View Full Version : Cut a cable today........

03-31-2010, 11:12 PM
I cut some kinda of cable looks like a telephone maybe today while digging ... I should have called to have stuff marked but i didnt because it wasnt much. It was after 5 so im going to call them in the morning ...hopefully they dont fine me. Have any of you guys done this before when you havent had them flag the stuff??? How much should I expect to have to shell out?

03-31-2010, 11:42 PM
Here are the steps:

1. ALWAYS call Miss Utility before digging, even if the area is small, even if
there is absolutely guaranteed no wires in the area.

2. When you cut a cable, ALWAYS inform the customer right away!
This allows you and the customer to figure out which utility it is.
IF the customer isn't home, either leave a note or a message.
If you forgot to do it, get to it tomorrow, do not call a customer past 9pm or before 9am.

3. Last but not least, see if you can have them call the utility.

They don't normally fine, to my understanding.
But you're lucky it wasn't a power main.

On another note I learned this same as you, then I also had to listen to that above lecture.

03-31-2010, 11:47 PM
we always call utility locates, but when i am at a property i have located like 30 times b4, i know there is nothing on certain areas of a lawn already, but that is the only exception

03-31-2010, 11:53 PM
I cut some kinda of cable looks like a telephone maybe today while digging ... I should have called to have stuff marked but i didnt because it wasnt much. It was after 5 so im going to call them in the morning ...hopefully they dont fine me. Have any of you guys done this before when you havent had them flag the stuff??? How much should I expect to have to shell out?

UM....Are you sitting down? This could be bad. First you have admitted to not calling the mark outs. Not a good thing. But looking forward, I can tell you it may be very to be expensive. I work for the utility where I live and have seen this too many times before. Hopefully it is just a simple house service and not a big deal. But if its a truck line (Big Cable) than it can cost many thousands to repair.

First, save yourself the aggravation of trying insurance. They will deny you any coverage since you did not call for the mark out.

Second, I would recommend that you call the utility at the earliest opportunity. Some utilities will charge you for the customers done time. The longer it takes the utility to find the problem, the more you may pay.

Third, I would talk to a rep from the company thats cable was damaged. Try to find out if there is going to be repercussions. Sometimes they just let is slide as its not worth going after the person, and sometimes they will drop the hammer on you.

I dont want to scare you, just prepare you. I have seen many times where an individual has cut a small cable and the utility just fixes it at no cost. I have also seen people go bankrupt after hitting main power lines and leaving an entire community in the dark for 7 hours on july 4th weekend.

What ever the out come, please PLEASE call for mark outs. They are free in most areas, and if not then just pass the cost to the customer. Its not worth losing sleep or your business. Good luck and let me know how you make out.

03-31-2010, 11:58 PM
If you cut it with a shovel and it wasn't deep enough then you will be okay because it was probably a drop was it like 10 colorful wires? If so most it would be is about 200 bucks if they charge you. Now they are charging no matter what for service calls. Be really best buds with the guy that comes out and you should be okay. I have put them together myself not to say its right nor legal but you can buy all the splicing for phone or cable drops at home depot or lowes. Phone and Cable does carry voltage and you can get shocked but it won't kill you.

04-01-2010, 12:06 AM
I worked with a guy one time that cut a big phoneline like half the town was on it.
They wrote him a fine for 30k he made a paper airplane out of it and told them to
fly it up there a//. He said he'd file bankrupcy before he'd pay that. They ended up
settling for 3k on the spot. From what I've heard from him and others that the big fines
are a bluff move for suckers and insurance. Rarely does an individual have to pay but
small percentages of them.
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04-01-2010, 12:08 AM
Did it once but now i call 811, that's the # for any state i believe. Here its called Pa one call. Just called today to have them mark 7 sites for me.

I cut a Verizon telephone line with a brown bed edger...got lucky and they didn't bill me. Also found out that Verizon only goes 2-3 inches deep anymore so be careful.

04-01-2010, 12:10 AM
**** it all depends on the company. We hit 5 runs of fiber with the auger setting poles in Bonita cost over 300k to repair it was waved due to it wasn't marked we had locates. I've hit plenty of 100 pairs + and never got in trouble but they were located some were off some dead on. Hit a 2 inch gas line cost the company 40 thousand to fix we got sued for all of it. It just depends on how much a company has to lose.

It doesn't matter what the company does it has to be to National electric code for it to hold up in court. Take pictures!!!!! Hope its out of easement.

You can get a bill from the company and fine from law enforcement by the way.

04-01-2010, 12:12 AM
Well it was a very small line ....probably like a quarter inch line at most. Yes I knew I should have called but I was digging up fence posts that were already there and the line was like an inch from it. I guess I will see tomorrow what happens.

04-01-2010, 12:14 AM
It's only a drop then they won't charge you unless they are just a holes. You could fix it yourself in 5 mins

Mlc gmc03
04-01-2010, 12:16 AM
check what your local code is. Last year i hit a simple phone line with a bed edger and the guy that came out from the phone company thought he was some big shot and told me how much i was going to have to pay bla bla bla i told him it wasnt to code and if he'd like me to call the town code enforcement office i would be happy to, he had a tech come out and fix it and i never heard another word from him

Darryl G
04-01-2010, 12:34 AM
I'd be pretty worried if I were you, but I hope it works out ok for you. I'm thinking you should have done something to notify that you hit it even if it was after 5 though.

I always mark out and call if I'm on someone else's property and using a machne unless it's something like light grading of an existing driveway. I don't bother on my own property, I know where they all are.

Were you using a machine or digging by hand? At least in CT, they don't require a call for hand digging, but they do recommend it.

I've hit about every utility known to man except a fiber optic cable...electric lines, gas lines, water line, sewer/septic lines, septic tanks, underground fuel tank piping, underground fuel tanks themselves and phone lines and that was AFTER calling the job in. This was when I supervised a lot of geotechnical and environmental drilling and exacvating in my former career.

My point is that even after you call, don't assume that all utilities are on their maps, don't assume they've located them correctly, and don't assume every utility has been there to mark...look for every color of paint. If you know they have city water and don't see any blue paint, call again. For some reason, sewer lines are rarely marked...I punched through one at a depth of 26 feet one time (gravity feed line). I don't mean to preach, but you might say that I'm an expert at hitting utilities, lol.

04-01-2010, 12:36 AM
I used to live in HEB area...
I cut a marked phone line with a shovel twice in one day.
They charged me for both times.

I didn't care because it was a tight fit between houses, and for irrigation pipe installed I always add in 20% for misc.

I can use my 521 to locate but I've always called in first.

04-01-2010, 12:38 AM
They don't mark sewer because they can't half the time. Tracers broken and normally they are deeper than what the locate ticket called for. Normally they don'y mark drops because they fix them for free here. Take it from someone that use to call in 100 tickets a week. florida one call 811 Texas is the same worked there for a few weeks. If you don't have a ticket thats a different story. You should call now and leave a message to report the break!!!! there is a time frame your suppose to stay within.

rain man
04-01-2010, 01:18 AM
Lots of politics. Small drops which are cut are not worth most companies time to go after you unless you cut them a lot and get their attention. Some of it depends on the company. Most are as mentioned but a few are aggressive. Small drops equal small cost if you cut them usually (except in cases where the small drop feeds a hotel and someone important is staying there).

You can temp. most telephone. Green to green, red to red, etc. You can buy the crimps. Leave it stubbed up so the telephone man can do a more permenant repair and seal it against moisture. Keep a few pieces of telephone wire on your truck to use as a jumper.

For coaxial cable you will need specialized tools if you want to temp. This used to not be the case but telephany, high speed internet, and digital tv are all adversely affected by improper fittings which allow ingress of outside signal sources. You might get a few channels to work but its not a given. Again, if its a drop no big deal.

Trunk lines cost more but are usually buried deeper. Fiber is also usually buried deeper. It usually is in conduit but not always. It can be not that big of a deal or it can cost a great deal of money. They usually go after big companies with deep pockets but they do go after the little guy once in awhile.

It does not matter how deep it is buried. There are many reasons a line has to be buried shallow in a particular place. Sometimes the easement is limited and one company is buried on top of the other for instance.

What does matter is if you called in a locate.
If not located then did you wait for the locate to clear.
If its located, did you cut it within 2 ft of the locate.

When we got cut these were our three first items of interest. Again, it is usually no big deal but sometimes thousands of customers are without service. When this happens somebody often gets chewed out. If it happens enough he is in danger of loosing his job. When it gets this far then someone has to be used to set an example. Call before you dig.

04-01-2010, 01:22 AM
It does matter how deep it is. If there is other utilities on top of the easement you bore under them. Code is code there is no excuse for not being to depth.

rain man
04-01-2010, 01:31 AM
The guy was digging up fence post. Not boring.

04-01-2010, 01:33 AM
"It does not matter how deep it is buried. There are many reasons a line has to be buried shallow in a particular place. Sometimes the easement is limited and one company is buried on top of the other for instance."(rain man)

That's what the bore is for. Like I said before hand no excuse to go shallow. You explain being 6 inches too shallow to the person that dies from your cable being shallow. Thats why there is a code.

rain man
04-01-2010, 01:35 AM
Well, it has nothing to do with the original post but I am sure you know that many lines have been in the ground for years before directional boring was popular. Perhaps you should fine the company if you cut them because they did not directional bore?

04-01-2010, 01:40 AM
It doesn't matter who installed them its who owns the lines now. Directional drilling has been around long enough. Long enough that anything that has that many utilities already had the option of using it. I understand that there is plenty of shallow utilities some I even done :rolleyes: doesn't mean its right though. the tool to splice a variety of drop coax cable can be had at lowe's they also carry a variety of ends for rjX cable

rain man
04-01-2010, 01:47 AM
For 23 years I was on the other end and had to fix the lines in the middle of the night so its still in my blood. Lost a lot of sleep over cut lines. Sometimes I forget that I now cut grass lol. Its all good.

rain man
04-01-2010, 01:49 AM
Yeah, I have a couple of tools for different type connectors from over the years. If you get it close enough it will work with whatever tool long enough for a permenant repair.

04-01-2010, 01:52 AM
CATV lineman?

IBEW 349 here Power Lines

rain man
04-01-2010, 01:55 AM
System Tech. Was a lineman for a year too.

Richard Martin
04-01-2010, 06:01 AM
I hit a TV cable while aerating last fall. Talk about being too shallow. The next door neighbor came out and asked me how deep I was aerating. I told him it couldn't go any deeper than the tines on the aerator, about 4 inches. He said his cable, telephone and Internet just went out all at once. I told him to call the cable company. That was the last I heard of it.

Some of these cables are definately too shallow. As unknowfl says, the NEC covers depth of all of this stuff. If you were only a shovel's depth into the ground and cut a phone line then they should come out and fix it for free.

We buried some 120 volt here at my house. We didn't go down to code depth but we did go down about 12 inches. We put the wire in the bottom (UF) and then put about 6 inches of dirt on top of it. We then put electrical hazard tape in the trench from one end to the other and finished backfilling it.


04-01-2010, 09:34 PM
Well I lucked out this time. It was an abandoned cable. I learned my lesson the easy way this time. And to everyone else that reads this thread. LOCATE LOCATE LOCATE everytime because then you wont have to have as many headaches.

Darryl G
04-01-2010, 09:52 PM

rain man
04-01-2010, 11:01 PM
Some of these cables are definately too shallow. As unknowfl says, the NEC covers depth of all of this stuff. If you were only a shovel's depth into the ground and cut a phone line then they should come out and fix it for free.

It is very seldom that drop cable (to the home) is buried deep. Perhaps there are a few companies out there who go by the book but I am not famaliar with them. Most of it is contracted out these days instead of inhouse. It was always a numbers game. The more drops buried quickly then the more quick money that came in. However, we didn't bill anyone for cutting the shallow buried drops either, we just kept repairing or replacing them.

Lawn Pawn
04-01-2010, 11:47 PM
Was digging out a driveway several years ago.... yes they called for locates!
And the neighbor guy was pounding in a horseshoe pin in his backyard.... went through a fiber optic cable....... $1500.00 he paid.

Local contractor.... bad news to begin with, dug through a big time fiber optic!! Got out of the machine and just walked away. End of his company.

Lot different than it was 40 years ago for what's in the ground and what you could get away with.

Remember scuffing the coating of the old steel gas mains, and having to call up to have the power company come and recoat them? Got so tired of being called they just gave us the rubber tape and the cans of sealer to keep in the backhoe.

Even before that.... remember the anodes they would bury wired to the big steel gas mains? That was really a mess if you destroyed one of them. Ahhhh the good old days.

04-02-2010, 12:04 AM
called in a locate......entire property irrigation..... sliced through cable fiber u name it..and numerous times.... in the backyard
Flags showed only cable/lines in the front yard.

Utility marking inspector shows up and tried to tell me I should have called twice....boy did he get an ear full.

04-02-2010, 12:12 AM
Its called X state one call for a reason LOL. As long as the dates are good your clear to go they will contact you here if they can't make the dates. It use to be an issue when it was booming but not so much now.