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I have a pipe of some kind buried about 6" below grade in my backyard. Photos are provided below. I have no idea what this line might be, and was hoping to solicit ideas. Whatever it is, it appears to be abandoned / unused, judging from the poor condition of the line. I have the local "Dig Safe" utility authorities coming next week to map out known services, but would like to know in case they do not have record of this.

It looks like the line would run between my house and my garage. But I have no plumbing in the garage (6" seems to shallow for water anyways). I have electricity but that cable is aerial, along with phone and cable lines from the back alley to the main house. The gas main is under the road at the front of my house, and so my gas meter / line are obviously there too. Similarly, the water main and water line are at the front of my house.

The garage was rebuilt about 5 years ago (before I owned the place), so I don't know if this pipe might have been used with the old garage and since abandoned.

I live in Toronto, Canada, if that factors in.

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  • Any chance it's a grounding rod? – Jim Garrison May 26 '16 at 1:39
  • Can you post a picture with something next to it for scale? How old is your home? – Jimmy Fix-it May 26 '16 at 2:23
  • @JimmyFix-it I will try an get this scale photo tomorrow. It's ballpark 0.5" diameter at the narrow part. – Roberto May 26 '16 at 2:48
  • Sounds like it may be tubing. Is there a chance there was propane gas supply in the foggy past? Was there indication of a protective "cap" of slurry or cement over it at one time? Was there a ribbon or red color dirt around when you dug it up? Is that coating just mud or maybe a protective cover? – Jimmy Fix-it May 26 '16 at 3:05
  • @JimmyFix-it propane gas - I doubt it, because I see no other evidence of this, but who knows? No indication of concrete cap. No ribbon or red colour dirt of any kind. The coating does not appear to be mud. It seems like some sort of covering (actually, it feels like flaking rust, so maybe a metallic covering of some kind?) – Roberto May 26 '16 at 4:06
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It turned out to be abandoned electrical. Photos below (cell phone for scale)

DigSafe came out and confirmed it was not a City service (gas, hydro, transit, water, etc.) They checked out the line and agreed it was strange it was so shallow; definitely not one of theirs. So we excavated a little more and eventually realized it is not a pipe, but a sheathed cable (with the sheathing completely deteriorated). Tested for voltage (there was none).

So I think this must have been how electricity used to get to the garage. As I mentioned, the garage was completely rebuilt a couple of years ago, and they put in a proper aerial connection at that time.

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Start by calling 1-800-DIG-SAFE or the local equivalent. Keeping track of what's under the surface is their specialty. If it's anything potentially dangerous or expensive, they may already know about it. If not, they can help you figure out whether it's anything more than a sprinkler system.

  • Might be a different number to call in Canada/Toronto... on1call.com/homeowners – Ecnerwal May 26 '16 at 2:44
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    @keshlam - thanks. As mentioned in the post, they have already been contacted and are coming next week. – Roberto May 26 '16 at 2:44

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