Posthole Problems 101

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Digging requires a lot more careful planning than most people

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Digging requires a lot more careful planning than most people realize. There are a number of things our machines could hit. Because we can’t see what is under the soil until after we’ve dug it up, it’s important to do as much research on the property as possible before grabbing the drills. This way we can do our best to prevent anything from happening, and be more equipped to handle anything that doesn’t exactly go according to plan.


Every now and then we will come across a property that is either covered with rocks or has them hidden underneath the soil. Large stones can cause the digging equipment to dull or stall, damaging your yard. If this is the case with your yard, there is no need to worry; we’ve got you covered.

rock pileSmaller rocks usually aren’t an issue with a post pounder. Depending on the yard it can actually eliminate the need to fill the hole. If there are too many rocks or if they are too large, post pounders may risk forcing your posts on an angle, or even break the post if you’re using wood. So naturally, you’ll want the larger rocks removed first. This can reveal smaller rocks or loosen the soil, making our job that much easier if we get it out of the way earlier. We begin this process by using a steel bar to wiggle the rock from all sides until we are able to get the bar underneath the stone. From there, we pry the rock from multiple angles until it is loose enough to be picked up or pushed to the side. If your rock is underground, we’ll need to dig a hole larger than the rock’s diameter to ensure there is room to pry if free. If your yard requires a more heavy duty solution, our jackhammer’s will surely get the job done!

Some people like to remove the bigger rocks themselves when marking the postholes prior to our arrival. If this is the case, do not try hitting the rocks from the top. Most of them won’t break and the ones that do can cause sharp pebbles flying your way. – not to mention it just pushes the rock deeper into the soil, putting you back at square one. Once free, you can make new use of the rocks for a garden, or to hold your posts in place.

Gas Lines

Remember, before booking us for a dig, ALWAYS contact Ontario One Call to make sure you not only know your property lines, but also the locations of any gas lines. One of the most common reasons they are hit during a dig occurs when the line is not properly marked or not marked at all. For extra precaution, have gas linethe lines exposed by hand at least 1 metre on either side. Trees and plants should also be planted within 1 metre minimum of any lines.

There are 3 ways of telling if a line has been hit:

Smell – Natural gas will smell strongly of petroleum. To make the scent more tolerable, as well as to better detect any problems that may arise, some contractors, add a chemical compound that gives off a sulphur like fragrance – in other words, if you smell rotten eggs, you’ve probably just hit a gas line.

Sound – If the line is of a higher pressure, you may hear a whistling noise, similar to air leaving a balloon – only not as fun

Sight – While the gas itself is colourless, higher pressure lines tend to freeze over. Look for signs of frost or condensation around the lines. The pressure from the hole can also cause dust, dirt or debris to blow around the lines. There are other signs to look out for depending on your location. In wetter or muddier areas, bubbling may occur around the hole, whereas in dryer places such as fields, you should keep an eye out for any sparking or flames.

If a line has been hit or if you suspect a line has been hit, immediately do the following:

  • Turn off all machinery
  • Remove and put out all sources of ignition (i.e cigarettes)
  • Notify the fire department and inform the neighbours
  • Evacuate the area and try to avoid the gas line in question when doing so.

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