811: Remember to Call Before You Dig!

September 16, 2021 10:59 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’ve ever heard of 811, you might wonder what this “call before you dig” hotline number is used for. Do you have to use it for everything—like installing your kid’s sandbox—or is it for major projects only? Why do you have to call, anyway? What if you’re just digging on your own property?

Here are all the answers to your 811 questions.

What is 811?

811 is available in all 50 states. It’s designed to be a resource for all contractors and property owners (residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural) so they or their contractors can safely dig on their land. When you call 811, you can request information about where your underground utilities are located—and how deep—so you’ll be able to avoid them during your next project.

In California, 811 is divided between northern and southern regions. The services provided, and the time it takes to get a response, are the same.

Why do I have to call before I dig?

You might own the land you’re digging on, but it’s very likely that there are underground utilities lurking below the surface. Sewer lines, electrical cables, phone lines, septic lines, fiber internet and water lines are all necessary for living “on the grid”—and if you accidentally hit any of them while digging, you can cause major problems.

Hitting an underground utility line can be dangerous or even deadly. It’s also just inconvenient, even if you manage to escape serious injury. Not only will it disrupt your personal utilities, but it may affect your neighbors and surrounding properties, too. Some experts estimate that a quarter of damage to public utility lines occurs because someone neglected to call 811 before they started digging.

In addition to preventing damage, injury and disruption, you may be legally required to call 811 before you start a project—even if it’s as small as installing a new mailbox. If you fail to call and an issue arises as a result, you could be on the hook for fines, fees and other legal consequences. It’s best to avoid this possibility and simply call ahead of time.

What happens when I call 811?

When you call 811, you’ll talk to a human on the other end of the line. They’ll ask for your address, nearest cross street, county, the type of project you’re planning to do and where exactly you intend to dig.

After you call, you’ll wait around two to 14 days to get a response from the utility company. (This is a good reason to call well in advance.) They’ll come to your property and mark the buried utility lines. At that point, if your project interferes with the utility lines, it’s wise to go ahead and find a different location. There’s no sense in risking hitting a line, even if you think the trench is going to be too shallow to affect it.

For directional drilling and trenching assistance, reach out to the team at Es7 Comm-2 U, Inc. today.

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