Texas 811 codes

Private vs. Public Utility Location Services

You’ve probably heard of the 811 nationwide campaign slogan “Call Before You Dig.”

You might think this free public utility location service will clear you to dig for your project, whether it be planting a tree, installing a pool, or fixing a leaky sewage or water pipe.

But to be thoroughly diligent — and to avoid damaging sensitive lines like gas or electricity — you’ll need to enlist a private utility location service, too.

Why Hire Private Utility Location Services

Most cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area manage electric, gas, phone/cable, water and sewer company lines — but only up to the property line or meter. These are the public utilities that can be located and marked for free by calling 811 before your project.

Texas811 notifies the utilities, which then sends representatives to mark the primary public utility lines (water lines, natural gas pipelines, electric).

However, everything buried from the property line to and around your home is considered private utility, and is therefore your responsibility.

Chances are you will be digging within your property boundaries, so you’ll need a private service like Wood Inspection to find lines in your yard that could cause issues.

It may be tempting to forego the private service by looking up city utility maps, but this is not a great idea for several reasons. First, most records are based on the original design rather than the actual installation of utility lines. And if upgrades have been made in recent years, the maps likely won’t reflect those changes. Lastly, many utilities might not even be on record at all.

Private Utility Lines on Your Property

OK, you might be thinking, but what can really be hiding under the surface in my backyard, for example? Could I really hit anything?

Unmarked private utilities can include:

  • Sewer lines
  • Private exterior lighting
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Electric lines to detached garages or backup generators
  • Gas lines to heated pools
  • Septic tank pipes
  • Fire pit gas lines

So yes, you could hit something. More than 80 percent of “no call” damages were people using hand tools and damaging gas lines.

It pays off to play it safe. For a comprehensive evaluation of private and public utilities, contact an independent utility contractor like Wood Inspection Services. Our family-owned business has decades of experience locating utilities across the DFW metro area and throughout Texas, and our experienced technicians have the tools to get you started — safely — on your project.

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