Using a sewer clearing machine?
Call PSE first. 1-888-225-5773
On rare occasions, natural gas pipelines could be installed through sewer service lines. Called cross bores, these are safe unless disturbed. Puget Sound Energy considers any blocked sewer a potential cross bore and treats it as if it were a gas emergency. Call PSE and our gas first responders will arrive, promptly, within 60 minutes to help determine if it is safe to clear your blocked sewer.
Safety Tips for Customers
Experiencing problems with your sewers?
- Call or ask your sewer clearing professional to contact PSE at 1-888-225-5773 prior to clearing the drain. 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 a line 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 leak.
Safety Tips for Sewer Clearing Professionals
Read these safety tips for professionals working with sewers in the PSE service territory.
Rare but Real Danger
Learn about the cross bore danger, how cross bores happen, and why they are important.
What is a cross bore?
When a gas line is installed or replaced, utilities commonly dig underground horizontally to avoid damaging existing surface structures, such as roads, sidewalks and landscaping. This installation method is more efficient and less invasive than open trenching.
Unfortunately, due to unmarked sewer pipes, these installation methods can unknowingly cause a gas facility to be inserted through a sewer pipe. This is called a cross bore.
Why is it important?
Though cross bores are rare and pose almost no threat unless damaged, for example, by a sewer clearing machine, they do occur, and the danger they pose is real. If a sewer clearing machine damages a cross bore while attempting to remove a sewer blockage, natural gas could enter your home or business, posing a very serious safety issue.
How do they happen?
Cross bores happen because sewer lines are typically made of material that is difficult to detect by electronic locating equipment. Therefore, a contractor may inadvertently bore through an existing sewer line even after calling 811 Call Before You Dig and using a locating service to identify the underground utilities in the path.
PSE Cross Bore Program
Cross bore hazards are real. PSE can help.
PSE and Hydromax USA, our authorized contractor, use camera technology to inspect sewer pipes to identify and eliminate existing cross bores.
Hydromax USA may need to enter your home or business: It is not always possible to access your sewer service from the main outside your property.
When found, cross bores are removed, and gas and sewer pipes are repaired at no cost to you.
Technicians send a camera into the sewer system of a neighborhood to check for cross-boring.
If you have questions about PSE's cross bore safety program, please email SewerSafety@PSE.com.