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Safely Unclogging Outside Sewer Lines

Atmos Energy and other utilities that use horizontal or trenchless boring to install buried lines have discovered some locations where the utility line was installed accidently through a sewer line outside a home or business. When this occurs, we call it a cross bore.

A cross bore with any utility line poses no safety risk as long as it is undamaged. However, if a natural gas line is cut or nicked while unclogging a sewer line, it can create a serious hazard. Damaging a natural gas line can cause a fire or explosion and lead to even more serious damage or injury to those working on the sewer line and people nearby.

Safety Tips for Sewer Work
  • Use a video inspection camera to identify the obstruction before using mechanical equipment.
  • Use an exterior cleanout to lessen the chance of natural gas entering a structure.
  • Use caution when operating power tools to clear a sewer line blockage.
  • Always call 811 before excavating.
  • Know the signs of a natural gas leak: rotten egg odor, hissing or roaring sound, bubbles in toilets or standing water.
  • If you smell gas, leave the area immediately and then call 911 or Atmos Energy at 1-866-322-8667. Click here for more natural gas safety tips.
If You Suspect a Natural Gas Cross Bore

If you find or suspect that a natural gas line is the cause of a sewer obstruction, contact Atmos Energy 1-866-322-8667. We will promptly respond to inspect the situation at no charge.

More Information

Plumbers and contractors - Watch this video and read the Safely Unclogging Outside Sewer Lines brochure. To request copies of the brochure, email crossboreinfo@atmosenergy.com.

Homeowners Watch this video to learn more about sewer clogs and natural gas safety.