Call before you dig

Call before you dig

You’ve got a big project planned for this weekend that involves some serious digging — like pouring footings for a new deck or creating a new garden bed.

Before you touch a shovel, though, there’s a number you should punch into your phone: 811.

That’s the number for the “call-before-you-dig” hotline, maintained nationwide to keep excavating property owners from having an unfortunate — and potentially fatal — encounter with the gas, electric, and other utility lines that run beneath their yard’s surface. The 811 hotline is run in conjunction with a national website that provides links to essential information specific to the homeowners, contractors, and designers in each state.

You can call 811 to learn what permissions are necessary in your state before you break ground. Generally, each state’s authorities ask for two days to a week’s notice before you start digging, so they can get the word out to the utilities, which will then send out crews to place markers that show where your utility lines run.

The call-before-you-dig website provides other tools as well. For instance, there’s a Design Request System (DRS), which gives licensed design professionals access to critical infrastructure information. Contractors can use the site as a portal to access training materials, instructional videos, and more. And homeowners can enter an email address to get the ball rolling in filing an excavation request.

The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice and should be confirmed with alternative sources.