Call Before You Dig
WHAT IS 811?
811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website a few business days before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground utility line.
811 protects you and your community! Hitting a buried line while digging can disrupt utility service, cost money to repair, or cause serious injury or death. Always contact your 811 center, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request, and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before putting a shovel in the ground.
DO I NEED TO CONTACT 811?
Yes! Any digging requires contacting your 811 center, either by calling 811 from anywhere in the U.S. or making your request through your state 811 center’s website. Planting a garden? Installing a fence or mailbox? You must contact 811.
When you dial 811, you will automatically be connected to a representative from your state’s 811 center who will ask you simple questions about the location and details of your digging project. If you make your request online, you will enter the same information into a form. Either way, you will receive a ticket number and instructions for how much time utilities have to respond to your request, as well as how to confirm that all utilities have responded before you can safely dig.
WHEN CAN I BEGIN MY DIGGING PROJECT?
Wait for the marks! Utilities will mark their buried lines on your dig site.
State laws vary, but generally, utility companies have a few days to respond to your request. Utilities will send out locators who will come to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried utilities with paint or flags so that you can avoid them. Each utility type corresponds to a specific color of paint or a flag -- for example, gas lines are marked with yellow paint or flags. In addition to waiting for marks, you must use the info on your ticket to confirm that ALL utilities have responded before you can dig.
You called before digging, waited for your lines to be marked, confirmed that all utilities responded to your request, and now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! Make sure to always dig carefully around the marks, not on them. Some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one -- facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences. Don't forget that erosion or root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines, so remember to call again each time you are planning a digging job.
DO I REALLY NEED TO CALL?
Yes! Even projects you might think are “small,” like planting a garden, require you to contact 811.
I am only planting a small flower bed or bush...
Did you know that many utilities are buried just a few inches below ground? You can easily hit a line when digging for simple gardening projects, like planting flowers or small shrubs. Contact your 811 center anytime you’re putting a shovel in the ground to keep yourself and your community safe.
I am just installing a mailbox...
Buried utility lines are everywhere! Installing mailboxes and fences are examples of projects that absolutely require a call to 811 to know what’s below before digging. Hitting a line can knock out service to your home and neighborhood or result in fines, damage, and serious injury. Don’t make a judgment call – make the call (or online request) to 811 every time you dig.
I am digging in a spot that was previously marked...
Erosion and root system growth can alter the depth or location of buried lines, or your utility companies may have completed work on their lines since the last time you dug – so you must contact 811 before you dig, each and every time.
I have hired a contractor or landscaper to do the digging project...
Be sure to check with your contractor or landscaper to make sure that they will contact 811 a few business days before digging begins – whether it means you making the call, or your contractor doing so. Never let digging work begin without contacting 811! It’s not worth the risk.
I am only digging in a small area and don't want my entire yard marked...
If you are only planning to dig in a small portion of your yard, you can outline the area in white paint or white flags available at home improvement stores to ensure that only the utilities in that part of your yard will be located and marked. Be sure to let your 811 center know about your plans, and they will help ensure the proper area is marked by utility locators.