Metal Detectorist looking for property markers

Can a Metal Detector Find Property Markers?

Looking for some buried property markers? I too was wondering if a metal detector could find property markers. Most people think of metal detectors as Sherlock Holmes-type gizmos that help us find buried treasure. There are more practical uses for them than we might guess.

When conducting property line inspections, you can use a metal detector to find the survey pins made of steel or iron. These materials are known to disrupt the electromagnetic field of the Earth. I’ll guide you on how to use this device to find your property markers.

Why Do You Need to Find the Proper Markers?

Suppose you’re a property owner having a hard time with people trespassing on your property. In that case, you should install signs saying “No Trespassing.” It will make people think twice before entering your property. (Source)

In this scenario, you can fence off your property to keep out unwanted guests. It will notify them via a physical and visual barrier to help prevent confusion.

Online regional maps with property lines
Online regional maps with property lines – image credit GIS

However, ensure that you don’t go on other people’s property.

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 So, it’s essential to know where the property lines are before making any significant purchases or beginning any development. By establishing appropriate boundaries, we can lessen the likelihood of arguments with our neighbors. (Source)

Also, your property’s limits are not as straightforward as they seem. The grass you cut, your neighbor’s fence, and your neighbor’s driveway are not what defines your property’s boundaries.

The desire for seclusion is a typical motivation for erecting a fence or hedge. Still, neighbors who do the same may find themselves at odds with one another.

It is especially true for more significant home renovations. For unexpected developments or just for a quick hack job, marking your property boundaries can save you from bugging your neighbors. You don’t need to commit time-consuming mistakes because you weren’t sure where exactly you entered their property.

So, can a metal detector find property markers? ​​A metal detector can help you quickly find and mark property markers for less money than digging holes all over the lawn. These have been used for decades as an efficient, low-cost way to find encroaching property lines and markers, from fence posts to building corners.

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What Is Property Pin?

A boundary monument or property pin is a metal object placed at the edge of a property to mark the boundary line. It is often a steel pole 3×4″ in diameter, typically pushed into the ground.

The survey shows the various markers that need to be placed on the property lines. You can also use these markers to find permits for multiple projects, such as fences, sheds, and driveways. (Source)

These often stand at the four cardinal points of a property or along its perimeter. Finding these pins is a breeze when you know what to search for and where to look for them.

With its portable size, a metal detector can be handy for locating property pins. You may find these pins by walking to the street or lot line in front of your home and then counting back 15 feet from where you think the marker should reside.

You may use a metal detector to locate these metal pins, and the marker, which should exist no more than six to ten inches down, can be reached by digging.

These metal pins or survey markers feature a colored top cap that makes it easy to identify the boundaries of your property.

How Do You Find Markers on Your Property?

Using a metal detector to find property markers
Using a metal detector to find property markers

Also, you can use a metal detector to track down property markers. You must consider the boundaries when buying a house or building a fence. But before that, you need to keep in mind some essential reminders.

Have the Necessary Documents

First, you must have the necessary paperwork before building a fence or establishing new structures. You need to know all this documentation before you search for your property markers and do some digging. (Source)

Check the Plat Map

Example Plat Map
Example Plat Map

When you buy a home, you may receive a property map showing your land’s locations and the next one. It also gives you information about the people living in the area.

A civil engineer creates a plat map, which represents the boundaries of a property divided into multiple lots. Although it’s generally correct, it can be challenging for people to understand.

While a survey map shows the details of a property, such as its size, location, boundaries, and more, it can also provide a clear view of the fence.

What can you see from the map? The map shows the dimensions of the land and its direction. It also displays the parcel number, which is written in bold and appears in the middle portion of the lot. You can also refer to a property map as a survey plan. Although both are often interchangeably used, the first one is slightly different.

Another way is through a country’s geographic information system. GIS can give you a general idea of your property markers. (Source)

Start Surveying

If you have difficulty locating your front curb, use the city’s drawing to determine the width of your public right of way. It will take you around 12 of the way to your property. If the road centers in the middle, measure from the center of the road to your property, about 12 feet of the way.

Place a marker along the front of your parcel multiple times to create a measurement that will help you identify your lot’s front lot line. It will allow you to find your property pins easily.

Some people own land that goes out into the wilderness. Because the ground is rough and there are trees and rock walls, finding ways to get around these places can be challenging. With this concern, can a metal detector find property markers?

Surveying on these locations can be done using various tools, such as theodolites and metal detectors, to find the exact boundaries of your property.

If you have to walk through thick plants to get to these places, a magnetic device might help you find your way. These tools are great for finding property markers and can also ignore targets not made of iron or steel.

Use the Metal Detector Properly

You’ll need to start at a particular corner of the map to use a metal detector properly. You’ll then have to go to the next marker or corner. As you walk through the area, you’ll be advancing your detector in front of you until you reach the next property marker. Sometimes, it’s helpful to mark a boundary with paint or flags.

You can mark the boundary of your land with wooden stakes or tape by hanging them up. It will allow you to see how far you can go in your domain. A clear understanding of the boundaries will allow you to plant trees or build structures in the area.

Start Digging

After you have found the property markers, it’s time to start excavating. You can find these marks up to 10 inches below the surface. Before beginning a digging project, ensure you have the necessary utility lines marked and installed.

Although it’s possible to find the markers on your own, it’s also essential to hire a professional surveyor to look at the property and determine the exact position of the markers. The surveyor will then place them back where they were initially.

The price of a survey can vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the property, its size, and the age of the property requiring a survey.

If you’d like more articles about metal detecting check out the links below.

Ask For Professional Help

As we’ve answered the question, can a metal detector find property markers? People often use metal detectors to find property markers, but it can be hard to see them in places that aren’t maintained. It is because the environmental conditions may have caused the tags to sink.

If you’re not confident using a metal detector, you can ask for professional assistance. Most commonly, you can find corner pins on the property’s corners. A qualified surveyor can provide you with the exact location of these pins by conducting a thorough survey.

Land surveyors use specialized equipment to find landmarks, boundaries, corners, and flags. They can also use flags and other markings to delineate their properties. These professionals can take precise readings and produce a report that includes all the data needed for your records. (Source)

During a survey, survey markers are placed on the ground to demarcate the limits of a property. Your land surveyor may use the southwest and northeast corners as examples of where to place boundary markers. The surveyors also refer to the property’s legal description, which includes the measurements of the land.

How Accurate Is GIS Mapping?

The lines on maps are generally more reliable than the ones on the ground. However, they can be affected by various factors. For instance, if a subdivision build occurred in the last five years, the lines might be within five feet of the actual boundary. In historic and rural areas, someone might not have surveyed the borders in a long time. (Source)

Online regional maps with property lines
Online regional maps with property lines image credit GIS

Also, the boundaries of a property may have been mapped based on various assumptions, such as the location of fences and other physical landmarks. Nowadays, records and deeds are the most common methods of establishing boundaries. These files are then inspected to ensure that the unstable regions are remapped.

What Are Metal Detectors for Property Markers?

Many metal detectors sold or rented from local stores may be complicated. They won’t be able to penetrate deeply even with the optimal settings.

Metal detectors can often find things up to 8 inches deep. However, pins buried behind boulders or dense vegetation will go undetected. It is mainly the case in older areas, where property marks are often 6-15 inches thick.

Thus, can a metal detector find property markers? A specific locator is well-suited for locating security pins on buildings. It ought to be easy to deploy and effective at any depth. The manufacturer should also include the optimal configurations for it. A magnetic detector is a way to go if you want to locate your marks quickly.

Difference Of Metal Detectors to Magnetic Locators

Although metal detectors have a wide range of customization options, they are not ideal for commercial use. In contrast, people commonly use magnetic tools to find ferrous metals. However, the sensitivity of the magnetic device is not affected by the size or shape of the object. They have unusual characteristics.

For instance, a magnetic detector cannot provide the sensitivity that a traditional metal detector can. When activated, the gadget will produce noise to alert you whenever it detects something ferrous, such as iron or steel.

Unlike metal detectors, magnetic devices can find metals 6 to 10 inches below the ground. These devices are more functional and can cover a broader range of objects. The price of these devices is higher than that of metal detectors.

How Magnetic Locator Works?

Can a metal detector find property markers? Rather than a metal detector, we can use a magnetic sensor to help detect iron property marks. Its magnetic properties allow it to find various types of surveying pins.

It’s a metal detector that can find almost any type of metal. It has a broader range than your average detector and can detect different types of metal. (Source)

If you’re looking for a better detector, then look no further. This model comes with a built-in signal strength indicator, which will light up whenever you get close to something buried under the surface.


One of the essential steps in any real estate deal is determining your property’s boundaries. It will allow you to avoid potential border conflicts and minimize their costs. But sometimes, it’s easy to overlook something like property markers if you’re facing a big project – like building a house!

Avoid conflict with your neighbors by maintaining accurate property marks. If you do this, you’ll have the space to construct a fence, add a shed, or even replace the existing fence. Simple equipment, like a metal detector (or magnetic locator), and shovel, may help you save money.

Looking for some “How To” metal detecting articles? I’ve got you covered

David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.


  1. “What Can You Do About a Boundary Dispute With a Neighbor?” NOLO. Accessed October 7, 2022.
  2. “HOW TO LOCATE YOUR PROPERTY PINS / MARKERS.” White Bear Lake Department of Inspections. Accessed October 5, 2022.
  3. “Fencing Forms.” USA Fencing. Accessed October 5, 2022.
  4. “What is a geographic information system (GIS)?” USGS. Accessed October 5, 2022.
  5. “Surveying Markers & What They Mean.” SF Gate. May 24, 2021.
  6. “Frequently Asked Questions. ” Link GIS. Accessed October 6, 2022.
  7. “MAGNETIC LOCATOR VS. METAL DETECTOR.” Engineer Supply. Accessed October 5, 2022.
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