Digging without locating underground utilities, even the smallest digging projects, could leave neighborhoods in the dark, cause thousands of dollars in damages, or cause severe electrical shock. To help stay safe, make use of the national underground utility locating service for free by calling 811.
The 811 “Call Before You Dig” number will route you to your local utility locating service. Make sure to tell the operator where and when you plan to dig and what type of work you will be doing. From there, it takes a few business days for a professional to come mark your public utilities with flags or spray paint. So make sure to plan ahead and call in advance.
For homeowners and contractors
- Even if you previously had utilities located by calling 811, it is best to call before every digging project. Underground utilities can shift, and it is important to be certain of where they are before ever putting a shovel in the ground.
- Make sure all utilities are marked before beginning a digging project and that you are wearing all the proper protective gear.
- There is no project to small or task to menial that you don’t have to take the proper precautions before a digging project.
- Remember, other people and businesses may also rely these utilities buried in the yard.
- Always respect the utility markings, and dig with care.
- If you accidently come in contact with an underground utility, do not bury the problem. Your first priority should be evacuating the area for safety. It can be difficult to locate exactly where a problem is after the damage occurred and was buried. Damage to some underground utilities can cause dangers and inconveniences miles away from the actual site of the damage.
- Small nicks in underground wires can be expensive, but necessary, to fix. If you nick an underground utility, notify your utility provider. Do not attempt to fix the problem yourself.
For private utilities
- 811 locators do not locate privately installed facilities. To find those, you will need to hire a private locator.
- Some examples of private facilities are:
- Gas piping to a garage or out building
- Gas grills and pool heaters
- Private water systems
- Underground sprinkler systems
- Customer owned electric lines
- Invisible fences
- Data communication systems
- If you do not know what facilities are on the property, look for clues to tell you what might be under ground, like: a propane storage tank, gas meters, a detached garage or outbuilding with lights, a grill or pool on the property, manhole lids, storm drains, and pavement patches.
- If you have called 811 to have facilities located but suspect that there are additional buried facilities where you need to dig, do not put a shovel in the ground until you get a private contractor to locate the lines.