So you’re thinking about starting a DIY project?
You’ve seen your neighbors do it. Just dig down a little to expose a foundation, dig a trench to plant a hedge, auger out some post holes for a fence. How hard can it be, right?
This kind of work happens hundreds of times every day. From a realtor pounding in a post to support a For Sale sign, to a homeowner digging footings for a new deck or pergola, or something as simple as installing a new mailbox. Homeowners are constantly doing projects that require minor excavation.
What is BC 1 call?
The first thing that you should know is that the BC One Call service is completely free. Basically, BC One Call is a link between the owners of underground utilities, and the person or company doing excavation work. They will provide you with a detailed map of underground utilities that identifies underground utilities in the area you plan to work.
When should you call? You need to have the BC One Call process finished before you begin your project. It’s good practice to call 5-7 days before you plan to start digging. This leaves some time for them to get the plans back to you. The most important thing is that you do not start digging before the process is completed.
Why would you bother calling?
It’s your property, right? Why are you going to check in with anybody before doing work on your own property?
The thing to remember is that any utilities that are connected to a provider, are owned by that provider. This may not be true for power lines that run from a generator or water lines running from your own well, but most utilities are owned by the big utility companies. There are more than a hundred years worth of active and decommissioned utilities underground, and you can do major damage to them, even with a shovel.
I once watched a laborer break through a 1” gas line while chipping away at clay with a shovel. They’re made of plastic and easy to damage.
What might you find underground
While gas is probably the most dangerous utility that you will encounter underground, it’s by no means the only thing you can damage. Here are some examples of what you may find while digging in your own front yard:
- Power cables
- Water lines
- Sewer pipes
- Drain pipes
- Telephone/Internet cable
- Other data cables (alarm systems, surveillance systems and much more)
You are much less likely to damage these lines if you call first, because you will know where they are. You’ll be looking for them as you work and excavating cautiously in areas where cables, pipes and lines are present.
What can happen if you don’t call?
What sometimes happens is nothing. The project goes off without a hitch and Bob’s your uncle.
The other possibility however, can be dangerous and incredibly expensive. If you hit a gas line, it’s considered an emergency. You need to back away from the area and call 911 or Fortis BC. You will have to wait for the fire department to come and clear the area and for Fortis to come and repair the line.
Related: 4 Things To Consider When Hiring An Excavation Contractor
Damaging electrical, water, sewer and communications cables all come with their own dangers and hassles and the reality that you will be held financially responsible for the repair.
That’s right, you have to pay for the damage, and in some cases, the lost product. Fortis will want to recover the cost of the gas that leaked out of the line between when you broke it and when they arrived and shut it off.
This can easily run you tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the utility, damage and circumstances.
How to avoid the hassle
There are two ways that you can avoid the possibility of breaking something and being held liable for a potentially huge repair bill: make the call before you dig, or hire a licensed contractor to take care of all that for you.
If you just don’t want to run the risk of causing damage to underground utilities, let us do it for you. We specialize in this type of work, it’s all we do. We will take care of planning the dig and locating utilities for you. Sometimes accidents happen, even with experienced contractors. There’s no way to know exactly what you’re getting into until you actually excavate the earth.
I’ve seen gas lines bored straight through tree trunks, between large rocks and even through a drain pipe. You don’t know what you’re going to encounter and having the protection of a licensed and insured contractor doing the work, might just be worth it for you.
If you want to talk to a professional excavation contractor about your next excavation project, give us a call today. We welcome the opportunity to earn your business and your trust.