​​​​​Call Before You Clear

Informing the public of potential cross-bores since 2010

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What is the background of the “Call Before You Clear” campaign?

In 2010, Minnesotan natural gas utility companies launched the “Call Before You Clear” campaign that informed the public of the danger of potential cross-bores that can lead to a hazardous and unintended release of natural gas. The campaign requested that plumbers, sewer cleaning contractors and customers of natural gas companies in Minnesota should call their respective natural gas companies to camera a sewer pipe for potential cross-bores prior to cleaning a sewer pipe.

The companies sent letters to over 7,000 plumbers and sewer cleaning contractors in Minnesota. The companies also sent a press release to local media, tags on DIY equipment in local hardware stores, and bill inserts to their customers. All of these materials had the campaign’s message and the companies’ phone numbers and/or links to their home pages. Another communication piece was the CallBeforeYouClear.com website, which includes safety videos and FAQs to educate the public about cross bores.

The result was an increased awareness of potential cross-bores. The campaign’s recipients were encouraged to call their natural gas utility companies prior to cleaning a sewer lateral pipe. Because the campaign was a success, it was repeated in 2013.

What is CenterPoint Energy doing in 2018?

In May 2018, CenterPoint Energy reinvigorated the “Call Before You Clear” campaign with Xcel Energy, Minnesota Energy Resources and Greater Minnesota Gas. The campaign updated many of the communication materials used in previous campaigns. The 2018 communication materials included the following:

  • A letter to the 7,762 plumbers and sewer cleaning contractors in Minnesota
  • A press release to local media
  • Bill inse​rts for the companies’ customers

The campaign’s message was printed on these materials, in addition to the companies’ phone numbers and links to their home pages.

Why is CenterPoint Energy doing thi​​s?

The primary reasons for CenterPoint Energy’s interest in reinvigorating the campaign are as follows: 1) To reinvigorate awareness in plumbers, sewer cleaning contractors and customers regarding potential cross-bores. 2) To continue ensuring safety in the natural gas industry.

Who is the ​​audience?

  • The list of 7,762 plumbers and sewer cleaning contractors in Minnesota
  • Local media
  • The Minnesotan customers of CenterPoint Energy, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Energy Resources and Greater Minnesota Gas

What is the anticipated impact on CenterPoint Energy staff?

CenterPoint Energy’s phone number 1-855-820-0127 will be listed on the aforementioned communication materials. When customers call in with questions regarding sewer lateral pipes, cross-bores or related issues, CenterPoint Energy staff can answer these questions with the information provided on this sheet. Below is a list of additional anticipated questions and answers:

Q: Can I have CenterPoint Energy come out and run a camera through my sewer pipe?

A: Customers experiencing a sewer line blockage are advised by the “Call Before You Clear” campaign to contact their natural gas utility company via 811, who will dispatch the appropriate professionals to identify the cause of the blockage. If the blockage is a sewer lateral cross-bore, the company will work with the customer to properly remedy the situation at no cost to the customer.

Minnesota’s Gopher State One Call (811) can locate underground and aboveground utilities but not private lines or unmarked sewer lines. Plumbers and sewer contractors are the ones who can locate sewer pipes. The participating natural gas utility companies contract with professionals able to locate sewer lateral pipes to mitigate cross-bores.

Q: Will it cost me anything to have the natural gas utility company run a camera through my sewer pipe?

A: No, this cost will be covered by the utility. CenterPoint Energy does not determine costs for sewer inspections clearing of other obstructions. Costs for your plumber to clear other obstructions are determined by that entity or company.

Questions or comments about the “Call Before You Clear” campaign can be directed to Hannah Gullickson, Communication Specialist and “Call Before You Clear” Project Manager, at 612-321-5546.​