Last Updated on August 14, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas
Gas lines are typically buried between 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) deep in residential areas. However, depths can vary based on local regulations and soil conditions. Always contact your local utility company before digging to ensure safety and prevent accidental damage to gas lines.
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How deep are gas lines buried?
Gas lines are buried at varying depths depending on factors such as location, local regulations, soil type, and climate. Here’s a detailed overview of how deep gas lines are typically buried and the factors that influence their depth:
Typical Burial Depths:
In residential areas, gas lines are commonly buried at depths ranging from 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) below the ground surface. This depth provides a balance between protecting the gas lines from accidental damage and allowing for relatively easy access during maintenance or repairs. However, specific depths can vary based on the following factors:
Factors Influencing Depth:
- Local Regulations: Gas line burial depths are often governed by local building codes and regulations. These codes aim to ensure safety and prevent accidents.
- Soil Type: The type of soil in the area plays a role in determining the depth. In softer soils, gas lines may need to be buried deeper to prevent movement or shifting due to erosion.
- Climate and Frost Line: In regions with colder climates, gas lines may need to be buried deeper to reach below the frost line. This prevents freezing temperatures from affecting the gas lines.
- Type of Gas Line: The type of gas being transported can also influence burial depth. Higher-pressure gas lines might require deeper burial for safety reasons.
- Proximity to Structures: Gas lines near buildings or other structures might be buried deeper to provide additional protection and prevent accidental damage during construction or landscaping.
- Utility Company Policies: Utility companies may have specific guidelines for gas line installation and burial depths. Always consult with your local utility company before any digging or construction work.
When To Call 811 For Utility Marking
Here are some of the reasons you should call 811 before you dig in your yard for them to come and mark any gas or utility lines:
- When digging post holes for putting up a fence
- Creating your garden pond
- Digging foundations for a garage or shed
- Installing irrigation systems or drainage lines
Utility Lines That Require Marking Before You Dig
The call before you dig service does not mark some utilities such as security systems, landscape lighting wires and systems, lawn irrigation systems, and other utilities that were installed by private companies. It is also important to note that 811 only marks utility lines up to the initial connection point to a home. If these lines continue underground, 811 considers them your property and not theirs. Here’s a list of utility lines that are usually marked by 811:
- Natural gas pipes
- Internet and cable tv wires
- Electric service wires
- Water and sewer mains
- Telephone service wires
How To Find Utility Lines By Yourself
Finding utility lines by yourself is challenging and comes with high chances of failure. Different utility lines are buried at different depths, and sometimes, these lines are not marked. However, sometimes it is possible to find these lines by yourself though we do not recommend it. The easiest way to find utility lines is to find out where they start and end and then find a route between those two points. For example, to locate a gas line, mark where the pipe joins your house from the street and mark this point. Next, find where the gas lines are connected to your house and figure out a straight line between these two points. Never try to probe the ground to find a utility line as it might be dangerous and costly in the long run. It is wise to call 811 to countercheck before you dig since this method is not conclusive, and the 811 marking service is free of charge.
How the ‘Call Before You Dig’ Marking System Works
811 has been the number to call before you start any digging since 2005. The U.S. federal government set up this number to alert regional services that locate underground public utilities throughout the country. In New England, this service is referred to as digging safe while in all other areas; it is known as ‘call before you dig.’ Here’s a detailed step by step insight into how the process works:
1. Call 811 at least three days before when you want to dig/ this lead time may vary according to your region
2. Your call is directed to a central call center, and you are asked questions regarding the nature of your digging project. The call agent then reaches out and informs any public utility that might be affected by your digging to come and mark utility lines.
3. The utility company then sends workers to come to your facility and mark underground utility pipes or wires using either paint or flags. These markings have color codes that represent different utilities:
1. White: Proposed excavation
2. Green: Sewer line
3. Pink: Survey markings
4. Purple: irrigation and reclaimed water
5. Orange: alarms and communications
6. Red: Electric lines
7. Yellow: natural gas, oil, steam
8. Blue: Potable water
4. 811 markings are valid for one month since this paint may wash off over time. Ensure that all utilities are marked before you start digging. If for some reason, you delay your project for a month, it is advisable to call 811 to have the process repeated.
The free utility location service is amazing and free, but it also has some limitations. This service only marks utilities up to their initial point of entry. The service doesn’t coordinate the marking of utilities that were installed by private companies. In case you want to locate underground cables or pipes installed by a private company, you may have to call the company and part with a fee.
Key Points To Note When Digging Around Utility Lines
1. It is helpful to know the depth of different utility lines before digging so you can avoid them. For phone and cable lines, they are buried about 12 inches deep, water pipes are buried about 12 inches deep, but some are buried an extra 12 inches below the frost line. Natural gas and electric pipes have buried a minimum of 24 inches deep.
2. Once utility lines are marked for you, it is advisable to keep a distance of about 15 inches from either side of the marked lines. This is because the gadgets used to detect utility lines are not 100% precise
3. In case you bought a home with existing utility lines and you don’t know their exact location, it is advisable to contact a private locating company. This will help you pinpoint the exact location of utility lines and plan your projects around that.
4. Be careful when digging and do it slowly to protect any lines that were not identified for marking.
How can I safely dig around gas lines?
Safely digging around gas lines requires careful planning, proper tools, and adherence to safety guidelines. Here’s a detailed guide on how to dig safely around gas lines:
1. Obtain Information:
- Contact your local utility company or authorities before digging to identify the location of gas lines. They will mark the lines to help you avoid them.
2. Gather Necessary Tools:
- Use hand tools like shovels, post-hole diggers, and trowels for more precise and controlled digging.
- Avoid power equipment, which poses a higher risk of accidental damage to gas lines.
3. Plan Your Work:
- Plan the area you intend to dig, avoiding any marked gas line locations.
- Consider the depth of your planned excavation and any potential obstructions.
4. Mark the Dig Area:
- Clearly mark the area you intend to dig using flags or stakes. This will help you stay within the designated zone and avoid accidentally digging near gas lines.
5. Dig Safely:
- Begin digging carefully and slowly, starting at the edges of your marked area.
- Avoid using excessive force or sudden movements to prevent accidental penetration of gas lines.
6. Visual Inspection:
- As you dig, visually inspect the soil for any signs of gas lines, such as pipes or fittings.
- If you notice anything that resembles a gas line, stop digging immediately and contact your utility company.
7. Hand Excavation:
- When you approach the approximate depth where gas lines are located, switch to manual hand excavation.
- Gently and slowly remove soil with hand tools to expose the gas lines while minimizing the risk of damage.
8. Exposing the Gas Line:
- Once you’ve exposed the gas line, avoid direct contact or any action that might damage it.
- Use care and precision when working in close proximity to the line.
9. Re-Fill Carefully:
- When your work is complete, backfill the excavation area gently and avoid packing soil too tightly, which could cause pressure on the gas line.
10. Verify and Monitor:
- After backfilling, ensure the ground is restored to its original state.
- Monitor the area for any changes or signs of gas leakage, such as unusual smells or hissing sounds.
11. Professional Help:
- If you’re uncertain about digging around gas lines or encounter any issues, contact professionals or your utility company for guidance.
12. Follow Local Regulations:
- Adhere to local building codes and regulations related to digging near gas lines.
13. Emergency Preparedness:
- Familiarize yourself with emergency protocols in case of a gas leak, such as evacuating the area and contacting emergency services.
There are millions of underground utility lines in our yards, and we need to be extra careful when we dig to avoid accidents or explosions. Knowing their exact location and depth is crucial in ensuring we are safe. Ensure you call before you dig to ensure you don’t cut out public utility supply. We hope this information was enlightening and helpful to you.
Emma is a graduate of Domestic Science or Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Economics) from the University of Wisconsin. She has 7 years of experience Working with the strategic section of BestBuy and now writing full-time for Homeeon.
From Managing the Home, Interiors, Cleaning, and Exteriors to Gardening and everything about Making A Home Liveable – is her passion and this Homeeon is the result of this.
Emma loves decorating her home with the best stuff found online. She cares about quality over anything and writes reviews about them here in Homeeon. Get in touch with her over Pinterest.
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