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What do I need to know about digging around utilities?

project-preparation-layout-1.jpgUnfortunately, many public utility companies place their respective utilities on or near the property line in an effort to cost effectively branch from one consumer to the next and avoid any building structures.  However, most business and home owners insist on placing their fence along their property lines to capture all their property within the boundaries of their fence. 

Every project where we will disturb the earth requires utility locates through the One-Call system.   You will want to contact this agency and notify them of your intent and location to dig.  In turn, they will locate within a 36” (18” either side of the edge of the marks) boundary of the actual buried utility.  Each utility is located with specific color paint and/or flags. 

            Red                 Electricity

            Yellow             Gas

            Orange            Telephone

            Blue                Water

            Green              Storm or sewer

            Pink                Survey

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The One Call system will provide you with a locate number and time by which you can safely begin digging.  You should obtain this locate number from your contact person in preparation of the project.  The One-Call system will notify all utility providers in the area of your intentions.  In turn, these providers will locate their utilities within the area that you intend on digging in.  If you arrive on-site and see no utility marks, there is a good chance that the project was not properly located.  Again, contact the One Call system to assure the site was located. 

When laying out your fence line, you may encounter a utility locate mark(s).  Initially, you should make all attempts to install your fence without moving the fence line and infringing on the 36” boundary.  If this is not possible, you will have to gently probe for the utility, hand dig down a couple inches, then probe again.  Continue to repeat this process to the proper depth of the utility.  If digging around electrical or gas, it is strongly recommended to avoid these utilities all together and relocate the fence.

You should know that there is a considerable amount of risk digging around buried utilities.  People have lost their life while digging around electrical service lines with hand diggers.  Others have been permanently disabled and disfigured.   

 

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© 2018 The American Fence Company. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial use, copying or distribution is prohibited without express written permission from The American Fence Company.

© 2018 The American Fence Company. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial use, copying or distribution is prohibited without express written permission from The American Fence Company.