5 common questions about calling 811

Summer is here, which means most of us are busy sprucing up our yards: gardening, landscaping, planting bushes and trees. But did you know that 811 should be called a few days prior to any digging, even in your own yard?

Calling 811 will help protect you and your family by identifying any utility lines on your property before digging. Hitting a television or telephone line is an inconvenience for sure, but utilities like electric, gas, water, or sewer lines can have much larger consequences.

Here are some common questions about 811, and why it’s important summer for any project.

  1. Do I need to call if I’m just gardening?

Planting a garden, bush, or young tree may seem simple, but utilities can hide just a few inches under the ground. It’s easy to damage a line, even with a small shovel! Plus, root systems are very powerful and can grow long and deep, affecting nearby lines.

  1. Isn’t my fence too shallow to hit any utilities?

Make sure you call 811 before installing any structures that go underground, even small or shallow projects like mailboxes, fences or children’s playgrounds. Utility lines can be everywhere, even on the very edge of your property. Calling 811 prior to digging will help you plan your latest project safely!

  1. I’ve dug here before so it’s safe, right?

Roots and erosion can move utility lines, changing their depth or location. The lines could have moved since they were last marked! Utility companies may also have added or changed the locations of lines in your yard, so it’s best to call 811 any year that you dig.

  1. Doesn’t my contractor call 811 for me?

Some do, some don’t. When you hire a contractor for any project, big or small, talk about who’s responsible for making the call before the digging begins.

  1. How does it work anyway?

Calling 811 is free from anywhere in the United States. Just give the operator information about where what your summer project will be. Within a few days, utilities companies with send a locator to mark where, approximately, your underground lines and pipes are with flags or paint. Remember to always dig carefully around any marked areas.

A utility line is hit every six minutes in the United States, according to the Common Ground Alliance. Play it safe this summer and always call 811 before you dig.

Madison Weaver

Madison Weaver is a creative writing and communications double major at Bucknell University. As the external affairs intern at Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation for summer 2018, Madison will be creating blog posts and video content for Well Said.

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