Landscaping

How to Handle Cut Utility Lines while Landscaping


Mistakes Happen

The project that we’re working on is this townhome complex behind me. We’ve got about 18,000 square feet of shade tolerant discovery Bermuda sod going in behind these town home units. The entire length of these buildings is about 1100ft long and this project is presented a number of problems. I want to talk specifically about utilities. All of the cable, gas, power everything runs right behind these buildings.  Tight down the center is the main gas line.  We’ve obviously located everything, but we have still had a number of lines get cut.  We’re hand digging drainage from all of these buildings, every downspout, every air conditioning unit, all the condensate line surface basins. We’re hand digging it into a series of storm basins that are already in place and we’re going to be putting wraps around each of the storm basins.

The Unavoidable

This project we have had cut utilities which I would consider unavoidable.  The white wires behind me are cable lines from Home Depot. Some of them are 50ft long and some are 100ft long.  We don’t want to inconvenience people. If you’ve cut a cable line one, of the fastest easiest ways to repair it is to do a temporary field repair. What we do is open the cable box where all the main cable lines come in.  If you open up that panel, you can connect in this temporary line.

We have it run on our grass and we connect them directly to the house. There are no splices, so we don’t have to sit there in the field and use special tools. We just unscrew that and screw that in and then we make this temporary connection. I call it temporary because the homeowner is still going to have to call in the repair. But this gets their internet up and running right away, and it’s a nice way to not make people mad and to get it fixed very quickly for them.

We have it run on our grass and we connect them directly to the house. There are no splices, so we don’t have to sit there in the field and use special tools. We just unscrew that and screw that in and then we make this temporary connection. I call it temporary because the homeowner is still going to have to call in the repair. But this gets their internet up and running right away, and it’s a nice way to not make people mad and to get it fixed very quickly for them. Usually, people are pretty appreciative of this.

Gas Line Problems

I was actually out here the other day and we cut into the main gas line. It was clearly marked there was a stump right on top of it and we were working very carefully to remove it. It was wrapped around the line, so as the stump was coming out, up came the gas line. The fire department came out here took about three hours to make the repair. When I came out, what I was proud of is that we have our policy in place. We call 911 right away. The crew knows that we call in 811 we give them our locate number.  They issue an emergency ticket for us. All the processes were in place to handle this by the book, and we handle it the right way. Our I’s were dotted our T’s were crossed, so we did it the right way.

Another Gas Problem

So the funny thing is I came out yesterday and I was about to make a video that was talking about that process.  So as I started to make that video, we cut another gas line with a shovel.  That one was fairly well marked, but we were digging very slowly knowing the gas line was there and yet the shovel put a tiny hole in it. Which again we call 911 and the fire department comes out.  They issue another emergency ticket number related to that case.

So, when you’re doing this kind of work make sure you’ve got everything documented. Make sure all your ticket numbers are in one place.  Make sure your crew knows what to do when something gets broken. When you’re working on townhomes with this many lines in the way, accidents are going to happen. Do your very best to work with people like installing temporary lines. Be very professional and courteous.  It goes a long way to help people understand that these inconveniences are going to be worth it because in the end this sod and this drainage is going to look great and it’s going to work perfectly.


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