How Moles Damage Underground Utilities

As we go about our daily lives, we seldom think of the intricate network of underground utilities that keep our homes and cities running smoothly. From water mains and gas lines to electrical cables and fiber optics, these vital systems ensure that we have access to the resources we need. However, the presence of moles can threaten to disrupt these systems, causing damage that may be expensive to repair and dangerous to ignore. If you’ve noticed signs of mole activity in your yard, it’s crucial to understand how these animals can harm underground utilities and what you can do to prevent it.

Identification of mole damage

Identification Of Mole Damage
If you notice suspicious signs of underground activity in your lawn or garden, it may be worthwhile to investigate for mole damage. Moles are one of the most common pests causing damage to underground utility systems, including gas, water, and electric lines. To prevent costly repairs or even hazardous situations, it is essential to recognize the signs of mole damage early on. In this section, we will explore the process of identifying mole damage and distinguishing it from damage caused by other pests. We will also discuss how mole damage affects lawn health and vital underground utilities.

Detecting mole presence

Detecting the presence of moles is the first step in identifying mole damage to underground utilities. Here are some ways to detect the presence of moles:

  • Observing mole hills: Moles create a network of tunnels underground and push soil to the surface, creating visible mole hills.
  • Checking for surface ridges: Moles create surface ridges as they travel along the tunnels. These ridges can be identified by running a finger along them. They are usually straight and continuous.
  • Using a probe: A probe can be inserted into the ground to detect the presence of tunnels.
  • Observing visual damage: Moles create damage to plants and grass by tunneling and upending soil. If there are visible signs of damage to the lawn, garden, or flower beds, this could be a sign of a mole presence.

It is important to note that other pests, such as voles and gophers, can cause damage similar to moles. It is important to properly identify the signs of mole damage using proper identification techniques to ensure effective treatment.

Identifying mole tracks and mounds

Identifying mole tracks and mounds is crucial in detecting mole damage to underground utilities. There are several signs that can help identify the presence of moles in the area. One of the most common signs is the presence of mole tracks and mounds.

Mole Tracks

Signs of Mole Tracks Description
Surface ridges These are raised areas on the soil surface, often forming irregular wavy lines. Mole tracks usually follow a straight path and are deeper than tracks made by other small mammals.
Loose soil Moles dig tunnels underground and push soil to the surface, leaving loose dirt around the tunnel entrance. These tunnels can also lead to the formation of holes in the ground.
Indentations These are caused by the weight of moles as they move through the soil, leaving small depressions in the ground. The indentations are often found in grassy areas and can make mowing difficult.

Mole Mounds

Signs of Mole Mounds Description
Conical mounds Moles create underground tunnels and push up soil to the surface, forming conical shaped mounds, which are usually less than 6 inches tall. These mounds are often found in gardens and flower beds, damaging or dislodging plants.
U-shaped mounds These mounds are formed when moles tunnel just under the surface, causing the ground to lift. The shape of the mound is usually U-shaped or crescent-shaped, with the opening of the U pointing towards the direction from which the mole came.
Soil plugs Mole mounds usually contain a soil plug, which is a clump of soil left protruding from the surface of the mound. These soil plugs are usually cigar-shaped and made up of soil from deeper layers of the ground.

Identifying mole tracks and mounds early on can help prevent further damage to underground utilities. For more information on preventing and repairing mole damage, see our article on mole damage prevention tips.

Mole damage to underground utilities

Mole Damage To Underground Utilities
When it comes to lawn care and garden maintenance, moles can be a problematic pest. Not only do they create unsightly mounds and tunnels on the surface, but they can also cause damage to underground utilities. This can lead to costly repairs and potential safety hazards in the long run. Understanding the types of utilities that are at risk, how moles cause damage, and the warning signs to look out for is crucial in preventing further damage. In this section, we will discuss the impact of mole damage to underground utilities and explore ways to prevent it from happening. To learn more about other types of damage caused by moles, check out our article on mole damage versus other pests in the lawn.

Types of underground utilities affected by moles

Moles are capable of causing significant damage to underground utilities, which can lead to serious problems for homeowners and businesses. Here are some of the types of underground utilities that are commonly affected by moles, along with their associated risks:

  • Electrical cables: Moles that burrow near electrical cables can cause damage to the protective casing around the cables, which can in turn cause electrical fires and even electrocution if the damage goes undetected.
  • Water mains: When moles burrow near water mains, they can cause pipes to leak or even burst, leading to water damage and expensive repairs.
  • Gas lines: Similar to water mains, moles that burrow near gas lines can cause leaks, which can be extremely dangerous and may even lead to explosions.
  • Sewer lines: Mole damage to sewer lines can cause blocked drains or even backflow into homes or businesses, leading to unsanitary and unpleasant living conditions.

It’s important to monitor for signs of mole damage to underground utilities to prevent these types of hazards from occurring. Regular inspections by a professional are recommended, especially following any landscaping or digging activities. Additionally, homeowners and businesses should take steps to prevent mole activity and address any mole damage promptly to minimize the risks associated with these hazards. For more information on preventing and repairing mole damage, check out our article on ‘How to Repair Lawn Damage from Moles‘.

How moles cause damage to underground utilities

When moles burrow through the soil, they can cause damage to underground utilities such as pipes, wires, and cables that are buried beneath the ground. This can lead to costly repairs and disruptions in utility services for homes and businesses.

Types of damage caused by moles to underground utilities:

Damage Description
Crushed or broken pipes As moles tunnel, they can accidentally run into and damage pipes, causing them to crack or break. This can lead to leaks, water damage, and loss of water pressure.
Fractured wires or cables Moles can also damage wires or cables, either by biting through them or by loosening them from their connections. This can disrupt internet or electrical services and create safety hazards.
Displaced soil As moles dig their tunnels, they can displace soil and cause it to cave in or shift. This can accidentally loosen or uproot nearby utility lines.

Moles are particularly attracted to moist soil, which is why they tend to cause the most damage to underground utilities located in lawns and gardens. In fact, mole damage to lawns is one of the most common problems reported by homeowners with mole infestations.

It is important to address mole infestations quickly in order to prevent further damage to underground utilities. Homeowners can take preventive measures such as installing physical barriers or applying repellents to deter moles from digging near utility lines. If mole damage has already occurred, professionals may need to be called in to make repairs and remove the pests from the area. Learn more about these options in the sections on preventing and treating mole damage to underground utilities.

Warning signs of mole damage to utilities

One of the most frustrating things about mole damage to underground utilities is that it can be difficult to detect until significant damage has already been done. However, there are a few warning signs that homeowners can be on the lookout for.

Here are some warning signs of mole damage to utilities:

  • Unusually high water bills: If you notice a spike in your water bill, it could be a sign of a leak caused by mole damage.
  • Low water pressure: Damage to underground pipes can cause a decrease in water pressure throughout the home or property.
  • Gas smell: If you smell gas in or around your property, it could be a sign of a gas line damaged by moles. This is a serious safety concern and should be addressed immediately.
  • Electrical issues: If you experience frequent power outages or notice flickering lights, it could be a sign of moles chewing through electrical wires.
  • Sewage issues: Mole damage to sewer pipes can cause sewage backups, foul odors, and slow draining water in sinks, toilets and showers.
  • Sinking or sloping ground: Damage to underground pipes and utility lines can cause the ground to sink or slope unnaturally.

It is important to address any potential signs of mole damage to underground utilities as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage and potential safety concerns. If any of these warning signs sound familiar, it may be worth calling in a professional to assess the damage and recommend a course of action to repair and prevent further damage to underground utilities.

For more information about mole damage and control, please see our article on the role of repellents in mole control.

Preventing mole damage to utilities

Now that we understand the types of underground utilities affected by moles and the ways in which they can cause damage, it’s time to discuss how to prevent mole damage to utilities. Moles can be persistent and difficult to deter, but there are several methods that can be used to protect the underground cables and pipes that provide essential services. From physical barriers to mole-repelling products and humane trapping, there are several options to choose from. Let’s dive into some of the most effective ways to prevent mole damage to underground utilities. To learn more about preventing mole damage, check out our article on the effects of mole damage on garden and flower beds.

Physical barriers to prevent mole damage

Physical Barriers to Prevent Mole Damage

Physical barriers are a great way to prevent moles from damaging underground utilities. They can be made of different materials, such as soil, mesh, or rocks. These barriers interfere with the movement of moles and protect utility lines, thereby reducing the likelihood of cable and pipeline damage.

Here are some examples of physical barriers to prevent mole damage:

Barrier Type Description
Mole mesh A fine wire mesh with tiny holes that can be laid over the utility line. The holes are too small for the mole to pass through.
Mole netting A sheet of netting made of wire, plastic or other durable materials. Once installed, the barrier can remain in place for several years.
Mole-proof pipes Pipes made of durable and hard materials, such as PVC, HDPE or steel, which the mole cannot chew through or damage.
Rock barriers A layer of large rocks around the utility line, which can make it difficult for the mole to dig through them. Plus, moles do not typically burrow through rocks.
Concrete slabs Concrete slabs can be placed over the utility lines, blocking the mole from accessing them.

It is essential to ensure that these physical barriers are installed correctly and cover the entire length of the utility line. Partial installations may allow moles to sneak in and cause damage. Physical barriers are a long-term solution and can help prevent problems from recurring in the future.

Caution: Physical barriers are not always a one-size-fits-all solution. The appropriate barrier needs to be determined based on the specific mole and utility line characteristics. Failure to do so may result in inadequate protection or other issues.

To avoid mole damage to utility lines, it is important to pay attention to different prevention methods, which may include physical barriers, repellents, and mole traps.

Repellents to deter moles from underground utilities

Moles can cause significant damage to underground utilities, but there are several repellents that can be used to keep them away. These methods are typically not as effective as physically blocking the moles from reaching the utilities, but they can still be useful in certain situations.

One common repellent is castor oil. When applied to the soil, castor oil can create an unpleasant odor that moles find unappealing. This can be especially effective for deterring moles from digging near areas where they have previously caused damage to utilities.

Another option is to use a repellent that contains thiram. Thiram is a fungicide that can also act as a repellent to moles. When sprayed on the soil, it can create a barrier that moles are less likely to cross. However, it’s important to note that thiram is toxic to many animals, so it should be used with caution and kept away from areas where pets or wildlife may come into contact with it.

There are also ultrasonic devices that emit high-frequency sounds that are annoying to moles. These devices are typically installed near areas where moles have been spotted, and they work by creating vibrations in the ground that moles find unpleasant. While these devices can be effective, they can also be expensive and may not be the best option for all situations.

It’s important to note that repellents alone are not likely to completely solve the problem of mole damage to underground utilities. In many cases, physical barriers such as wire mesh or underground fencing may be necessary to keep moles away. Additionally, trapping and removing moles may be necessary (benefits and drawbacks of traps for mole removal) in order to prevent further damage.

Repellents can be a useful tool in the fight against mole damage to underground utilities. However, they should be used in combination with other methods to create the most effective solution to the problem. It’s important to carefully evaluate the situation and choose the most appropriate method to ensure the best results in preventing mole damage. For more information on the causes and effects of mole damage to roots, check out our article (causes and effects of mole damage to roots).

Mole trapping and treatment

One of the most effective methods of dealing with mole damage to underground utilities is through mole trapping and treatment. This involves setting up traps to catch the moles and then treating them in a humane manner.

Mole trapping

There are several types of mole traps available, but the most commonly used are the scissor-jaw and harpoon traps. Scissor-jaw traps work by closing on the mole as it moves through a tunnel, while harpoon traps pierce the mole when it pushes through the trap. Traps are typically placed in active mole tunnels, which can be identified by their raised and damaged appearance.

It’s important to set up traps properly to avoid harm to humans or other animals. Wearing gloves, carefully handle the traps and set them up in the mole tunnels with the trigger mechanism in place. Once a mole is caught, it should be dealt with humanely.


There are several humane treatment options available once a mole is caught in a trap. One option is to simply relocate the mole to another, more suitable location away from the underground utilities. Be sure to check local laws and regulations before doing this, as some areas may prohibit the release of moles into the wild.

Another option is to use carbon monoxide or another humane method to euthanize the mole. This should only be done by a licensed professional to avoid any risks or harm to humans or other animals.

Mole trapping and treatment can be an effective way to control mole damage to underground utilities. Be sure to use humane methods and follow all local laws and regulations to ensure the safety of both the moles and humans involved.

Mole trapping Treatment options
– Scissor-jaw traps – Relocating the mole
– Harpoon traps – Euthanizing with carbon monoxide or another humane method
– Proper trap placement in active mole tunnels


In conclusion, understanding mole damage to underground utilities is essential for maintaining the safety and functionality of these important systems. Mole damage can be identified by detecting their presence and identifying their tracks and mounds. If left unchecked, moles can cause significant damage to a variety of underground utilities, including water and gas lines, electrical cables, and telephone wires.

It is important to be able to recognize warning signs of mole damage to utilities, such as leaks, loss of service, and unusual sounds or smells. In order to prevent mole damage to underground utilities, various physical barriers and repellents can be employed to deter moles from burrowing near these sensitive systems. Mole trapping and treatment can also be effective in deterring these pests and reducing the risk of damage to utilities.

By taking proactive measures to prevent mole damage to underground utilities, homeowners and utility companies can save themselves from costly repairs and potential safety hazards. It is important to always be vigilant and take swift action at the first sign of mole activity near underground utilities. With proper prevention and treatment strategies in place, the likelihood of experiencing damage caused by moles can be greatly reduced.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mole?

A mole is a mammal that lives underground and feeds on insects and other small creatures.

How can I detect the presence of moles in my yard?

You can look for signs such as raised mole tunnels or mounds of soil in your lawn.

What kind of damage can moles cause to underground utilities?

Moles can damage pipes and wires by tunneling around them or by causing them to shift out of place.

What types of underground utilities are vulnerable to mole damage?

Electric, gas, water, and telecommunications lines are all vulnerable to damage from moles.

What are some warning signs of mole damage to underground utilities?

Some warning signs include power outages or disruptions in utility service, and signs of animal activity around utility boxes or meters.

What are some physical barriers that can prevent mole damage to utilities?

Examples of physical barriers include metal or plastic mesh, concrete barriers, and specially-designed cable guards.

What are some repellents that can deter moles from underground utilities?

Castor oil-based repellents and ultrasonic devices are two common options for deterring mole activity.

How can I trap or treat moles causing damage to my underground utilities?

There are humane traps available to catch and relocate moles, and there are also pest control professionals who specialize in mole treatment.

What are the benefits of preventing mole damage to underground utilities?

Preventing mole damage can save homeowners and utility companies money on costly repairs, and can also reduce the risk of service outages or accidents.

What are some additional steps I can take to protect my yard from mole damage?

Some additional steps include removing excess thatch, keeping your lawn well-watered, and planting certain types of plants that are less attractive to moles.