Are you planning on installing your own fence? If so, these three numbers will make all the difference. Nationwide an underground utility line is damaged every six seconds! Homeowners and contractors both often make the dreaded mistake of not calling 811 before digging into the ground. Penetrating the ground before you know where utility lines are can be life threatening, very costly, and can cause massive disruptions to the operation of your home!
When Installing Your Own Fence, Never Assume You Know Where Utility Lines Are!
Utility lines are everywhere, and you would be surprised at the amount that run across your yard. In the United States alone there are millions of miles of underground utility wires. That breaks down to about a football fields worth per home.
Always Call 811 When Installing Your Own Fence!
Dialing 811 is the easiest way to eliminate any risk and will keep you and your neighbors safe. The Common Ground Alliance reports that by calling before you dig you have less than a 1% chance of striking a buried cable or utility pipe. They recommend calling 811 ANY time you need to go underground even for things as simple as installing a mailbox. Many homeowners also commonly fail to think about buried cable and piping when installing water features as well. Buried cables are often times barely under the surface of the ground.
Despite this valuable information, homeowners will still dig without making the call.
What to expect when you call 811.
To make sure that you have enough time to receive all of the necessary information make the call a few days beforehand. Once you make the initial call you will be re-routed to a local call center for your area. You will then be contacted by a local representative. If your local office is back logged it may take 24-48 hours before you get a return call.
The representative will then send out a request to each pertinent utility company for your property to mark their underground cables and pipes. This could also take a day or two so make the call ahead of time.
By visiting the Common Ground Alliance website, you can view your state and local map to get an average on how far in advance you need to call.
Just be patient even if it takes longer than you expected.
What Can Happen if You Hit a Buried Utility Line While Installing Your Own Fence
The first type of cable that you can hit is an electrical cable. Depending on the voltage a shock from one of these lines could be fatal. There have also been instances where fires have started as a result of sparks from the initial contact.
Digging without markers can also lead to you hitting a gas line which can also be fatal. Noxious gas and can be released into your home and your neighbors. And if these gases come into contact with something flammable explosions and fires can occur.
Other not so hazardous lines may not be dangerous but can disrupt electricity, cable, internet, etc. It is likely that you can be charged repair fees if you are at fault.
Therefore… As a reminder from your friends at RMFP, ALWAYS call 811 before digging! It is a quick, free, and easy way to prevent injury or fatality!