Whether you’re planning a DIY home improvement project or hiring a contractor, there’s a number to call before digging in your yard.
Don’t know the number to call before digging? That would be an easy 811. Calling it will get your underground utility lines marked and your project off to a safe start.
Utility services such as cable TV, telephone, electric, gas, water and sewer are often buried underground. Unintentionally striking one of these lines could result in power outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or someone else, and repair costs.
The free, federally mandated national number to call before digging aims to make the process easier. Instead of looking up phone numbers for all the local utility companies, you just need to call 811.
Does every digging project require a call?
Yes. Whether it’s putting a mailbox into the ground, installing a fence, planting trees, building a patio or deck, or excavating a new garden area, officials say that you should call 811.
What’s the process?
You need to dial 811 several days before you plan to start your digging project. When you do, a representative will collect your information and notify local utility companies of your intent to dig.
Once you make the call, a professional will visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of all underground utility lines with spray paint or flags. The utility service paint or flags colors are:
Orange: Communications, telephone/CATV
Blue: Potable water
Yellow: Gas/Petroleum pipeline
Purple: Reclaimed water
White: Site of intended excavation
How long will it take?
Most crews will arrive to mark your property within a few days. Be sure to check your state’s one-call center for more detailed information. Each state has different rules and regulations about digging.
The crew will make sure you know exactly where (and where not) to dig. The depths of utility lines may vary, and there may be multiple utility lines in the same area. Once your site is marked, it is safe to begin digging outside of the identified areas.
Plan on digging?
If you’re digging as part of a home improvement project, you’ll want to call your insurance agent. A home improvement project could increase the value of your home, so you’ll want to be sure you have the proper amount of coverage.
Typical homeowners insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage to underground service lines or pipes. The lines can be damaged during excavation or digging from the weight of vehicles or equipment above ground. The costs to repair the damage can be substantial. If you have an ErieSecure Home® insurance policy, you can purchase service line coverage to help with the expensive repair costs. Ask an ERIE agent for more information about the coverage (and if it’s available in your state).
The story was originally published on June 10, 2015. It was updated with new information.