FAQs: 811 Call Before You Dig

Whether you are planning to do it yourself or hire a professional, smart digging means calling 811 before each job. Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees and shrubs. The depth of utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. Digging without calling can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm you and those around you and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Calling 811 before every digging job gets your underground utility lines marked for free and helps prevent undesired consequences.

Call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to digging, and your call will be routed to your local One Call Center. Tell the operator where you’re planning to dig, what type of work you will be doing and your affected local utilities companies will be notified about your intent to dig. In a few days, they’ll send a locator to mark the approximate location of your underground lines, pipes and cables, so you’ll know what’s below – and be able to dig safely.

For more information on your local One Call Center, or to make an online request for utilities to be marked (where available), click here.

Why should I call 811 before every dig?

Don’t gamble with your safety — if you’re a professional excavator or a homeowner, smart digging always requires a call to 811. Knowing where underground utility lines are buried before you dig will help protect you from injury and prevent damages to utilities, service disruptions and potential fines and repair costs. Whether you’re planting a tree or shrub, or installing a deck or pool, every job requires a call—Even if you’ve called before for a similar project. The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in one common area. Marked lines show you the approximate location of underground lines and help prevent undesired consequences such as injury, service disruptions to an entire neighborhood, or costly fines and repair costs.

Can I submit my request to have my utility lines marked online at this web site?

No. Please call 811 directly. Your local One Call Center will advise you of online services available to submit locate requests. For additional local information, click here.

I’m just a homeowner, not a contractor—is 811 for me?

Smart digging always means calling 811 before each job. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer planning a weekend project or a professional excavator contracted for a home improvement job, one phone call to 811 will get your underground utility lines marked for free.

I’ve called my local “Call Before You Dig” number before – will 811 replace this service?

No, 811 will not replace your local one call number. The One Call process will remain the same and continue to notify your local affected utility companies, who will continue to mark your underground lines for free. With more than 62 local one call numbers across the country, 811 eliminates the confusion of multiple “Call Before You Dig” numbers by providing one national number you can call to get your lines marked. For more information on contacting your local One Call Center, click here.

Can I call in a request for a utility locate on weekends?

Laws vary from state to state. Please call 811 and a customer service representative will be able to assist you.

Can you just tell me what utilities are in my area even if I am not digging?

No. Please call only if you intend to dig.

How far in advance do I need to call?

State laws vary from 48 – 72 hours, most excluding weekends and legal holidays. Please call 811 directly, and the customer service representative will be able to provide specific information.

Do the colors of the paint and flags indicate anything in particular?

Yes. Each color indicates a universal color to what is buried below ground.

  • Red – Electric
  • Orange – Communications, Telephone/CATV
  • Blue – Potable Water
  • Green – Sewer/Drainage
  • Yellow – Gas/Petroleum Pipe Line
  • Purple – Reclaimed Water
  • White – Premark site of intended excavation

How long are the marks good for?

State laws vary from state to state. Please call 811 directly and they will advise you of the duration the marks will be good for.

Can I obtain a printed layout of where the utility lines are buried on my property?

No. An 811 call is to be made only if the caller intends to dig. Professional locators will then mark the approximate location of the buried facilities with paint or flags.