Underground Cables

The pandemic created a scenario where people were at home and many had extra time on their hands. No great shock, lots of home remodeling and home improvement projects followed. Many of these projects focused on important interior remodeling, such as building a home office.

Others focused on exterior projects, like providing kids with an outdoor play area or putting up fencing. For anything happening at the surface level, that’s not a problem. For anything that involved digging, though, rushing into the project is a bad idea.

Why? There are probably underground cables or pipes beneath your yard. If you’re wondering why blind digging is such a problem, keep reading for some key reasons you should never dig without checking for underground lines.

Damaged Underground Cables

Right at the top of the list of reasons is the potential for ruined lines under your yard. It might not seem like such a big deal until the power goes out in your house or the entire neighborhood. You can also unintentionally sever communication lines.

Repairing that damage can prove time-consuming for you and the utility company that services those lines. Even more importantly, you can wind up on the hook for those repair bills.

You can avoid problems like that with a call to 811, which alerts utility companies that digging will occur. The utility company will send workers out to mark the lines for you. You can take it up a notch with tools like smart scan locators that help pinpoint the exact location of lines.

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Personal Injury

Another key reason you shouldn’t go digging blind is the potential for personal injury. Let’s say you hit a buried power line. Unlike the wires in your home that have hard limits on their voltages, exterior lines can carry lethal voltage levels.

You can face severe electrical injuries, such as:

  • Burns
  • Organ damage
  • Heart attack
  • Nerve damage
  • Long-term brain damage

Severe electrocution can also trigger psychological changes.


Most states require that homeowners call the state’s 811 phone line or use the online forms on their 811 websites ahead of any project that requires digging. If you don’t make the call or use the online form and damage a utility line, you can become liable for fines.

Let’s say that you don’t damage a line. Digging without using the phone line or online form can still make you liable for fines if the utility company or state becomes aware of the digging.

Don’t Go Digging Blindly

The real takeaway is that homeowners should never just start digging in their yards. While some lines might prove deep enough that it’s not a problem, you can’t know for sure.

If you live somewhere that the frost line is only 6 inches deep, your local utility company may only bury lines 6 inches to 12 inches deep. That’s close enough to the surface that planting a tree might connect your shovel to a utility line.

Looking for more tips on doing home improvements the right way? Check out the posts in our home improvement section.