Locating and protecting utility lines while building or renovating your house.
Before starting excavation you must ensure that all underground services are known and have been clearly marked and pointed out to those doing the excavation.
The dangers of damaging utility lines during construction
Striking a utility cable or pipe can:
Locating utility lines before construction
Utility lines can be located by:
protecting utility lines while building and renovating houses
But it’s not just the existing lines that need protecting. Frequently workers dig up newly installed lines placed during construction. New lines must be clearly marked and protected.
Unfortunately, on occasion cables and pipes are damaged, but the damage isn’t reported, or the person doing the excavation isn’t aware they damaged the line. This could lead to an undetected fault which only becomes apparent much later. Electrical cables which have their outer casing damaged could fail months later when water enters the cable. Water pipes could leak for months, making for very expensive water bills, only becoming apparent when the ground becomes saturated. Sewer and stormwater pipes could become filled with sand which enters through holes broken in the pipe, blocking the pipe, or causing areas above the pipe to settle. Unfortunately when the problem eventually becomes apparent it’s often difficult to locate the exact location, and invariably the area has been paved over, or has a concrete slab above it, or is grassed and landscaped. Fixing the problem can be costly, so it’s vital that all existing and new cables and pipes are protected, and that workers exercise extreme care when digging around known lines, immediately reporting any concerns that they might have, or where they may have inadvertently caused damage to the cable or pipe.
But it’s not just underground lines we must be careful with. Overhead power cables can be extremely dangerous. Even equipment coming within a couple of metres (yards) of the line could cause the power to arc, or flash, between the cable and the equipment, damaging the equipment and possibly causing injury or death to the operator and bystanders. Be careful when carrying long ladders and objects under low overhead cables.
Always stay well clear of fallen power lines and notify the utility provider immediately a power pole or overhead cable is damaged.
Cables and pipes installed within the floors, walls and roofs of houses can easily be damaged by workers cutting and drilling. Countless almost completed houses have water pipes and power cables cut when fittings and fixtures are installed. These especially include when installing bathroom mirrors and towel rails. Not only is this dangerous, but it costs money to repair when tiles and walls have to be chopped open to fix the damage. Flooding from damaged water pipes can damage cupboards and floor finishes.
For more valuable tips and advice read: 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses - Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home' and 'Volume 2 Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home'
This is an extract from: 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses Volume 1' by Paul Netscher. Available in paper or eBook from Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Amazon AU and all online bookstores. To read more
© 2019 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.
16/5/2019 11:44:36 am
Nicely researched and presented. Thanks for delivering genuine information.
23/9/2019 05:00:43 am
Damaging lines is a serious issue that I'm glad you have shared here. Educating people is the key and you guys are doing a great job of that.
10/4/2020 04:25:48 pm
16/5/2020 09:53:09 pm
This is one of the best blog on locating and protecting utility lines while building or renovating your house. I enjoyed reading this article. It makes the work straight and easy for us. Great blog indeed will visit again in future to read more about it.
20/7/2020 09:01:32 pm
This is an explosive idea; this is most probably the best and most successful thing about locating and protecting utility lines while building or renovating your house. I love this blog and really happy to come across this exceptionally well written content. Thanks for sharing!!
15/9/2020 06:41:30 am
My aunt has been having a lot of problems with her pipeline and her water comes in slowly and it is really dirty when it does come in. She would really like to get a professional to look at the lines and utilities to see if there is anything that can be fixed or prevented. I liked what you said about how cables running over the home should also be protected because it can ave a flash or arc of power if there is anything in between it and can be really dangerous.
1/4/2021 12:55:51 pm
I appreciated it when you shared that cutting a gas pipe could set off an explosion while destroying an electrical cable can electrocute people. It is important to be careful when doing a home improvement project if it involves such items. I would like to think if an explosion occurs during the project, the responsible party needs to hire an expert to investigate the matter.
30/7/2021 04:32:12 am
It was really helpful when you said that you can cause an explosion if you cut a gas pipe. My husband and I want to look into renovating our landscape in a couple of weeks, and we wanted to learn more about running into cables. We'll have to look into hiring a cable locating service to help us with our renovation project!
7/9/2021 05:23:42 pm
Excellent Blog! I have been impressed by your thoughts and the way you put up the information. Protecting utility lines is always necessary when you just want to renovate parts of your home interior, paint your house or install a new roof. If pipes are not taken properly it can cause huge damage.
18/1/2022 08:43:52 am
You make a great point about renting out the right equipment for manholes. I need to get a construction crew to build my custom home. I'll have to hire someone with good online reviews.
29/6/2022 01:02:36 am
My friend is adding an extra room to his home and also needs to add another communication line. Thanks for explaining how the utility lines need to be located before construction. It would probably be best for him to hire a professional service that can check for the utilities that are currently there and find the best place to install and bury the communication line so it doesn't get in the way of anything else.
27/7/2022 08:05:46 am
It's great that this article talked that you should be aware that pipes and cables could not be in the same place, you should take care. My brother informed me a couple of days ago that he was looking for an underground electric trenching service for a more efficient operation for their upcoming trenching project, and he asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to consider. I love this enlightening article, I'll tell him that it will be much better if we consult a trusted trenching service as they can provide more information about the process.
5/1/2023 02:17:03 am
It was helpful when you said that experts will be able to detect utility lines. My husband and I want to start building a home on a plot of land we got a couple of months ago, so I was wondering how we can avoid hitting utility lines. We'll have to look into finding a utility line locator service.
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I’m a construction professional, author of several successful construction management books, and a home owner. I’ve made mistakes in construction management, I’ve seen others make mistakes, but importantly I’ve had multiple successful construction projects and I’ve learned from the mistakes. I want to share these lessons and my knowledge with you.
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