|Call Before You Dig||Wait the Required Time||Confirm Utility Response||Respect the Marks||Dig With Care||Etc.|
This page covers two topics - the "I thought nothing was there" syndrome, and the issue of homeowner-owned services.
In our studies about damages, it comes as no surprise the number one reason for facility hits is the failure to call for a stake-out. What will surprise you, however, is that a large percentage of these damages were caused by an excavator who knew about Dig|Safely. New York, but didn't call because "there was no way anything could be there," or "the facility was supposed to be over THERE!"
While these two reasons for not calling are completely different, they do have one very big thing in common. Clearly, somebody's memory was... well, "incorrect." Many gas, electric, and phone lines have been hit because the "expert" didn't quite know where they were, or thought they were not even there at all... this mistake is sometimes fatal, and is always expensive.
It doesn't even matter if you live in the boondocks... it was quite surprising to learn that a large number of the above hits were out in the middle of nowhere at an old "abandoned" field, a back-lawn where the electric and phone lines were up on poles, a cabin with no phone or power at all. If you think about the amount of things that were buried back in the '50s, that was 50 years ago... how many people are actually going to remember if one of those things is around, and know exactly where it is?
Another result of our damage studies deals with "privately owned" facilities, most typically service lines and such. There is little doubt as to who owns a buried electric or water main that runs under a street. But what about the service line that feeds the house? Unfortunately, there is no "straight" answer to this question. It varies by utility, it varies by place, and it varies by the person you ask.
The issue, then, comes down to this - when you make a stake-out request, the facility operators are required to come and mark out their lines. They are not required to mark out each other's, and they are not required to mark out yours. If you happen to own the water pipe that connects you to the main under the street, there's a possibility that it won't get marked. The same is true for telephone services, and many others.
Now, before anyone panics, I should point out many of the people who perform the stake-outs will go out of their way to mark up any service lines they find. But, it's important to stress, unless they own it, they are not required to mark the lines. It's also important to stress you should always find out if the service lines were marked, for each utility owner involved. If they weren't marked, and if you own them, you are responsible for having them located prior to the excavation. After all, they are yours.
If needed, we've compiled a list of several private locating companies available for hire.