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Underground Pipe Safety: Call Before You Clear

03 Nov 2023

Clogs in your sewer or draining system can be frequent during the holidays, such as Thanksgiving, when there is an abundance of food being prepared and eaten. Any time you encounter a clog, you may have the potentially dangerous situation of a cross bore.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is a cross bore?

A cross bore is usually found in urban and suburban areas when a new utility line is unintentionally bored through a sewer pipe.

Why is a cross bore dangerous?

When a professional drain cleaner or homeowner attempts to open a clogged line with a cutting tool, it could expose them to the hazardous risk of an electric shock or natural gas leak that could result in a fire or explosion.

What can I do?

If you have a clogged line, call 811 before you clear, especially if you know there are buried electric or gas lines within your community. Dialing 811 will connect you to Pennsylvania’s One Call System and you should use the phrase “sewer cleaning” or “drain cleaning” and the rep will contact the utility to respond immediately.


Natural gas is naturally odorless and colorless. To make natural gas detectable, a chemical known as

Mercaptan is added. It has a smell that is similar to rotten eggs. Natural gas detectors are also available at most home improvement stores.

If you detect the odor of gas at any time, evacuate the area immediately. Call 911 or UGI at 800-276-2722, from a safe location. Remember, there is no charge for UGI personnel to come and investigate a natural gas odor. For more information, visit https://www.ugi.com/natural-gas-safety.