811: The Number to Call Before Digging

number to call before digging

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.

Wondering more about the number to call before digging? Then read on.

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:

  • Red: Electric
  • Orange: Communications, telephone/CATV
  • Blue: Potable water
  • Green: Sewer/Drainage
  • 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 yourstate’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.


If you’re digging as part of a home improvement project, you’ll also want to call yourinsurance 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.

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