If you are considering removing a tree stump on your property or garden, have you covered all of your bases? There is one certain point in the following article that is crucial before going full steam ahead. Some stumps can be very problematic to remove and then there is always the aftermath that needs to be cleaned up or reinstated. If you are considering stump removal and would like a quote to do so, please reach out on our contact us page. Our team at Proleaf cover the whole of Melbourne, Victoria and are happy to assist with any kind of tree stump or root removal. Anyway, back to the article.
No, you don’t have to have x-ray vision to determine if your stump is hovering above power cables or gas pipes. When carrying out any sort of excavation it is always a good idea to know what’s below. Stump removal or stump grinding is no different. Digging stumps out or using stump grinders around underground utilities can be potentially life-threatening as well as costly to the property owner and the contractor.
Starting with a visual site inspection is a good start. Looking for any signs that say “Do not dig or bore” is probably the first step. If you see one of these then a Dial Before You Dig application is Vital. We’ll get to that in a second. Another sign to look for is manhole covers, pits or junction boxes in the vicinity of the stump. If you find one of these then it’s a good idea to scan further afield for more. This will help you map out the network that’s below the ground to some extent. Certain services are meant to be installed at specific depths but this is commonly not the case. Don’t go by these numbers, especially if the stump is quite large and old. For example, you may find that the gas pipe installers couldn’t dig under the stump and laid the pipe where they could, not at the correct depth. If you have documents and plans for your property, there’s a good chance you might be able to see where the utilities are running underground.
Another indication of pipes or cables on your property could be where cables or pipes enter the property. Often a gas meter will be at the side of a house and generally, the pipe will run straight to the mains. A power or NBN cable might come up out of the ground and be attached to the side of the property. Be sure to check for this.
If your property has more than one building with power, water, gas, etc, you can be dead certain there will be pipes or cables underground or overground. If you have outdoor lighting, water features or power outlets in the garden then they have to be powered somehow, looking for these kind of assets should give you an indication.
DO NOT TOUCH OR ATTEMPT TO ALTER ANY UTILITY ON YOUR PROPERTY UNLESS YOU ARE A QUALIFIED OR TRAINED PROFESSIONAL.
If you do suspect there is underground utilities in the vicinity of a tree stump that have the potential to be damaged then don’t fear, there are several options available to you.
If you believe that a pipe or cable is running beneath a stump, the indicators described above can determine the approximate location. This location will be a good start to carry out a test dig. When carrying out a test dig it is important to dig slowly and avoid using any sharp objects. Hydro-excavation and air spading are the best tools for the job as they don’t involve any sharp objects going into the soil. Most test dig holes will be around 50cm by 50cm in area and down to around 60cm deep.
Most stump grinders can only grind down to a certain depth, usually between 40 and 60cm. It is worth going slightly deeper than the specifications of the machine to allow for uneven ground etc.
If a cable or pipe is discovered when carrying out test digs for the stump removal, it is best to employ an underground service mapping company to scan the ground and give more accurate information. Mapping the underground services will show the depths and locations of any utilities present. This will then allow the contractor to decide on the appropriate work methodology. Sometimes power or pipes need to be shut down before any work can commence to prevent any accidents or damage.
Stump removal contractors should have sufficient knowledge in dealing with these situations and will be able to carry out all of the above. At Proleaf, if we suspect any underground utilities or pipes we can provide underground service mapping and test digs if necessary.
Dial before you dig, is a free service that anybody can use. D.Y.B.D for short will collate any underground plans for the address provided from most utility companies. The plans usually come through in just a few hours although you may have to wait a bit longer for some. The plans can be very technical to read or study, this is why it is best to hire a professional to carry out the service mapping. Most companies will carry out a dial before you dig application on your behalf if they suspect there may be complications with the stump removal.
If you see any of the signs above or any other indications of underground utilities, don’t take the risk by digging or stump grinding yourself. Hire a reputable company who have experience in dealing with stumps around utilities. Generally speaking, rural properties will have less to worry about than city properties, however, when talking about power or gas, it’s not worth taking a chance.