Call before you clear

Blocked sewer line? It could be a cross bore.

A hidden hazard

A cross bore is defined as the intersection of an existing underground utility line and a second underground utility line, commonly installed by trenchless technology. In rare cases, this consists of an underground gas utility pipeline crossing though a sewer pipe. Often, the first sign of a cross bore is a sewer blockage that may cause the backup of wastewater in the home or yard.

If a sewer backup develops, a plumber or homeowner will attempt to clear the blockage typically utilizing mechanical equipment, risking damage to an underground utility and creating an unsafe situation. LG&E strongly encourages you or your plumber to camera-out lines prior to using any invasive methods of clearing the lateral. Unknowingly striking an underground utility line while clearing a sewer line can cause a gas leak, fire, explosion or electrocution. Take precaution by following the safety tips provided to prevent such accidents from happening.

dirt trench showing a cross bore through a sewer pipe

Safety tips

  • Before clearing — Contact 811 (by phone when you dial 811 or online when you visit This will start the notification process of locating and marking underground utility lines. This may identify intersecting lines. 
  • Locates and markings — Know your colors and respect the marks. If the locate markings identify intersecting lines, it may be a cross bore causing the blockage. Either use a camera to view the inside of the sewer and verify a cross bore or excavate by hand or other non-intrusive means to expose the potential cross bore. Utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, so dig cautiously. If a cross bore is identified, immediately notify LG&E at 502-589-1444. Do not proceed.
colors of flag markings
  • Clearing — Proceed with caution. Whenever possible, utilize an outside trap to clean out the sewer line. Use a camera inspection device to help identify the location or cause of blockage. Look for trees or landscaping that could be causing an obstruction. Do not use a cutting tool. Connect with the owner or occupant and ask if there has been recent utility work in the area. Use minimally invasive equipment such as a plumbing snake or water jet to attempt to clear the blockage. If a cross bore is discovered, stop all work. From a safe distance, call 911 and LG&E at 502-589-1444.
  • Safety is always the number one priority.
    LG&E is committed to providing safe, reliable and efficient natural gas service, and part of that commitment is ensuring our customers, excavators and plumbers follow safety guidelines when clearing sewer lines.
    • Every digging project requires a contact to 811. It's the law!
    • Hitting underground utility lines while digging can:
      • cause serious personal injuries
      • harm the environment
      • disrupt service to an entire neighborhood
      • lead to fines and repair costs
    • In the event you discover or cause damage, Stop excavation/digging/demolition activities immediately.
    • Notify all affected utility operators of the location (address) and nature of the damage.
    • All breaks, leaks, nicks, dents, gouges, grooves, scrapes or other damage to facility lines, conduits, coatings or cathodic protection should be reported to the appropriate utility operator for inspection.
    • If the damage should result in potential danger, evacuate the area right away and dial 911. Please note: If gas piping has been struck or otherwise damaged, be alert to ignition sources.

Take the time to save a line.

Consequences of digging blindly

In addition to the impact on the environment, risks to personal and public safety and inconvenience of a service disruption, digging without knowing or respecting the location of underground utility lines can carry significant fines issued by the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

An additional fine may be imposed per incident if the underground facility damage results in the escape of any flammable, toxic or corrosive gas or liquid. 811 continues to make an impact, and you and your organization can help. Protect yourself, your business, customers and the general public by incorporating a contact to 811 into your work processes. Let’s work together on damage prevention.

As the excavator, you are responsible for verifying all utilities are marked or cleared.

Each utility is responsible for locating its own facilities and may use employees, contractors, or both, meaning there will be multiple locators marking the approximate location of any underground utility lines or notifying you if there are no underground utilities in the area.

equipment breaking a utility line

Use your senses to detect a gas leak.


Discolored vegetation, bubbling in water or blowing dust.


A distinct odor, much like rotten eggs, is added to natural gas which is otherwise colorless and odorless.


Hissing, whistling or roaring noise.