Along the side of my property are high voltage direct bury electrical lines, I haven't uncovered them but before you dig service marked 3 red paint lines right down my property along the border. I have 10 foot steel posts I would like to place along this line and screw some cedar wood to them for a fence. Are there ANY safe ways to do this? Or what would you recommend? What I've read is that a 1 ft hole will not be deep enough to hold the fence up, someone suggested digging a very wide hole but not sure if that work. My last resort would be to ask my neighbor if I could dig on his side. T.I.A.

  • 2
    Move the fence. You will not be happy when steel post hits power line, will also piss off power company, but you won't care then. There are no dig fence designs you could try. Power company might not want fence on top of their lines/cables, they like to dig them up every so often, so inside your line or on neighbours probably only choice.
    – crip659
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 22:45
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    Are these high-voltage lines running to your house or your neighbors, or are these power lines used for some other purpose by the power company to connect some part of their infrastructure to some other part? If these are the PoCo's "infrastructure" lines then it's very likely that they have an easement on your and/or your neighbor's land and you're actually not allowed to build anything there - not even a fence...
    – brhans
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 23:05
  • Keep in mind that in most case the marked locates are +/- 3 ft. They also don't measure the depth. If you are going to be digging within 3 ft. of where the marks are you need to expose the buried utilities so that you know exactly where they are and can avoid them.
    – jwh20
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 12:43
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    When @crip659 says "you will not be happy", really he means your next of kin won't be happy. You won't care much any more.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:36
  • Read your deed to check for easements.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 0:44

2 Answers 2


They would not run a primary line across someone's property. It's a service lateral for sure. Usually down at least 2 ft and hopefully warning tape. Check with the power company first. Always be safe rather than sorry. A lineman will come out and meet with you, if it's a company worth a heck.

  • 1
    Yeah, worse comes to worse, the OP can "pothole" down to the line with a wet-dry vac and a lot of patience. Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 0:23
  • It could be a primary line running down a rear, side or front property line in an easement. Check for a "call before digging" phone number.
    – JACK
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 0:51
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    Absolutely, positively, 100% consult directly with the PoCo before digging anywhere near here.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:35

Proceed with care, certainly, but those marks don't spell doom for your project. The buried cables are small and the painted marks only approximate the location of the buried lines, plus or minus as much as a foot or two. Not only that, but the lines are likely to be buried deeper than the depth your fence posts require.

The industry-standard technique for an underground construction company in this scenario is called hydro excavation. They literally use a pressure washer to slice into the soil and a wet-dry vac to pick up the spoils. Their vacuum is industrial-size, but you can do it on a small scale with a US$100-150 home center variety wet-dry "shop" vac. The water jet will easily cut through soil but will not cut through the insulation on the buried cables.

I've written more detail about it in an answer there.

If you do happen to encounter any buried cables then work around them by moving the post or cutting it short. Ensure the cable is protected by soil or gravel and pour the concrete for the posts in such a way that the cable does not become entrapped by the concrete.

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