Natural gas comes into homes and businesses through a network of underground pipelines that may be located on or near your property. These pipelines have exceptional safety records - however, like electrical lines, they can be dangerous and must be respected.
Since pipelines are buried underground, utility companies often use markers to show the approximate location – particularly in rural areas. Markers may be anywhere along the pipeline "right-of-way," which typically run along a public street, but may also be on or near private property.
The owner of the pipeline has the right to restrict certain activities in the right-of-way so they can access the area in an emergency or for maintenance.
The color, size and design may vary, but all markers must display the following:
- Approximate location of pipelines;
- Material transported in the pipeline;
- Name of the pipeline operator; and
- Operator’s telephone number in case of an emergency.
However, not all lines are marked, so it is critical that you dial 811 or contact your state’s One Call Center before digging. Right-of-way locations are usually recorded with counties or local municipalities and filed on maps.
Maintaining your buried gas piping
Do you have buried natural gas lines for a pool, workshop or other use on your property? You should know about a federal law covering the maintenance of customer-owned gas piping.
In most cases, gas companies maintain buried gas piping up to the outlet of the gas meter on your property. All gas piping beyond this point is the responsibility of the property owner.
Some examples of buried gas piping that are not maintained by utility companies are:
- Buried piping past the outlet of a meter supplying mobile homes;
- Buried piping past the outlet of a meter supplying secondary buildings, such as a detached garage and workshops;
- Buried piping past the outlet of a meter supplying additional equipment, such as pool heaters, gas grills and yard lamps.
The federal law administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (Title 49 CFR 192.16) states:
- Buried piping that is not maintained may be subject to the potential hazards of corrosion and leakage.
- Buried piping should be:
- Periodically inspected for leaks;
- Periodically inspected for corrosion if the piping is metallic;
- Repaired or removed from service if any unsafe condition is discovered.
- Before excavating near buried piping, the piping should be located and excavating done carefully by hand. Underground locating contractors may assist with locating buried piping. A plumbing or heating contractor may be able to provide assistance with inspection and repair of buried piping.