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Grading over gas line

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by cddva, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. cddva

    cddva LawnSite Member
    Posts: 189

    Any advice for grading over a gas line at a residence? I had a call asking to remove about a 8" depth of clay soil so that amended soil could be added to start a garden area. I would have Miss Utility locate and mark the line prior to any grading and would hand dig at one spot to verify the location/depth of the line which I'm assuming should be at least 2' deep. Anything else I should consider or be aware of? I haven't done any "excavating" directly over a gas line before and I've read enough stories here of things gone wrong. I'd rather ask the "dumb" question now then tell how I blew up my machine later (I know, it takes all the fun out of it). I'm planning to look at the job and give an estimate this weekend. I would use an RC50 so machine weight shouldn't be an issue. Thanks.
  2. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    You may not like the answer,But you should locate the line by hand over the full length of the grading area.

    Dig laws are straight forward and it is the only way too reduce liability.

    Anytime you deal with utilities extra time needs too be added.

    You are solely responsible for any damage too utilities that occurs in the marked areas.
  3. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,799

    I usually only pothole the line once or twice.

    If the line isn't to code in the pothole, its not going to be code over the length of the line.

    If it is, then it better be to code over the entire line. The good news is, your not liable if you break it, because it wasn't installed to code.

    Thats entirely not true. At least, in my state.
  4. RockSet N' Grade

    RockSet N' Grade LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,454

    Cddva...I tend to be not too serious about alot of things, but utilities to me are the real deal. The rule here, call blue stake, have them mark out utilities, then dig. There is to be no machine digging within 24" of painted lines. I pot hole like Dirty Water for grading or anything else. I do alot of pot holes along the way. I also have the happy homeowner sign a release, releasing me from any underground sprinkler, cable, telephone or whatever repairs. When working around utilities.......assume nothing, go slow and error on the side of caution. Make sure your insurance is paid up.......if you hit a utility a 7 digit insurance policy can disappear in a poof of smoke!
  5. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    I would guess that this garden gets tilled up yearly to a depth of about 6 inches if it is a standard type tiller. Whatever means to which the garden has gotten tilled I would till it again with that machine and back drag the 8 inches off of the garden and be done with it. Backdragging will most likely not break the line should you be that close. If you are really worried I would dig down to the line and pinch it with a pair of welder type vise grips (assuming a poly gas line) and clear the material off. Make sure you restart all gas pilots in the house should you go this route. I would not expose the entire line for this job. This all is assuming it is a service line and not a main line. Although gas main lines tend to be 4' in depth at least here. Another option is take less material out and put more composted material on top.
  6. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,799

    By the way, Digging out 8" of clay soil and adding a topsoil is just going to create a bowl for water.
  7. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    I had a case were the power was installed too code and after the fact the land was graded down too within 6 inches of the power.

    So were is the fault placed then?

    Luckily Virginia has an exemption for Agricultaral operations.

    Here is cut and past from Virginia's laws regarding the utilities.


    All the info is available online.

    § 56-265.24. Duties of excavator.
    A. Any person excavating within two feet on either side of the staked or marked location of an operator's underground utility line or demolishing in such proximity to an underground utility line that the utility line may be destroyed, damaged, dislocated or disturbed shall take all reasonable steps necessary to properly protect, support and backfill underground utility lines. For excavations not parallel to an existing underground utility line, such steps shall include, but may not be limited to:
    1. Exposing the underground utility line to its extremities by hand digging;
    2. Not utilizing mechanized equipment within two feet of the extremities of all exposed utility lines; and
    3. Protecting the exposed utility lines from damage.
    In addition, for excavations parallel to an existing utility line, such steps shall include, but may not be limited to, hand digging at reasonable distances along the line of excavation. The excavator shall exercise due care at all times to protect underground utility lines when exposing these lines by hand digging.
    B. If the markings locating the underground lines become illegible due to time, weather, construction, or any other cause, the person performing the excavation or demolition shall so notify the notification center for the area. Such notification shall constitute an extension under subsection D of § 56-265.17.
    C. If, upon arrival at the site of a proposed excavation, the excavator observes clear evidence of the presence of an unmarked utility line in the area of the proposed excavation, the excavator shall not begin excavating until an additional call is made to the notification center for the area pursuant to subsection B of § 56-265.17.
    D. In the event of any damage to, or dislocation, or disturbance of any underground utility line including its appurtenances, covering, and coating, in connection with any excavation or demolition, the person responsible for the excavation or demolition operations shall immediately notify the operator of the underground utility line and shall not backfill around the underground utility line until the operator has repaired the damage or has given clearance to backfill. The operator shall either commence repair of the damage or give clearance to backfill within twenty-four hours, and upon his failure to commence or prosecute with diligence such repair or give clearance, the giving of clearance shall be presumed.
    E. If the damage, dislocation, or disturbance of the underground utility line creates an emergency, the person responsible for the excavation or demolition shall, in addition to complying with subsection D of this section, take immediate steps reasonably calculated to safeguard life, health and property.
    F. With the exception of designers requesting marking of a site, in accordance with § 56-265.17, no person, including operators, shall request marking of a site through a notification center unless excavation shall commence within thirty working days from the date of the original notification to the notification center. Except for counties, cities, and towns, any person who willfully fails to comply with this subsection shall be liable to the operator for three times the cost of marking its utility line, not to exceed $1,000.
    G. Any person performing excavation or demolition shall provide to the operator of the underground utility line in the area of excavation or to the appropriate regulatory authority having jurisdiction, the number issued by the notification center for that excavation site in response to the excavator's notice, within one hour of a request for the number issued by the notification center.
    H. If an excavator discovers an unmarked line, the excavator shall protect this line pursuant to subsection C of this section. An excavator shall not remove an abandoned line without first receiving authorization to do so by the operator.
    (1979, c. 291; 1994, c. 890; 1996, c. 79; 2002, c. 841.)

    § 56-265.25. Liability of operator and excavator; penalties.
    A. 1. If any underground utility line is damaged as a proximate result of a person's failure to comply with any provision of this chapter, that person shall be liable to the operator of the underground utility line for the total cost to repair the damaged facilities as that cost is normally computed by the operator, provided the operator is a member of the notification center covering the area in which the damage to the utility line takes place. The liability of such a person for such damage shall not be limited by reason of this chapter.
    2. Any person who willfully fails to notify the notification center of proposed excavation or demolition shall be liable to the operator as provided in subsection A of § 56-265.17.
    3. If, after receiving proper notice, an operator fails to discharge a duty imposed by any provision of this chapter and an underground utility line of such operator is damaged, as a proximate result of the operator's failure to discharge such duty, by any person who has complied with all of the provisions of this chapter, such person shall not be so liable.
    B. If an underground utility line of an operator is damaged, as the proximate result of the operator's failure to comply with any provision of this chapter, by any person who has complied with the provisions of this chapter, the operator shall be liable to such person for the total cost to repair any damage to the equipment or facilities of such person resulting from such damage to the operator's underground utility line.
    C. Except as specifically set forth herein, the provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to either abrogate any rights, duties, or remedies existing under law or create any rights, duties, defenses, or remedies in addition to any rights, duties, or remedies existing under law.
  8. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    I wanted too add that I was not saying Dirty Water was wrong.I usually check it in several spots and depending on the age of the install you can tell how deep it was installed.
    In Georgia they are as little as 18 inches and there is no clear cut code on installation depth.
    I hit and unmarked line a few days back that was less than 6 inches deep.
    The gas company keeps a push lock cap for the line in case of breaks.
    If you see a reapir truck ask them for one.
    If you hit it just cap it off.
    KSSS idea is also a good one.
  9. cddva

    cddva LawnSite Member
    Posts: 189

    I appreciate all your replies, that was exactly the feedback I was looking for. I got the impression (from the email "discussion" with the homeowner) that it is a newly constructed home/area. Personally I can't see planting a garden over a gas line. After I look at the area I might suggest some other alternatives if they exist (maybe clear some brush in another spot for the garden or just build up this area versus creating a "pot" as stated, I'll see. I'm sure they don't want to spend alot for this "simple" job but she made a real point of asking about insurance coverage. It makes me a little leary up front. so it was good to get all your input. I'll get the lay of the land and go from there. Thanks.
  10. SinjonAssociates

    SinjonAssociates LawnSite Member
    Posts: 115


    This happened in my brothers neighborhood, the good doctor when he hit the plastic line pulled it enough to bust a fitting inside the house (not sure how). His mom came out to tell him that there was a strong smell of gas inside the house!! Lucky it was just the house that died.

    Has the site ever been regraded? The line may be closer to the surface now.

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