When digging, a few things are more critical than ensuring that you won’t do any long-term damage to your home’s structural stability, which includes hitting a gas pipeline.
If you dig too far and stumble across a gas pipeline or while doing anything else in your yard, you can cause a gas leak that isn’t noticeable to begin with. Such an occurrence can be hazardous and costly.
Electrical cables can differ, as these are physical beings, and hitting them may not cause any harm unless you cut through them. Sewer lines are another, and while it can cause a mess, a fractured sewer line isn’t too harmful.
With some foresight, you’ll know how deep all these amenities are, especially how deep gas lines are buried around your home. (Learn How Tight Should Toilet Tank Bolts Be)
In the USA, all utility companies require gas, electrical, and phone lines to be located before any excavation, which can be required before removing or planting trees or installing fence posts.
Gas lines must be buried a minimum of 24 inches below ground level; however, this depth varies by region. Call 811 ahead of time to get any utility lines marked if you plan to dig holes or trenches.
This will help to avoid errors that could disrupt the public utility supply or result in accidents. Before starting work on pipes that operate at least two bars of pressure, the Health and Safety Executive suggests contacting the pipeline operator for more information.
In our guide, you can learn much more about the gas line depth around your home; you’ll see how far down are gas lines buried and who to contact before you dig. Likewise, what to do should you accidentally hit a gas pipe.
By the end, you’ll be armed with further information before digging or doing any other work that could harm any natural gas or smaller lines such as propane pipes running to your home.
How Deep Should a Residential Gas Line Be Buried?
Service lines are usually found at least 18 inches deep, whereas main lines are usually at least 24 inches deep. Remember that existing grades might shift, and an electric or natural gas line’s current depth may differ from when it was originally installed.
A metal gas line several feet below the surface should be generally found with ease, and any buried facilities are this deep, if not deeper.
Apart from the stated depth, service lines must be manufactured of polyethylene pipe with a minimum depth of 24 inches. (Learn How To Repair Drywall Tape On Textured Ceiling)
How Deep Are Gas Lines?
The answer to this question is bound to be influenced by your current location. According to California laws, all lines must be buried at least 18 inches below ground level.
In contrast, manuals offered by companies in New York City and New Jersey specify wires should be buried at least 24 inches below ground level and provided with ample protection.
There is also a lot of variances in the depth of gas lines from country to country. Gas lines must be buried at a depth of 28 inches on a road or verge, 23 inches on a footpath, 14 inches in private ground, and 16 inches in footpaths and highways, according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.
Those different locations have varying requirements for how deep gas lines must hint at another key point: different urban and household regions have varied requirements for how deep gas lines must be.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, mechanically powered excavating devices should not be used within 20 inches of a pipe or electricity cable.
With buried facilities, main lines in commercial areas are buried much deeper than those on private property. A propane gas service is a good example compared to a natural gas line running down a street.
US gas lines you’ll find are shallower the closer the gas lines are to private property.
What Happens If I Hit a Gas Line?
If you strike a gas line, you must report it right away. In the United States, you must contact your state’s gas line hotline. (Learn How Long Does It Take For Concrete To Cure)
It can be costly as well as dangerous to strike a gas line and fail to notify it. Fines could be a minimum of $4,000 to $10,000 in Kentucky and Washington and potentially around $50,000 in California.
All this doesn’t include expenses of labor and materials for fixing the damaged pipe underground.
Here are a few reasons to call 811 before you dig in your yard so you can have gas, electrical, or other utility lines marked on your property.
- Digging fence post holes
- Digging for a garden pond
- Digging for garage or shed foundations
- Installing garden irrigation, or deep drainage lines
If a leak isn’t fixed, you’ll find that problems happen as natural gas is lighter than air, yet propane is heavier and will build up in low areas before ignition.
Utility Lines That Require Marking Before You Dig
Some utilities, including security systems, landscape lighting cables and systems, lawn irrigation systems, and other utilities installed by private businesses, are not marked by the call before you dig service.
It’s also worth noting that 811 only identifies utility lines up to where they connect to a home. If the lines remain underground, 811 will consider them yours rather than theirs. The following is a list of utility lines that are commonly designated with 811:
- Natural gas pipes
- Electric service wires
- Water and sewer mains
- Internet, telephone, and cable tv wires
How To Locate Utility Lines By Yourself
It’s difficult to find utility lines on your own, and there’s a good risk you’ll fail. Utility lines are buried at various depths, and these lines are not always well identified.
However, finding these connections on your own is sometimes doable, though we do not suggest it. Finding utility lines is as simple as determining where they begin and stop, then plotting a route between those two sites.
To find a gas line, for example, mark the spot where the pipe enters your house from the street. Next, determine where your house’s gas lines are linked and draw a straight line connecting the two spots.
Never try to locate a utility line by probing the earth, since this can be harmful and costly in the long run. Because this method is not conclusive and the 811-marking service is free, it is a good idea to call 811 to double-check before you dig.
How ‘Call Before You Dig’ Marking System Works
Since 2005, call 811 before digging. With this number, regional services can find underground public utilities around the country.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the process:
- Call 811 at least three days before you plan to dig; this timescale may differ according to your location.
- Your call is forwarded to a central call center, where you will be questioned about your excavation job. The call agent then contacts any public utilities that may be affected by your digging and requests that they come out and mark utility lines.
- After that, the utility company sends employees to your location to designate underground utility pipes or wires with paint or flags. Color codes reflect distinct utilities on these ground markings:
Colored ground markings:
- White: Proposed excavation
- Red: Electric lines
- Yellow: natural gas, oil, steam
- Green: Sewer line
- Pink: Survey markings
- Purple: irrigation and reclaimed water
- Orange: alarms and communications
- Blue: Potable water
It is recommended to use 811 marks, yet they are only valid for a month. Before you dig, mark all utilities, and if you postpone your project for a month, phone 811 to restart the procedure.
However, the free utility location service has significant limits. The service does not coordinate the marking of private utilities. If you wish to find private underground wires or pipes, you may have to pay a charge.
Key Points For Digging Around Installed Utility Lines
Knowing the depth of different utility lines before you start digging will help you avoid them. Water pipes are buried about 12 inches deep, but some are buried an extra 12 inches below the frost line. Phone and cable lines are buried about 12 inches deep. Natural gas and electric pipes have been buried to a depth of at least 24 inches. (Learn How To Remove Paint From Brick)
Once the utility lines have been identified for you, keep a distance of about 15 inches on either side of the lines. This is because the devices used to detect utility lines are not 100 percent accurate.
If you purchased a home with existing utility lines and don’t know where they are, it’s a good idea to hire a private finding business. This will allow you to detect utility lines and schedule your tasks accordingly.
Digging should be done carefully and gently to protect any lines that have not been recognized for marking.
Regulations for services on your land vary; typically, electricity and gas lines are 24 inches; water pipes vary based on climate but are usually a minimum of 12 inches and 12 inches below the anticipated frost depth. 12′′ cable and phone
Sewer lines do not freeze, even in extremely cold areas, but they must have a slope, so the depth varies greatly, and the depth also relies on the depth of the street sewer. Most plumbers have equipment that allows them to find house sewers and record their depth at regular intervals.
Because landscaping frequently changes the slope above the services from the initial installation depth, you can’t rely on any regulated depth.
Before any excavation, all utility companies in the United States require that gas, electrical, and phone lines be located. You can reach the utility locating service by dialing 811 from anywhere in the United States. There is no payment for this service.
Many homeowners are ignorant of this and often cause damage to utility lines when excavating for fence posts and planting trees.
Finally, there are drilling methods that can make a significant impact on the procedure. Horizontal drilling techniques, as recommended by OSHA, are one of the most significant game-changers here. This method is exactly what it sounds like: it involves drilling horizontally rather than vertically through the surface in question.
The advantages in terms of safety should be obvious. You eliminate the possibility of going straight down and hitting a pipeline by drilling this manner.
As a result, you’ll have more freedom to operate without the danger of hitting something. There are a lot of standards and regulations to follow, no matter how you start digging.
Whatever the project, the process to answer where pipes are typically buried and installed, is there for a reason before digging.
Just remember that all the depths listed here are just what is typical and can vary based on what your home, yard, and surrounding area are like.
Before you begin, get the correct answer and be sure where your gas pipe line sits, and it is a few feet under the ground.