Dig Safe, please!

I am a proponent of DIY projects. Many projects that were done at my house are “home-owner specials”.  The problem with some DIY projects is that they can be dangerous, especially to someone who is unskilled in a certain trade. Electric, gas, and other projects can end up in tragedy if the homeowner makes a mistake. People can be injured or even killed. It is always a good idea to ask a professional how he would do the job before getting started. This article talks about how we can approach plumbing and excavation in a safe manor. Take a minute to read this before going about your next digging project. Your life and your wallet may depend upon it.

Spring is here and everyone is going to be getting his or her outdoor projects started. If you are going to be doing any digging, then I suggest you call in a utility stake out. A utility stake out is simply when a company comes and locates all the buried utilities that are on your property. There a few reasons that this is important. Reason number one is that it is illegal to dig without a stakeout. The second reason is your safety. If you hit an electric line that you didn’t know was there, you will probably be fried. If you hit a gas line, your house could go up in flames. The third reason is that if you don’t call in a stake out, you are responsible for the cost of replacing anything you hit. If for some reason you hit a fiber optic line, the fines can be around one million dollars to repair.

You might say, “I don’t need a stake out; I’m just digging some small holes for my deck posts.” It is not worth the risk. Many times cable lines are buried 2-3 inches in the ground. The stakeouts are usually free of charge. They generally want you to call about 3-4 days before you start the job. In the state of New York there is a program called Dig Safe NY. They tell the companies to comes out and locates all their public utilities for free. They can be reached at (1-800-962-7962). It is possible that they might not mark private utilities, so you might need to check blueprints on your house for some utilities. For example, if you own a house and somebody ran electric from your house to your pole barn, they will not stake out that “private” electric line. Keep this in mind when digging.

Not all utility stakeouts are 100% accurate. There have been times we have hit unmarked electric trunk lines and blown up transformers. It is a miracle of God that we didn’t die. The utility stakeout company apologized up and down. One month ago we hit a main cable trunk line that was never marked. We called in three different stakeouts on the customer’s property and all three times the cable main was never once staked out. Digging can be extremely risky, and some digs near utilities should be left to professionals.

In closing, we hope you are more equipped to take on your digging projects this summer. Remember to think safety first. Try not to take on a project that is over your head, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Your favorite plumbers and excavators at Mark Porretta Excavating Inc. wish you a very productive year. We hope you get everything done that you have been putting off (the things your wife keeps telling you to get done). Happy digging everyone!

We were inches from breaking an unmarked cable trunk line. See it on the left, a 3 inch orange pipe.

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Dig Safe, Please!