80 foot trench for propane line

racerboy

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B2601
May 10, 2021
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I am adding a adding 100gal propane tank for a new kitchen range (and eventual heater for the shop). The tank is going to be set behind a shed and I need to dig an 80 foot trench for the propane line. Municipal code requires the trench to be 24” deep, and there needs to be 6” of sand for the pipe to lay on. I don’t think there is a required width. I don’t know the exact width of the backhoe bucket on my B2601, but I’m guessing it’s around 12” (I’ll measure it tomorrow). Would you recommend I just use the bucket? I do have a BXpanded Talon Ripper. Would that do the job? I’ve never used it, and it is only 15” deep. I’m just trying to minimize the bags of sand I have to buy, and figured if I had a trench narrower than my bucket, it would be easier to fill. If the Talon Ripper won’t work, can I get a skinny bucket? And if so, can I get it fast. Want to dig trench this weekend. I guess one option would be to use the standard backhoe bucket for the first pass, say 12” deep and then switch the the gallon for the other 12”, I just wasn’t sure how good the ripper would be for this job. I bought it to break up roots. Appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!
556550F7-BD2C-4B07-AE16-BB07E9D2A258.jpeg
 
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The Evil Twin

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L2501
Jul 19, 2022
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I did our line to the generator with a small Ditch Witch. It cut a nearly perfect 6" wide trench in about an hour. That includes me learning how to use it in the area we are putting a RV turn around. Granted, it was $300 for the weekend but I didn't want to buy something I wouldn't use again.
I should have planned better and trenched the downspout lines away from the house but needed to get the gas installed and pressurized for inspection.
 
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DeepWoods

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Maybe a dumb question, but if I had to dig a trench where I am, all I would dig through IS sand. Do you know what your soil is composed of already? I might have to pick out an occasional rock, but could lay the copper right in the trench and bury it.
 
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The Evil Twin

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It's NJ so it could be anything from sand to rock to mafia hits. My guess is rocky since they are requiring bedding. They do that in some areas around here.
Fortunately for me, PE pipe is allowed so 70' was cheap compared to copper. Some regions don't allow copper to be direct buried due to the Ph of the soil. I could have done either but 3/4 copper is $$$
 
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D2Cat

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Yep, rent a trencher. Some of the money you spend on the trencher will come from not nearly as much sand required. The width of the trench will end up about 5" in width.

Also remember, if you're getting inspected the depth required (24", you mentioned) is to the TOP of the buried pipe.
 
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Flintknapper

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May 3, 2022
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Trencher is the way to go. I didn't have to go as deep where I am (just 12", but went 18").

Rented a mini trencher for the day. 60' foot run in red clay with some roots and fist sized iron ore rocks. Took two passes. Couple of hours work going slowly. Trench was about 3.5"-4" wide.

No way I'd use a backhoe bucket especially if you need to fill some amount of trench with sand.

You're probably looking at 1/2"-3/4" piping/tubing, unless local code dictates a specific width....I wouldn't make it wider than necessary just because you already have the equipment. Might be better to just rent a trencher and be done with it.
 
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Motion

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As always do as you feel is best, I agree a trencher is the way to go, ensure the line is sized for the task and any future needs i.e. generator. I'd also suggest installing detectable tape, it's cheap enough before you backfill.
 

The Evil Twin

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L2501
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@Motion brings up a good point. Best practice is to drop a wire for a signal generator in the trench with the pipe. Especially if you go poly. There are locators that can detect non metallic lines but they are not as common or cheap to rent. A signal wire can be a DIY detection.
 

GreensvilleJay

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BX23-S
Apr 2, 2019
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Agree , use a trencher..MUSH faster for little money !
While you're at it, lay in a 1" polypipe for future 'communications' cable(CAT5) for remote camera,security,etc.
if you don't do it now....next year you'll be kicking yourself saying ' Why,didn't I , grrrrrrrrrrrrrr'
Also tape a 14/1 'conduit wire' to the pipeline, to be used as a tracer . Standard proceedure here.
Oh yeah, take pictures ! from house to shed, shed to house..just in case you forget to put the wire into the trench....
And.... maybe run the PE gas line inside a 2" (??) poly pipe. Adds protection and if needed to be replaced, it'll be a simple 'pull' not a 'dig' ordeal...
 
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mikester

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Bury some yellow plastic 4" wide caution tape a foot above your lines. Take lots of photos and measurements to landmarks. Mark it on your site plan (screen shot from google earth works great!). You or someone will thank you later.
 
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D2Cat

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Call for locates at least 3 days before you want to begin digging. If utilities are located within 24" of your dig zone you have to hand dig until your 24" away from the marked line.
 

Henro

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May 24, 2019
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If you did not have a backhoe then I agree a trencher would be the way to go.

However, in my case I had a backhoe and used it to install a 100 foot water line and a 200 foot sewer line at my place, and it just was easier for me, at least with the 100 foot water line, when you take into consideration the time you need to get the trencher, use it, return it and so on.

For my 4" sewer line I don't think a trencher would have been workable. At least not for me personally. Sewers went in a while back, and I never saw a trencher being used anywhere, always a backhoe. BUT is did not pay much attention either...

If I were you, only 80 feet! I would use my backhoe and have it done in less time that I would need to spend getting, using and returning the trencher. Rental money would likely cover the extra sand needed to fill the bottom of the trench...and more.
 
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The Evil Twin

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If you did not have a backhoe then I agree a trencher would be the way to go.

However, in my case I had a backhoe and used it to install a 100 foot water line and a 200 foot sewer line at my place, and it just was easier for me, at least with the 100 foot water line, when you take into consideration the time you need to get the trencher, use it, return it and so on.

For my 4" sewer line I don't think a trencher would have been workable. At least not for me personally. Sewers went in a while back, and I never saw a trencher being used anywhere, always a backhoe. BUT is did not pay much attention either...

If I were you, only 80 feet! I would use my backhoe and have it done in less time that I would need to spend getting, using and returning the trencher. Rental money would likely cover the extra sand needed to fill the bottom of the trench...and more.
Excellent point! He would need twice the sand but not paying a rental.
One other thing to consider (while minor) is fuel. I put 2 hours on the trencher meter and added 2 quart of fuel. I'd burn more diesel hours with a hoe. But I'm not good with hoes. There is a rental place close so I picked it up Friday after work and returned it Saturday morning
 

Freeheeler

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b2650 tlb
Aug 16, 2018
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Knoxville, TN
I've done it both ways. For one line (before I had my backhoe) I rented a ditchwitch on Friday after work and returned it Monday before work for a single days rental. A few years later I did another trench (both about 240 feet) with my BH77 because I could. It took about 4 times longer with the backhoe. I took my time and was in "learn mode". If I had to do another one in a short amount of time, I'd rent a ditchwitch again. If time is not a constraint, I'd use my BH. One thing that is hard to put a price on is the proficiency you learn with time on the BH.
 
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Jchonline

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I am adding a adding 100gal propane tank for a new kitchen range (and eventual heater for the shop). The tank is going to be set behind a shed and I need to dig an 80 foot trench for the propane line. Municipal code requires the trench to be 24” deep, and there needs to be 6” of sand for the pipe to lay on. I don’t think there is a required width. I don’t know the exact width of the backhoe bucket on my B2601, but I’m guessing it’s around 12” (I’ll measure it tomorrow). Would you recommend I just use the bucket? I do have a BXpanded Talon Ripper. Would that do the job? I’ve never used it, and it is only 15” deep. I’m just trying to minimize the bags of sand I have to buy, and figured if I had a trench narrower than my bucket, it would be easier to fill. If the Talon Ripper won’t work, can I get a skinny bucket? And if so, can I get it fast. Want to dig trench this weekend. I guess one option would be to use the standard backhoe bucket for the first pass, say 12” deep and then switch the the gallon for the other 12”, I just wasn’t sure how good the ripper would be for this job. I bought it to break up roots. Appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!
View attachment 90237

The gas line is a polycarbonate (like PEX tubing) with a detection wire (at least they are in CO by code).

You wont need it very wide at all to fit it. Just dont do any right angles and you should be fine. I dug mine with a 12 inch bucket. An 8 inch wide trench would have been fine also.

If you hit roots or really tough spots you could throw the ripper on to loosen up the area.

Most importantly...why only 100 gal? Thats not going to heat a shop for very long.
 

Geezer3d

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Apr 22, 2021
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So much depends on the soil conditions. Sand is not expensive in bulk, just get a yard delivered. It does not have to be the same quality required for concrete.
 

ctfjr

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I agree with Henro about the backhoe. You have it, use it. It's not like its a 36" bucket. As other posters have said sand is cheap (even with a delivery charge).
I would also run some kind of plastic pipe for future use. As others have said you may want a cat 5 cable out there or who knows what else - plastic pipe is cheap. I would drop a 2" in there.
The marking tape is a good idea as well as the tracer wire.

You can really make this little project into a big one!
 
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North Idaho Wolfman

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The gas line is a polycarbonate (like PEX tubing) with a detection wire (at least they are in CO by code).
Gas line is Polyethylene not polycarbonate (that's bullet proof glass plastic).
It's the same plastic as PEX just not crosslinked, doesn't need to be because gas lines are low pressure.
 
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DustyRusty

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Some jurisdictions don't allow you to put another cable in the same trench as a gas line. I wanted to put both a telephone and internet cable in PVC along with a propane line and was told that it was unacceptable. In the end, I had a wide trench dug by the excavator and installed individual PVC pipes about a foot apart and that was acceptable. Even put the electrical line into that trench. 6" sand underneath and 12" sand on top. Caution tape 12" below the surface.