Four Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig

Have your utility lines marked before starting outdoor projects that involve digging.


As warmer weather arrives and we spend more time outside, an outdoor project or two might be on your to-do list. Even if your projects seem small, like planting trees or shrubs or installing a new fence or mailbox, be sure to contact 811 a few business days before you break ground. Here are four reasons to contact 811 before you start digging.

It Will Keep You Safe

Hitting a buried utility line can cause injury and even death. Some utility lines are buried just a few inches deep. Depending on where you live, it is possible that any of the following utility lines could be found in your yard:

  • Electric power
  • Telecommunication
  • Natural gas
  • Sewers and drains
  • Potable (drinkable) water
  • Reclaimed water or irrigation

It's The Law

Having your underground utility lines marked is the best way to know what’s under your feet before you start digging. It’s the law In most states, contacting 811 before you dig is required by law.

Make sure to plan ahead and submit your request a few business days in advance of the work you are preparing to complete. Each state differs when it comes to the exact number of days in advance you need to make a request.

Waiting until the last minute could mean having to delay your project to allow time for representatives to come to your home to accurately mark buried utility lines.

It Prevents Damage And Unplanned Outages

Having your yard marked means you can plan your digging a safe distance away from underground lines. In most states, laws mandate a tolerance zone on either size of the marked lines. The tolerance zone is an area around underground lines where only certain types of digging are permitted. Check your state’s 811 frequently asked questions section for additional information.

Dig with care to ensure you do not hit a buried line which could result in the disruption of utility service for you and your neighbors. If a damaged line needs to be repaired, it could result in unplanned outages so workers can safely repair the lines.

If you have your utility lines marked, and accidentally hit a Dominion Energy natural gas or utility line, stop digging immediately and move to a safe distance away from the area. Call 911 immediately and then report the incident to Dominion Energy.

It's Free And Easy

811 is a free service available to everyone. It's as easy as dialing 811 or submitting an request online. In some areas, an app, may also be available to quickly submit a request from your phone or tablet.

If you are working with a contractor for your project, make sure you understand whose responsibility it is to make the request to have the utility lines marked. The service is free no matter who makes the request.

Once a request is submitted, crews in your area will mark your project area with color-coded lines, indicating the locations of underground utilities. Private utility lines are not marked by 811. Those include electric lines running from your home to a detached garage or shed, invisible pet fences, lines for satellite or dish television, septic tanks and links, and propane tanks or lines.