Watch for Utility Lines Before Building Your Fence

Properly installed and maintained fences play an important role in many homeowner’s lives. They help us keep a watchful eye on children and pets. They protect our families, by limiting access to pools and other sensitive or dangerous areas. Those who have a green thumb are able to defend their hard work from pests and varmints looking for a free lunch. It’s for these reasons and more that so many homeowners make the call to have a fence put in. But there’s another call they need to make – one that could mean the difference between enjoying a beautiful fenced-in yard for years to come or a premature demise.


When we look out our windows, we don’t usually think about what’s beneath the surface. We might see a lush emerald expanse of fescue, dotted with children’s toys and lawn furniture. Perhaps we’ll indulge in a daydream about the upcoming summer barbecue season, planning the menu and deciding where to set up the volleyball net. But unless we think about what’s below the surface, none of these joyous moments will come to pass. That’s why following the Knoxville Utility Board’s advice and dialing 811 before you dig is so important.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of utility lines that might be buried in your yard. These include:

  • Power
  • Natural Gas
  • Water
  • Sewage
  • Telephone & Data

An accidental strike of any of these lines can have significant, even deadly, consequences.


When you dig without regard for what’s below the surface, you’re taking your life in your hands. Striking a buried electric line could mean an electric shock, resulting in severe burns, paralysis or death. In some cases, such as with natural gas, it’s more than just your own personal safety at risk. Anyone nearby could be injured or even killed if a gas line were to rupture and catch fire or explode.

There are other less obvious dangers as well. You may not be directly in harm’s way if you accidentally cut a telephone or data line. But what if an emergency happened elsewhere in your neighborhood, and the people involved couldn’t call emergency services for help? Even when we ourselves are not directly in the path of danger, unthinking actions can have a far-reaching impact on those around us.

A broken water main is, at best, an inconvenience. Property damage can reach tens of thousands of dollars or higher, not to mention the disruption to and potential for contamination of the potable water supply that you and your neighborhood depend on. And we can all imagine why breaking open a sewage line would best be avoided.


None of these scenarios are fun to deal with. At best they are inconvenient, at worst they are life-altering for you and your family. All of them can be avoided by making one simple call before breaking ground – 811. 811 is your one-stop resource for buried utility awareness. When you make the call, the 811 call center contacts your local utility providers, who will then dispatch trained professionals to mark off any buried utility lines in the area you’re planning to dig.

Here’s another suggestion: leave it to the professionals. Your trained professional fence installers are well-versed in buried utility safety. They know the dangers of striking a buried utility line and are well trained to prevent it from happening.

If you’re going to dig, call 811. Buried utility lines can be a lot shallower than you might think. Save yourself and your family a lifetime of heartache and call before you dig.