How Deep are Gas Lines Buried?

Why you should know how deep are gas lines buried? That’s because some might be buried dangerously close to your yard and the risk of puncturing them is high.

This is especially the case if you frequently garden or doing any construction work in your backyard.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, a gas line is a pipeline that transports liquefied petroleum gases or natural gas.

It comes from the place where it’s processed to the place where it is distributed – which would be homes, restaurants, or any other establishments that would require gas.

(LPG; mostly propane and butane; sometimes referred to as “bottled gas”)

In this article, you’ll learn to estimate how deep are gas lines buried and what to do if you accidentally puncture one.

How deep are gas lines buried

Gas lines buried underground
Source: NPCA Online (Flickr)

The depth of an underground gas line depends on many factors, including:

  1. The type of terrain over which the pipeline will be placed
  2. The soil conditions at that site
  3. And environmental considerations.

A typical depth for an above-ground pipeline is ten feet while below ground installations typically range between 25 and 35 feet.

For very long or deep installations, the pipeline may be put in a tunnel.    

Minimum burial depth for underground gas piping

You can usually assume that it’s between 25 and 35 feet.

There isn’t one set depth that will suit every situation. This is because soil composition and other factors play a role in deciding just how far down you need to go before it’s “deep enough.”

Finding out where gas lines are buried

you need to contact your local utility company for information about the locations of any gas pipelines in your area so you can plan accordingly.

Be careful when working near any existing gas lines in your area to avoid injuring yourself or anybody else.

How long do underground gas pipelines last

Underground natural gas transmission pipelines have an average design life of more than 40 years while distribution mains may be good for over 100 years.

An above-ground gas line is placed in a shallow trench so it is exposed to the elements.

This means they have a shorter design life than underground lines, which are protected from corrosion by soil, water and being buried deeper out of sight.

In order to maintain their integrity over the years, gas distribution systems rely on an extensive network of both underground and overhead utility lines.

Type of pipe used for underground gas lines

Steel pipe is the most common material used for underground gas lines.

How deep are gas lines buried, really?
Source: Consumers Energy (Flickr)

In some cases, volatile soils can corrode metal so special care must be taken to ensure that soil conditions are suitable for a steel pipeline.

Another alternative is the plastic pipe, which has become very popular in recent years as a replacement for underground natural gas pipelines. It doesn’t corrode or conduct electricity and resists damage from roots or rodents.

Can you break a gas line with a shovel?

Yes. A shovel can break a gas line so it is imperative to never dig in an area where there could be any lines buried because it will result in damages and possible injuries.

What happens if you hit a gas line while digging  

If you are digging within 12 inches of any underground pipeline including water, electricity, or gas lines, it is crucial to call 811 before breaking ground so that utility companies can mark their locations before anything is damaged.

No matter what type of project you’re undertaking which could disturb soil including planting a new tree, installing a fence, starting some home renovations, or digging a pool.

Signs of gas leaking underground

If you suspect that there may be a gas leak or rupture underground, call your local fire department for help.

In the meantime, leave all doors and windows open to ventilate any escaping fumes.

Never smoke near a suspected gas leak as there is a risk of the mixture of oxygen with the gas triggering an explosion.

What should I do if my house smells like gas

There is only one thing you can do:

LEAVE THE BUILDING IMMEDIATELY.

Call 911 from a safe location and tell them where you are and what’s going on along with your name and address so they know who reported it.

Before leaving, turn off any appliances that might cause a spark.

Don’t use your telephone or turn the lights on and off while you are away from the house.

Your call will be answered by a dispatcher who will record all of your information and contact emergency personnel to respond to the scene immediately.

How do firemen know where gas lines are

Firefighters must be aware that most utility respects have been marked with yellow paint at four-foot intervals along the pipe. This helps workers to locate it if there is ever a need for repairs or replacement.

Source: John S. Quarterman (Flickr)

In some cases, ground markings may guide them instead. But this only works when the disturbed earth is covered by fresh sod again within a few day’s time so it does not affect visibility.

What can I do to protect my home from a gas leak

In the case of natural gas, ensure that your home has proper ventilation in order to reduce the possibility of any buildup of explosive gases.

To do this, open doors and windows at least once a year for at least fifteen minutes while the heating system is operating.

If you smell propane near any of your appliances or hear a hissing noise, it could be a sign you have a propane leak. Call your utility company immediately and keep everyone away from affected areas until help arrives.

How deep are gas valves buried

If you want to know how deep your gas valve is buried, it’s best to check with your local utility company and request that they give you the depth before digging into the ground for any reason.

Most companies shouldn’t have a problem sharing this information free of charge. But if not, consider contacting them again every year around the time when you’re likely to do some yard work just in case they’ve changed their policies or schedule.

Conclusion

Gas lines are buried underground for the safety of everyone.

If you hit a gas line while digging, call your local fire department immediately.

Stay away from any building that smells like gas and also keep all doors and windows open to ventilate any escaping fumes.

Never smoke near a suspected gas leak.

To make sure your home is protected from any gas leaks, ensure it has proper ventilation during winter months by opening doors and windows at least once a year for fifteen minutes when the heating system is on.

Stay safe and updated with us on all your backyard or underground issues.