Can You Pour Concrete Over Buried Power Lines?

Power lines are critical for supplying electricity to your home. If you have underground electrical connections that you want to cover, you might consider encasing them using concrete. We researched this topic, so continue reading to find out if pouring concrete over buried power lines is possible.

Yes, you can pour concrete over buried power lines, but you should seek professional assistance if you decide to do it. Before you proceed, you need to call 811 and check if any permits are required. There are preparations that you need to do, such as digging and having the site surveyed. 

It is also important to ensure safety when working with power lines. You must consult your local utility providers to find out if they will allow you to pour concrete. Read on to learn how to pour concrete without damaging buried power lines. 

A construction worker pouring a wet concret at road construction site, Can You Pour Concrete Over Buried Power Lines?

Is Pouring Concrete Over Buried Power Lines Possible?

Yes, pouring concrete over power lines is possible, but it should be done carefully. You should not treat it as a DIY project because it is highly technical. You should call professionals for help with the proper execution.  

You shouldn't start the project right away. There are factors to consider and necessary preparations to make. You also need to follow some tips to keep the power lines working while ensuring your safety. Read more below. 

Concrete pouring during commercial concreting floors of building

Considerations

The first thing to think about is the purpose of the project. You might want your underground lines to have some protection. External elements such as rain, ice, and wind can disrupt the electrical connections at home.

You can also have bare power lines in your lawn that are dangerous if left without any covering. In this situation, there is a big chance of tripping and electrocution.

Another thing to consider is future repairs. Once the poured concrete dries, removal would be complicated. If the lines need repairs, you might need to break down the concrete before you can access the power lines. You should fix any problems with the connections before pouring the concrete.

Also, you need to account for the time, effort, and cost of this project. The project must serve its purpose so you don't waste the money you invested.

Preparations

You will need to excavate the area where your power lines are. You should "call before you dig": contact your local utility locater service to set up an appointment before you do this. The national number to call is 811. You should call three to four days prior to the beginning of excavation.

They will inspect the site where you want to add concrete. They will mark the location and insert flags where the power lines are under the ground.

You should also call the various companies of the different utility lines to find out how deep the lines are, so you will know how far to dig. If there are lines and pipes in the dig zone, you can ask the companies to move them for you.

Obtain a copy of the approved electrical layouts before starting the project. The developer should provide the approved backfill to cover the underground power lines.

You should also conduct a site survey. Check for possible hazards in the surroundings. Take action to remove any hazards before you begin the project. The area should be free of any obstructions.

Tips To Follow

You should take the proper precautions because this project is costly and dangerous. You will keep the power lines in good working condition if you follow these best practices.  

  • Check if you need permits to start the work
  • Dig using a handheld fiberglass shovel 
  • Wear personal protective gear
  • Dig within the tolerable zone dimension (around 18-24 inches, depending on state regulations)
  • Do not dig right away
  • Do not break, nick, or pull the lines
  • Do not touch any power line with bare hands or any conducting materials

A construction worker pouring a wet concret at road construction site

Process

Below is the process for pouring concrete over buried power lines. We advise that you have professionals do this job.

  1. Call 811 and the companies that have connecting lines to your home. 
  2. Take note of the marking posts around the area. You should not dig beyond the posts because the power lines can get damaged.
  3. Prepare the site for digging. Follow the locations indicated in the electrical layout. Dig within the tolerable zone allowed by your state.
  4. Make sure the base where you pour concrete is fully compact. This will prevent concrete expansion and the absorption of water. You should also create trenches and fill them with sand or gravel. 
  5. Mix the concrete.
  6. Once you get the correct consistency, you should add a waterproof membrane on the gravel base to prevent water migration.
  7. Then pour the concrete into the area. 
  8. Let the concrete cure. The concrete should develop 4,000 minimum psi 28 days after pouring.

What Problems Can Arise When Pouring Concrete Over Underground Power Lines?

Due to the nature of power lines, there is a high risk of electrocution. High voltage from the power lines can cause injuries or death to anyone who does not take the necessary precautions. That is why it is very important to call 811 for projects like pouring concrete over utility lines. 

If you need to fix the power lines, you may run into problems. There is no guarantee that the power lines are going to work well after several years. The lines can also wear out, so adding a permanent covering can be a problem.

You would need to locate the connections before removing the concrete, so you would wind up spending additional time and money.

Furthermore, pouring concrete to protect the power lines is not a guarantee against damage. The electrical lines are still susceptible to natural calamities such as earthquakes and flooding. Also, the strength and quality of the poured concrete can diminish over time. 

What Concrete To Use For Underground Power Lines?

Pouring ready-mixed concrete after placing steel reinforcement, concrete mixing

If you pour concrete to cover power lines, it will be permanent, so you should use the right concrete to ensure that electrical connections continue working.  

The two acceptable types of concrete are flowable thermal backfill (FTB) and controlled density fill (CDF).

The FTB dissipates the thermal energy generated from the power lines. It is best to use it if you have multiple lines in a common trench. Similarly, the CDF is also a flowable fill that easily fills small and hard-to-reach voids while providing support. 

There are also additives in the concrete mix to make it suitable underground. The additives, like geopolymer, prevent water migration to the buried power lines because they can absorb the water well compared to sand and cement concrete mix.

Using sand and bentonite mix for underground high-voltage power lines is very helpful. The mixture has great compressive strength and thermal capacity, and it effectively protects the power lines.

Furthermore, the concrete mix should be lean and have 10 pounds of red oxide pigment per cubic yard. 

How Much Does It Cost To Pour Concrete Over Power Lines?

The cost of pouring concrete varies. It depends on the following factors:

  • Concrete grade
  • Location
  • Reinforcements
  • Site preparations
  • Square footage
  • Thickness
  • Type of finish

The cost starts from $278 for concrete alone. Beyond that, you will also incur excavation and trenching costs. The process involves equipment costs between $4-12 per linear foot and labor costs of around $5.75 per foot. 

For this project, you will need certified electricians, excavators, and laborers. So your costs can rise depending on their rates.

Is There Insurance For Buried Power Lines?

Construction worker Concrete pouring during commercial concreting floors of building in construction site and Civil Engineer

Yes, there is insurance coverage for buried utility lines, including underground electrical wiring. The insurance covers damage due to the following:

  • Corrosion
  • Digging
  • Ground freeze
  • Invasion of tree roots
  • Rodents
  • Rust
  • Wear and tear

Spending on repairs is expensive. You can minimize your expenses when you insure the buried power lines. However, you can only submit claims when you meet the policy terms and conditions. 

In Summary

It is possible to pour concrete over buried power lines. However, you should consider critical factors such as costs and future repairs. The process starts with calling 811. You should also obtain the necessary permits before you begin work.

Your local utility providers can locate the power lines for you. This step is critical so that you avoid striking live power lines. If you want quality results, ask professionals to help you with this project.

Read more about concrete projects from these posts:

Will Concrete Cure Under Dirt?

Can You Pour Concrete Over A Utility Easement?

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