Depending on the municipality where you live, gas lines are buried 18 to 24 inches below the surface. This depth varies by state, county, or city. Because gas lines are not buried very deeply, it’s essential to know where the lines run before digging a drainage trench, a tree planting hole, or any other type of excavation. In the US or Canada, call 811 to have a utility professional come to your property to mark all utility lines, completely free of charge.
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How Deep Should a Gas Line Be Buried?
All gas lines should be installed by trained professionals only. Additionally, all gas lines must meet the local building code. In the United States, the correct depth for a gas line is either 18 or 24 inches deep. Whether the legally required depth is 18 or 24 inches depends on your local laws.
- Depending on the local laws, gas lines in the United States must be buried at a minimum depth of 18 or 24 inches.
- Check your local building code to determine the depth of gas lines in your area.
- New gas lines should only be installed by trained professionals.
Gas lines should not be buried at a shallower depth than is legally required. Gas lines that are too shallow are at risk of damage. Additionally, there is no reason to bury gas lines deeper than is legally required. Stick to the legal limits in your area to keep your family safe and to make servicing gas lines easy in case of an emergency.
What Happens if You Hit a Gas Pipe?
If you hit a gas line while digging, call 911 immediately. A damaged gas line leaks gas into the area, which can result in an explosion. Hissing, bubbling, or visible damage to a gas line are all causes for alarm. Emergency responders will assist to turn off the gas line and coordinate repairs.
- If you hit a gas line while digging and have any reason to believe it may be damaged, call 911 immediately.
- Visibly broken pipes, hissing sounds, or bubbling from a cracked pipe all indicate a broken gas line.
- Broken or damaged gas lines are at risk of causing dangerous explosions.
- A gas line that leaks into your home puts your family at risk of a serious medical emergency.
Cracking or breaking a gas line while digging can stop the flow of gas to your home appliances. Even worse, it can cause major property damage and health risks for your family. A broken gas line that leaks gas into your home creates a risk of explosion. Gas leaking into a home can cause nausea, vomiting, and headaches for anyone living there. So, it’s essential to act quickly to keep yourself, your family, and your property safe in the event of a gas leak.
Can You Break a Gas Line with a Shovel?
You can rupture a gas line by hand digging with a shovel. Although gas lines are made of sturdy plastic or metal, they are not immune to damage. Shovels and other hand tools are quite capable of breaking or damaging gas lines.
- Gas lines can be broken when digging with a shovel or other hand tool.
- Powerful excavation equipment, such as backhoes and skid-steers, are even more likely to rupture gas lines.
Although you are far more likely to damage a gas line when using high-powered excavating equipment, most tools can cause damage to service lines. Augers, post hole diggers, and mattocks are all capable of cracking or breaking deep gas lines.
How Do You Dig Around a Gas Line?
To dig around a gas line, first, you must determine where the gas lines and other utilities run on your property. You can have the utility lines marked on your property for free in the US and Canada by calling 811 or visiting call811.com. Within a few days of contact, a professional will be dispatched to your property to clearly mark the path of all utility lines. It is essential to use the 811 service before digging on your property.
- Before beginning any digging, call 811 in the US and Canada to have your utility lines marked by a professional.
- By calling 811, you will have your utilities marked within days, which makes it possible to plan a safe digging project.
- 811 is a free service, so it won’t cost anything to have your underground lines marked by a professional.
If your gas lines are not professionally marked, do not begin digging. Oftentimes, you will have to change your excavation plans after the utilities on your property are marked. So, it’s best to wait until they have been marked before you plan your project.
How Deep Can You Dig Before Calling 811?
Before you begin any project that will require digging deeper than 12 inches, call 811 to have your utilities marked. This means that you cannot begin work on a drainage trench, pool, pond, tree planting hole, garden bed, or foundation until your utilities are marked.
- Have your utility lines professionally marked before beginning any digging project that requires a depth greater than 12 inches.
- Planting a tree, building a garden, or digging a drainage trench all require you to call 811 before you begin digging.
It is essential to know where utility lines run before planting trees, bushes, and other plants with extensive root systems. A tree planted too close to a gas line can send out invasive roots that crack or destroy the gas line. So, even if you are digging a relatively shallow hole, it’s best to know exactly where your utility lines run.
How Close to a Gas Line Can You Dig?
Do not dig within 18 inches of a gas line or other underground utility line. Digging too close to a gas line contributes to loose, eroding soil. If the soil is not firmly packed around the gas line, there is a greater chance of breakage.
- Dig at least 18 inches away from all gas lines.
- Digging too close to a gas line can cause damage even if you do not hit the gas line directly.
- Plant small trees 5–10 feet away from gas lines.
- Large trees should be planted 20–30 feet away from underground gas lines.
When planting a small tree or bush, dig your planting hole 5–10 feet from the marked gas line. If you are planting a variety of tree that will grow to be very large (such as an oak, pine, or maple) then plant your tree 20–30 feet from the gas line. This will prevent invasive roots from damaging the gas line or making it difficult to service.
How Deep are Natural Gas Lines Typically Buried?
If you’re curious about the safety of digging near gas lines, keep these facts in mind:
- Gas lines are either buried 18 inches or 24 inches deep in the United States.
- The exact depth of the gas lines on your property is determined by local law.
- If you hit a gas line while digging, call 911 immediately.
- To prevent damaging deep gas lines, call 811 before you dig—your utilities will be marked for free when you use this service.
- Call 811 before beginning any digging project that exceeds 12 inches in depth.
- Do not dig within 18 inches of an underground gas line.
By contacting the 811 service in the United States and Canada, you can have the path of your gas lines marked free of charge. When you have such a helpful service available for free, there’s never a need to dig without knowing where your gas lines are located.