caution tape that reads: Caution Gas Line Buried Below

Whether you’re a homeowner, contractor, or construction worker, you need to be aware of dangers when it comes to digging on a property. Hitting a buried utility cable may result in fines, property damage, injury or death. Planning ahead can help you to prevent electrical and natural gas accidents.

The law requires anyone planning to do digging, blasting or tunneling work to have the utility lines at the site marked before beginning the job. Even seemingly simple tasks like installing a mailbox, planting a tree, or building a deck require a call to the 811 Call Before You Dig hotline.

Quick Facts

  • Call 811 for any digging project, no matter how small.
  • The 811 service is free and available to all.
  • Representatives will mark any buried utility lines so you can dig around them.
  • Hitting a buried utility line may cause property damage, injury or even death.
  • Sometimes utility lines are buried at a shallow depth.
  • The law requires a call to 811 before digging.

Call Before Installing

  • Septic tanks and sewer lines
  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Sprinklers and water lines
  • Basketball goal posts or mailbox posts
  • Fences and deck posts
  • Trees and shrubs

1) Call

Be safe before digging: call the national Call Before You Dig hotline at 811 or your specific state’s hotline. You should request your free line marking at least 3 working days before you plan to dig.

On the call, a representative will take information about your project and notify the appropriate utility companies. They will then come to your site and mark any underground utility lines, including power and gas lines, communication cables, and water lines. Once completed, the line marking is guaranteed accurate for 15 working days.

2) Dig

After utility representatives inspect your site and mark any underground utility lines, it’s safe to dig around them, but remember to excavate with care. Location marks of underground utility cables have accuracy requirements that vary by state, ranging from 18 to 24 inches from the actual line.

811 and State Guidelines

The 811 Call Before you Dig website provides additional information about buried utility lines and precautions to take before digging. It also features a U.S. map where users can select any state to learn more about guidelines specific to that state and details about its 811 center.

Common Ground Alliance (CGA)

CGA, an underground utility industry body, is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground utilities and infrastructure. Find out more about buried utility lines and what to do before digging on the Common Ground Alliance website.