How to Mark Utility Lines and Pipes Before Your Deck Addition

If you are planning to make a deck addition and you plan on digging in the ground to either add wood planks or cement, it is very important that you search for and mark properly any wires and pipes that may be buried underneath the ground.

Get a Permit

Go to your city, county, or state office to find out if you need to get a permit to build your deck addition. A permit is very important in some states so that you will be able to resell your home or do all construction legally.

While you are at the office, ask the receptionist to direct you to a business or organization in your community that will come and check the area around your home for wires and pipes. Many communities have organizations that will offer these services for free, to prevent people from injuring themselves or causing damage to the pipes or wires. In most cases, the service provider will have a list of the locations of the pipes and wires and may not need to even come to your home.

Marking Utilities

After you have checked with the professionals about piping or wires, you will still want to dig cautiously in case something has been missed. Though pipes should already be color coded, there may be instances where you will need to color code them in your back yard.

Though multicolored utility tape works well for this step, it is a good idea for you to find out what your city recommends using for coloring pipes and wires.

If possible, mark the pipes and wires in more than one area and continue marking every 6 to 12 inches. This will allow people who are digging in the future to recognize the type of piping or wires immediately.

The Different Colors

Generally there are five colors to choose from, though this may vary from state to state or even by county. It is a good idea to double check this list with your county office to insure that it is accurate for your area. In some cases, you may be required to mark the area above each pipe with a colored flag to remind you that it is there while you are building.

Use red markings if you are covering up any electrical wires or pipes, including electric power lines, lighting cables, conduit and general electric cables.

If you are covering up pipes that transfer fuels such as oil, gas, steam petroleum or other gaseous materials, you should mark your pipes with the color yellow.

Use orange colored markings if you are covering up phone lines or cables, communication conduit, signal lines or other materials relating to communication.

Use blue colored markings for any water or irrigation pipes. You will also want to use blue for slurry lines.

Green markers should be used for marking sewers and drain lines. Make sure to not mix up the blue and green markers, though they both will hold liquid.

Make sure that you mark your wires and pipes properly and follow what you city, county or state says to do. This will help you from causing damage or potential injury.