live or dead) In Walls & Underground

    Cable locators are the most common tools used to locate and trace buried cables, including CATV lines. They work by detecting the electromagnetic field generated by the cable and provide information on the cable's location, depth, and orientation. Cable locators are typically easy to use and can provide accurate results, but they require some level of expertise to operate effectively.

    To use a cable locator, you need to first connect the transmitter to the cable and then move the receiver along the path of the cable. The receiver will then indicate the location and depth of the cable, allowing you to mark the area accordingly.

  • Signal Tracers

    Tempo Communications 501 Tracker II Underground Cable and Wire Locator

    Signal tracers are similar to cable locators in that they detect the electromagnetic field generated by the cable. However, signal tracers are more effective when dealing with live cables, as they can detect the signal being transmitted through the cable. This method is particularly useful when dealing with CATV lines that are currently in use.

    To use a signal tracer, you need to connect the device to the cable and then follow the path of the cable while monitoring the signal strength. The device will then indicate the location and depth of the cable, allowing you to mark the area accordingly.

  • Metal Detectors

    SUNPOW Metal Detector

    Metal detectors are commonly used to locate buried objects like pipes, cables, and utility lines. These devices work by detecting the presence of metal in the ground.

    While metal detectors are not specifically designed for locating CATV lines, they can be helpful in certain situations, such as when you're trying to locate a cable that's been buried shallowly.

  • Direct Visual Inspection

    Direct visual inspection involves physically digging up the cable to inspect it for damage or degradation. While this method is the most time-consuming and invasive, it's often the most accurate way to assess the cable's condition.

    Direct visual inspection is typically only used when other methods have failed, or when the cable's condition is critical and needs to be assessed immediately. Before digging, it's important to check for any underground utilities or obtain the necessary permits and permissions.


Locating and tracing buried CATV lines is an essential part of maintaining our modern communication infrastructure. By using a combination of tools and techniques, including cable locators, GPR, signal tracers, and direct visual inspection, you can accurately locate and trace the path of buried cables, allowing for timely repairs or replacements. As always, it's essential to follow all necessary safety protocols and consult with experts when needed to ensure the process is done safely and effectively.

Back to blog