Last week we talked about how underground utility locators generally work to locate only those utilities that belong to them, while ignoring the lines that run from the meter to your house. If you need a refresher, click here to read that blog.
A lot of people wonder what to do about the flags if no work is apparently being done. If a month passes with no work being done, call 811. Give the agent who answers the phone your address. He or she will be able to give you a definitive answer on what’s going on.
We know that mowing around these flags can be irritating, and they probably don’t do much to help the curb appeal of your house – but they are there for a number of reasons, including keeping a small job from becoming a big job if a gas line, water main, electric or telecommunications line is cut by accident.
We have a saying in 811 – “respect the marks.” That applies not only to excavators, but to you as well.
So – it’s time to talk about YOUR lines. For most homeowners, electric service is the easiest to spot. It comes in overhead from a pole in the side yard or an alley, stretches over your yard and enters your house through the weatherhead projecting from the roof.
Here’s a picture of a typical overhead entry:
However, your electric can also be buried, running from a pedestal to your house, where it will enter your electric service panel box. If this is the case, that buried electrical line may belong to you – or may belong to the provider. Check with your provider to make sure.
Here’s a picture of a typical pedestal.
Your water service is always going to be buried, as is your gas. Again, you’re looking for the location of the gas or water meter. If the meter is near the curb, in a detached garage, or in the alley, the line from the meter to the house is yours. If the meter is right next to the house, the line belongs to the utility until it reaches the meter, no matter how much of your yard it’s traversing.
Telecommunications generally follows the same rule as electric. It’s either overhead or buried.
Don’t forget the buried sewer lines from your house that connect to city service sewers. Those lines are called laterals, and they are also yours.
The one thing ALL of these utilities have in common is the old Pottery Barn retail rule: you break it, you buy it. It’s expensive enough replacing a worn supply pipe, but replacing or repairing one that got cut or broken (while you’re paying to fix something else) because it wasn’t marked is just insult to injury.
So, you’ve done your due diligence and made the call to 811 before having a water line replaced to your house. Flags or spray paint mark the area near the water meter to show the location of other buried utilities, but the flags don’t continue up into the yard. Why? Because they are your lines at that point. Then why did I bother to call 811, you ask?
Your call and subsequent locating gives your plumber a head start. He or she now knows the approximate location/direction of other buried utilities that could possibly interfere with their job. We might also add that calling 811 before a dig is the law in Texas.
The plumber, contractor, excavator – whomever is doing the job – will now sweep your yard work area with their own locating equipment and flag YOUR lines.
If they don’t do this, you need a new plumber, contractor or excavator.
Until next week, safe digging!