If you suspect that you have a sewer blockage, you're probably on the verge of calling a plumber to clear the sewer line. While this is a great idea, there's one thing you should do first: call your gas company! Calling your gas company before a plumber comes to work on your sewer line can save you time, hassle, and reduce the risk of puncturing a gas line.
You might be wondering how a gas line could possibly be punctured by a plumber clearing a sewer line. Believe it or not, it's actually fairly common for a gas line to go through a sewer line.
Many public utility companies now use a technique called directional boring, which means digging horizontally underground. They use this technique so they don't have to dig up roads and sidewalks every time a line is installed, which saves homeowners and drivers a lot of hassle. Unfortunately, sometimes they'll puncture a line and install a pipe right through your sewer line in the process. You may not have even known it's happened, as gas lines are much narrower than sewer lines, so your plumbing would probably still work normally after the installation.
Inspections Are Usually Free
Even if you have no reason to suspect that a gas line has been installed, it's worth giving your gas company a call. They'll know if any installations have gone on in your area in recent time. It's also possible that your gas company may have already inspected your sewer line for cross-bores without you even knowing it.
Most gas companies will perform an inspection of your sewer line for free to make sure that it hasn't been punctured by a gas line. If it has, they can move the gas line and repair the damage. Once this process is complete, you can have a plumber clear the line with confidence that there won't be a gas leak. Make sure to tell your plumber that your gas company has confirmed that there's no gas line cross-bore: it'll make their job easier, too.
If you choose to skip calling your gas company and there is a line cross-bore, it could cause serious problems. Once a gas line is punctured, it can leak gas into the sewer line, which can come up through the toilet and drains in your home. It also leaks gas into the sewer system, which can cause pollution.
Once the line is punctured, solving the problem is much more difficult. Digging up your yard may be necessary for your gas company to repair the damage and move the pipe. You may need to evacuate your home during the maintenance, or you can at least expect to have your gas shut off during the duration of the repairs.
The risk of puncturing a gas line during a sewer line cleaning can be easily averted by making just one phone call. While a gas line and sewer line cross-bore is a nuisance, your gas company can fix the problem and save you future hassles in the process. If you're getting a sewer cleaning, make sure that there's no gas lines in the way.