Out of sight out of mind is the best term to explain why many people forget to check the underground utilities in areas where they want to excavate. Underground utilities are important as it is the means to deliver services to businesses and residential homes such as water, electricity, gas, and sewer lines.

How To Mark Underground Utilities Before Excavation?

Data indicates underground utility lines across the nation are damaged every six minutes. This means a lot of money and time that have to be put in to fix the damages. Fixing damaged underground utility lines can be a very lengthy process depending on the severity of the damage. In some areas, there aren’t enough people to fix underground utility issues, which results in repairs taking longer than expected.

What Happens If Underground Utilities Are Damaged

When excavation is done without following the correct steps, it can lead to underground utilities being damaged. This can be a headache for any homeowner or contractor. There is high importance for buried utility lines as they are not just going to one single home or business. Underground utility lines are typically connected to service a larger area of connected homes and businesses.

Depending on the level of damage, the cost to fix damaged utility lines can be really expensive, and the cost usually falls onto the individuals involved in damaging the utilities. It is important that damages are fixed quickly because of the number of people that the services along the lines are going to. Therefore, if you damage a utility line, you may not just have an expensive bill, but irritated neighbors too!

Lastly, damaging utility lines slows down projects. If utility lines are damaged, the project will have to wait until all the underground utilities are back in working condition. This can cost time and money for contractors who are on the clock.

Start With The 811

811 is the contact number that homeowners and contractors must call before any digging/excavation can take place. When you contact 811, you will be directed to the call center in the US. You will then need to provide information about where you would like to excavate and the type of work you will be carrying out.

The operator will then notify utility companies that are in the area about where the project will be carried out. A locater will be sent out in two to three business days to provide approximate locations of where underground utility lines can be found.

811 call centers can also provide contractors and employees with safe digging training. This is a good resource to have, as state laws are still subject to changes. Call centers will have the most recent information regarding any changes in laws, as well as how to dig safely.

Unfortunately, most contractors are aware of 811, while homeowners are not. This increases the risks of damages to the utility lines by individuals wanting to take on the projects around their home or business themselves.

Use Place Markers

After 811 provides assistance with regard to the location of the utility lines, it is time to place markers in the specified areas. However, it is not just putting place markers into the ground that needs to be done. There should also be a detailed plan or drawing showing the direction and the width of the underground utilities. This will help the excavators know exactly where they should not be digging.

Color Code Marking for Underground Utilities (American Public Works Association):

  • Red: Electric
  • Yellow: Gas, oil, steam, propane
  • Orange: Communication, CATV, fiber.
  • Blue: Water
  • Green: Sewer

Gathering as many details as possible will help the contractor or homeowner plan more effectively without any interruptions. Those responsible for planning the spots to dig should make use of as many bright place markers as possible. This will help the individual operating the excavator to see the markets from the driver’s seat. Bright place markers will also help the other employees assisting with the excavation process as well.

Additional Information: Construction Industry – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

PSC Construction Omaha

Excavating | Site Development and Preparation |Underground Utilities | Location Mapping & Hydro-Excavation

PSC Construction in Omaha provides a full range of services, performed according to your specifications. Regardless of the complexity of the project, the scope, or the timeline, PSC Construction ensures you have the foundation you need to safely and successfully move forward. Contact PSC Construction today to see why we’re one of the most trusted resources for location mapping and hydro-excavation, underground utilities, site development and preparation, and excavation in Omaha.