Underground utilities are below-ground lines, structures, and installations that are used by service and utility providers to deliver their products/services to a building or home. Utilities commonly delivered this way include cable, internet, telephone (landline), water, sewer, electricity, natural gas, landscaping sprinklers, traffic signal power, and others.
These utilities are buried below and around buildings, including homes, and under streets and sidewalks. They are often buried to protect them from damage that might occur if they were above ground. For example, electrical wires are more vulnerable to damage from storms when they are hung in the air and are more protected when buried underground and encased in conduit.
But being underground doesn’t mean they are protected from all damage. To help protect the utilities from damage during construction and beyond, they are often installed in conduit, pipes, or other protective structures that prevent the weight of the earth above from damaging the utility being delivered.
In addition, specialized equipment may be required to protect the utilities or as a requirement for the services to continue to function. Examples of this special equipment are:
- Pump stations that help move sewage and water to locations when gravity is not powerful enough.
- Backflow preventers that protect drinking water from being contaminated by sprinkler water that may contain chemicals or pesticides.
- Box culverts are used to handle large volumes of storm water or run-off.
What is construction plumbing?
Plumbing is one of the main services that is often found underground on a construction project. Construction plumbing refers to the installation of the water, sewer, and natural gas systems in a house or building. The plumbing system in a building is composed of several components:
- Piping for water, sewer, rain drain, venting, and natural gas (found both above and below ground)
- Valves to shut off water or gas at the building/house and at each fixture or appliance
- Water heater
- Fixtures and appliances, including:
- Baths/showers/hot tubs
- Garbage disposal
- Washing machine
- Refrigerator (ice maker and water dispenser)
- Natural gas appliances
- Cooking stove
- Furnace/heat pump
- Water heater
Underground utility contractors often provide installation of the pipes, conduits, and structures that are used to transport the utilities to the home or building, including the plumbing system. Often specialized contractors (like plumbing and electrical) lay the wire and pipe for these systems while the excavation contractor digs the trenches. Suppliers may provide materials to both the utility and specialized contractors to complete the whole system.