All Utility Lines are Not Created Equal

Imagine walking out your front door one morning and instead of grabbing the paper or hopping in your car to head to work, you see a backhoe at the end of your sidewalk – merrily digging away.

Now imagine that instead of carefully digging up the pre-marked water pipes from the city or their own gas lines, the backhoe operator is cluelessly destroying your underground sprinkler system. Upon closer inspection by the homeowner, it is clear that there is a sprinkler head in the fresh hole and a torn section of irrigation piping.

When inquiring to the digging crew whether or not they were aware you had an irrigation system, they respond, “Where?” To which the unfortunate homeowner replies, “You’re sitting right on top of it!” This is a true encounter, and it gets worse before it gets better!

True Story

As gas company contractors make their way through local Kansas City, Missouri neighborhoods to replace aged gas lines, you’ll notice the spray painted marks or even yard marking flags they leave behind. These yard flags indicate water lines, natural gas lines, and other caution zones. Unfortunately, most of these contractors don’t appear to be in the business of marking above-ground sprinkler heads or underground sprinkler lines before they dig. And when they dig, severe – and expensive – sprinkler system damage can happen.

One longtime Heinen customer recently shared their very own frustrating experience. The local gas company replacing natural gas lines along his street tore into his lawn and destroyed multiple sprinkler heads and irrigation supply lines.

According to the customer, “the Spire gas company guys were in my front yard digging and I asked them if they were aware of my sprinkler system. They asked ‘Where is it?’ and I told them ‘Your backhoe is sitting on top of it right now.’ They then told me ‘Oh, we have a contractor who will fix anything we break.’” “Needless to say,” the homeowner stated, “I was skeptical.”

He noticed the company’s equipment was sitting in an already deep hole, along with his sprinkler heads and irrigation tubing. “Unreal,” the customer exclaimed. “I pulled the sprinkler head and a broken piece of tube out of the hole and put it on the sidewalk….they routinely mark for water and gas lines but there is absolutely no communication with the homeowner about the sprinkler systems.” When the contractors had finished for the day, the customer noted that they “just put a cone over the damage and left.”

Once the contractors had finished their work, a crew came and replaced our client’s broken sprinkler heads with cheap replacements (not calibrated with correct rotors or distance for the water spray), and the irrigation system had been covered with dirt. The customer turned his system on and it was clear the line had not been replaced – as the water was now bubbling up from underground near a set of forms where they were clearly planning to pour concrete to replace the former sidewalk.

The next morning, the homeowner reached out to the crews, now working a few houses down, and made them aware that there was a broken irrigation line and that it may not be wise to pour the new sidewalk until the line was fixed. The crew assured the homeowner it would be taken care of.

However, by that evening, new concrete had been poured, more soil had been backfilled, seed had been dropped, and straw had been placed on top of the whole mess. When the homeowner gave the system a quick test, water again gurgled up from underground – now directly next to the newly poured concrete!

Upset by this lack of consideration and the feeble repairs, the customer decided to take a different route. He called Heinen and asked their irrigation pros to repair the system the right way, commenting, “I’m going to contact the gas company today to let them know I’d rather have Heinen repair my system this and get it done right. I’ll also be sending Spire a copy of the invoice – but whether Spire reimburses me or not, I want my irrigation system performing the way it was designed to.”

Mark Your System Before They Dig

The first step to avoiding damaged irrigation lines and half-hearted repair work is to be watchful. Have you spotted local contractors – like gas company trucks – parked up your street or perhaps one street over? Perhaps you’ve noticed new spray paint lines on sidewalks near your home. Or, you’ve seen a few new yard flags littering your lawn. It may be months before the actual contractors arrive and start working in your yard – or it could be days! Since you don’t know when the workers will arrive, here are some helpful tips to protect your lawn & irrigation system!

  1. Mark Your Territory – Purchase inexpensive yard markers from your local hardware store. Place these lawn flags beside your sprinkler heads.
  2. Call Before They Dig – If you don’t remember where your underground irrigation tubing is, but you know that Heinen installed it, then it’s definitely worth a call to Heinen to mark the system.
  3. Speak Directly With The Contractors – Once you spot the crew in your yard or at the house next door, it’s probably a good idea to warn the team about your sprinkler system.
  4. Know Your Rights – If your system is damaged in spite of these precautions, the company may offer to “take care of the repairs.” Practically speaking, this means you may receive low-quality replacements. You don’t have to settle for shoddy workmanship.Irrigation Kansas City
  5. Choose the BEST team – You may be able to have Heinen come out and properly repair your system and then send the bill to the company who damaged your property. Make sure to take photos of the damage and the company’s presence on your property.

Heinen Installation and Repairs

Whether you’re looking to install a new irrigation system, repair your current system, or even upgrade, Heinen has the irrigation pros for the job! With over 30 years of experience, Heinen has the tools and expert teams to handle all your irrigation needs. Call Debbie at Heinen today at (913) 432-5011, or contact us online for a no-obligation consult!