Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

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SteveHGraham
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Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by SteveHGraham » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:17 pm

I got a horrifying estimate ($5700) to wire my garage and shop for machinery. I have some kind of wiring running from the house to the shop, under the yard. I assumed it was conduit, but I just read that a lot of underground stuff is actually just cable.

I don't know where the wires are, and I have to run new ones.

My electrician's genius suggestion was to take my subsoiler and run a new slit from the garage to the house. He said that if I pulled up the old wires, it wouldn't matter, because we are running new ones. The problem with this approach is that the burglar alarm wires are also down there. I don't want to have to get new burglar alarm wiring. Also, it's just a stupid strategy.

I just read about 811. Supposedly, you can call 811, and your local utility or the government or someone will send a locator out to find and mark your underground wires, free of charge.

I am wondering if anyone here has used this service. It sounds like a great resource. I would like to use it, but I don't know if they would be willing to locate wires between buildings as well as wires from their system to the house's main panel.
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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warmstrong1955
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by warmstrong1955 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:10 pm

811 ‘Call Befor You Dig’ works here. My wife worked for a contactor, and used ‘em all the time.
We used it here once, when I added on to the shop, and we live out a ways.
They come out, whoever is required, and paint it up. And, it’s free. You just tell them where you live, and they will send out the appropriate utilitiy companes.
Today's solutions are tomorrow's problems.

John Hasler
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by John Hasler » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:22 am

They will locate wires put in by the utility companies for free. They may not be willing to locate your wire for you for free. You may want to call them before digging anyway if there is any chance at all that you could hit a power or phone cable, though. If you don't and you dig up a 100 pair phone cable you get to pay for the repairs. Your electrician should know this. He also should have his own locator.

Buy or rent an underground wire locator. And get a new electrician.

rrnut-2
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by rrnut-2 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:00 am

We had that happen here to a neighbor. The contractor didn't call "Dig Safe" 811, and pulled up a phone cable 3" in diameter. Turned out the cable was 10 feet from were the maps claimed it was. The cable was next to the foundation of the house and it cost him a lot of money.

I have mapped all of the lines that are on my property, but most of them I put in, except by the street and I don't dig there.

I have rented a cable locator before. I think I was $100 for the weekend, but it was well worth it.

Jim B

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SteveHGraham
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by SteveHGraham » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:28 pm

I am disappointed in the electrician. I suppose I should give the job to someone else.
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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SteveM
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by SteveM » Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:51 pm

rrnut-2 wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:00 am
Turned out the cable was 10 feet from were the maps claimed it was.
... it cost him a lot of money.
You'd think that the maker of the map would have some liability.

Steve

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liveaboard
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by liveaboard » Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:34 pm

Out here in Portugal there are no maps of lines and pipes!
Well, only pipes underground, wires are mostly overhead.
I hit a municipal water pipe that was only 2' down.
Found the emergency number on a water bill and called but they don't speak English. We managed to communicate anyway and they came over and fixed it. They were good, it was a Saturday evening.
I didn't have to pay but my yard was a mess.

When they dug up the main water line out in the street to change our water meter position, they had an 'old guy' who knew where the pipe was. One of the young guys spoke english and I asked him; "no map?"
Nope.
What happened when the old guy retires or dies?
"Then we have a problem!" he laughed.
I have underground cables all over my property; I'm the old guy. I suppose I should make a map.

Russ Hanscom
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by Russ Hanscom » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:03 pm

Typical rule in the US is if the buried object is more than a few feet from the mark, the digger gets a free pass if they hit it. I also determined by actual experience that not all local utilities respond to the Dig Alerts. I notified, they did not mark, I dug up a power cable, no charge.

Ken Schroeder
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by Ken Schroeder » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:45 pm

Years ago, before I moved to Nevada I was digging a post hole in my yard clear of the easement area. I dug up some aluminum foil and figured it was debris from when they filled in the yard and built the house. I dug through it and planted my pole. A little bit later my neighbor came over to ask if my phone worked and I told him it did. It turns out I dug through a large phone cable and the phone company spent the next 2 days in my backyard splicing cable and then replacing my new fence pole. When I asked why the line wasn't in the easement I was told that too many people would dig through the phone line putting up fences that they intentionally would place the lines outside the easement. Never received a bill. That was so long ago that I can't remember if there was a digs then or not.

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tornitore45
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by tornitore45 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 7:06 am

I was lucky, sank 4 posts 5' apart for a composting bin located in the corner of the backyard. Never thought the power line would come from that direction.
Years later call the "call before you dig" for another project.
The power line marking went straight through one side of the composting bin and out from an adjacent side, 90* turn in the middle.
Not so lucky the second time. Sharpen the old post digger. Pull out of the hole a 5" cleanly slice piece of coax. Asked neighbor: "Is your TV working?" Nope Fixed it myself w/o calling the company.
Mauro Gaetano
in Austin TX

Russ Hanscom
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by Russ Hanscom » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:43 am

A good post hole digger will also cut through a plastic gas line with ease, particularly when you have just cut through a bunch of roots and are putting a little extra effort into the post hole digger.

rrnut-2
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Re: Using 811 For Finding Underground Wires

Post by rrnut-2 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:56 am

About 15 years ago, I helped a friend of mine who was replacing his mobile home in a park with a new home. We had to dig up the water line to the shut off valve and replace it with a 1" line, original was 3/8" and run about 120 feet. So, I started digging with my backhoe very carefully and with permission from the Park. Everybody told me where the TV cable line and a few phones were buried. Nope, I found them. I have a Woods 750 (7.5ft digging depth) backhoe on my tractor and when we got to the valve, the hoe was straight down. The Park was redoing is sewer system, and one of the workers came over looked at the trench and hole at the valve and proceeded to tell me that they had a wonderful map of where everything was located in the Park. He said "too bad its science fiction"!

Jim B

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