So you want to do some digging around your house? Most people don’t consider things like planting flowers or pulling up shrubs as being excavations (they see projects like what is pictured and big equipment) or they don’t consider such activities as posing any kind of risk. Other than sunburn or a back ache, that is. But if your house has natural gas, or if your electrical service is underground, you might be putting yourself and your family at considerable risk. August 11th was national Call 811 day, bringing awareness to this very topic.
The first step in any home excavation project is to call Miss Utility at 811 and tell them where the work will be taking place. You will also need to tell them what kind of work you will be doing and give them a contact phone number. If you have pets that might be outside or in a secured fence of some kind, make sure that someone will be able to give the locators access or take care of the pets. Then you will need to wait for three days until the ticket clears and the locators have been out to your project site and marked all of the underground utilities. The operator at Miss Utility will let you know what day your ticket will clear.
After the locators come, take a look at the paint markings around where you will be working. Yellow paint is natural gas, red paint is electricity, green is for sewer, and blue is for water. Chances are, there will probably not be any blue or green paint next to your house. If you have paint going right through where you want to excavate, you will have to carefully hand dig around the marks and locate the utility lines before you start to work. It sounds crazy, but you can easily cut into a plastic gas line with a shovel, especially if you have a bunch of roots where you are digging. Once you visually spot the lines in your area, you can start the work. Remember that the law says that you can’t use mechanized equipment within 2 feet of an underground utility, so plan accordingly!
When you are done with the work, be sure to backfill under the utilities that you exposed very carefully. Take the time to compact the material underneath them to give them support when you put the rest of the material in the hole.
You can get all of the basic info that you need at www.va811.com.