Blocked sewer? Call PSE first.
Some sewers have gas pipelines in them
In neighborhoods where natural gas was installed without digging trenches, there’s a small chance that a gas pipeline was inadvertently inserted through a sewer. Called “cross bores,” these gas lines are safe unless damaged. A cutting tool used to clear a blocked sewer is capable of rupturing a cross-bored gas line, allowing gas to enter your home and endanger your safety.
Even homes not served by natural gas can have cross bores from pipelines in the street or serving a neighbor’s home. Before anyone clears an exterior blockage, call PSE at 1-888-225-5773 to make sure the sewer is safe to clear.
What PSE does when you call
As soon as you call, and at no cost, PSE will dispatch a technician to meet with you or your plumber and locate the gas pipeline. We usually arrive within 60 minutes.
Safety tips for customers
- Call or ask your sewer clearing professional to contact PSE at 1-888-225-5773 prior to clearing the blockage. We will promptly meet your professional to locate and mark our natural gas pipeline free of charge.
- Never use a sewer clearing machine to clear an exterior blockage until the obstruction has been identified.
- Suspect a gas leak? Leave the area immediately and call PSE or 911. Do not use phones
near the gas leak.
Your plumber can help
Your plumber or drain-cleaning professional may recommend inserting a camera in your sewer to look for gas pipelines. This is a good practice, and if a gas pipeline is found, you’ll be reimbursed for the camera inspection. However, you should always call PSE to locate the gas pipeline, as it may be concealed behind other obstructions.
Safety tips for sewer clearing professionals
Read these safety tips for professionals working with sewers in the PSE service territory.
How cross bores happened
For many years, utilities nationwide have installed gas pipelines by boring underground, rather than digging trenches, to avoid tearing up paving and landscaping. Existing underground pipes and wires are marked, when possible, before work begins. But sewer pipes often go unnoticed because they are regularly unmapped and are undetectable using above-ground locating devices.
Cross bores are a rare side effect that can happen when the machine used to install gas pipelines inadvertently bores through sewers, leaving the gas pipelines vulnerable to damage by cutting tools.
PSE Cross Bore Program
PSE’s service partner, Hydromax USA, examines all new trenchless installations of PSE natural gas pipelines to ensure no cross bores have been created. In addition, Hydromax USA is systematically checking at-risk sewers near all past trenchless installations.
Hydromax USA drives white trucks with PSE logos, and their employees carry PSE badges. When access to private property is necessary, door hangers are left instructing residents to call 1-800-371-3886 for an appointment. These examinations are to ensure your safety and are paid for by PSE. If a PSE cross bore is found, PSE pays to repair the portion of sewer damaged by the cross bore.
Hundreds of cross bores have already been found in PSE’s service area, and more are discovered every week. Other utilities have reported accidents resulting in loss of life and property. With your help, we can prevent such accidents from happening here. Unless PSE has told you or your drain-clearing professional that your sewer is clear of a gas pipeline, always call PSE first before you use a cutting tool to clear your sewer.
Tim Rabold, a technician with PSE service partner Hydromax USA, place a robotic camera down a sewer to inspect for a natural gas pipe line, visible on the monitor.
To contact a member of the PSE cross bore safety program, please email SewerSafety@PSE.com.