How Deep Are Most Underground Utilities Buried?

underground utilities

Underground utilities include electrical lines, natural gas lines, and sometimes internet cables. The reason utility lines are buried is for safety reasons, both for people who have to walk above them – and for the safety and security of the utilities themselves. If underground utilities were buried too shallow, they could resurface and get damaged easily.

So, just how deep are utility lines buried? Is there a standard depth for underground power lines? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions, and more!

How Deep Are Most Underground Utilities Buried?

The depth that utility lines are buried underground is important. In fact, this information is very important for homeowners and commercial building project managers to know. If you don’t know the depth of utility lines when you make any residential or commercial property modifications that could be near a utility line, well, this creates a lot of potential trouble you didn’t need.

Here’s a quick guide to how deep you can find most underground utilities buried, and how you can know for sure.

Why does Underground Utility Depth Matter?

Utility depth matters: but the first thing you should know about is why depth matters.

The first reason underground utility depth is important (and specified) is for safety. Utilities like gas lines would be exposed if they were not buried at the right depth. This can cause all sorts of emergencies that experts agree are very bad.

Utilities are also buried for the safety of people. Often, utility lines run through residential and commercial properties – and depth has to be calculated as a legal requirement.

How Deep Are Most Underground Utilities Buried?

 There is an individual answer for different utilities, and the answer is not the same (though similar) for every state in the US.

If you aren’t sure about the depth of utility lines, confirm the depths with a local utility company before moving on.

Guessing is dangerous. If you guess or start digging according to the wrong measurements, you could strike anything from electrical lines and water lines to gas lines. Or, you might even screw up the internet connection for an entire neighborhood, and be liable for it.

It’s The Law…Literally

The law in each state specifies just how deep individual utilities should be placed.

If utility lines are buried too deep (or too shallow), they can present unnecessary danger to everyone around (and especially on top) of these lines.

What happens if you strike a power or gas line?

First, it’s dangerous.

Second, due to the legal implications of striking power or gas lines, you could be liable for any damages caused.

Safety should always be put first, especially if you intend to work near what you suspect could be a live utility line.

If You Aren’t Sure, Here’s the Rule

Always check your state to see what the law says about how deep underground utilities have to be placed. The answers to specific utilities are different, and they vary from state to state.

If you are not a professional, then this might be the time you need to hire one. A professional inspector can establish the exact depth of utility lines with tools, not guesswork.

This is important, especially because utility lines might not be at the same depth regulations state they should be. Environmental changes are just one reason why underground utility depth might be different than expected.

Electrical Utilities

Generally, electrical utilities have to be buried between 18 to 24 inches underground.

This is deep enough to secure the lines, but also deep enough to make sure that they don’t rise to the surface – and don’t get damaged by weather that hits the higher-up surface of the soil.

Electrical utilities are also set at this depth so that people don’t accidentally dig them up. Live electricity is as dangerous as you think. When dealing with electrical utilities, always hire a professional.

Gas Utilities & Sewage Lines

According to, most gas utilities and sewage lines are buried at least two feet underground.

Gas utilities and sewage lines are installed at least two feet underground so that they don’t come to any accidental harm, and so that they are not exposed to the elements. Installing gas and sewage liners any higher would be risky, but lower would be impractical. Therefore, while individual states specify different depths, two feet deep is the minimum for most.

How Deep Can You Dig Before Calling 811?

Call before you dig! No matter how many inches deep you plan to dig, before digging, it is imperative to contact 811 or visit your state’s 811 center’s website.

By doing so, you can request a utility locating service to mark the locations of underground utility lines with paint or flags to prevent inadvertent damage to underground utilities during digging activities.

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