Angie's List: Call 811 Before You Dig

You know 9-1-1, but 8-1-1 is important, too. Calling 8-1-1 before digging on your property is the law, and could prevent the cutoff of critical services or serious injury.

“Every six minutes, a utility line is damaged in the United States, and you really don’t think about it unless it happens to you,” says Khrysanne Kerr of Common Ground Alliance. “Unless you’re the guy on Super Bowl Sunday who can’t watch the game. Unless it’s 110 degrees outside and you have no power.”

“It’s surprising how many people forget to have utilities marked if they’re going to be digging in their yard,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks says. “It simply requires dialing 8-1-1 and allowing three days to have the company come out and mark your utilities.”

A recent survey said nearly half of homeowners plan an outdoor project this year, but many of them have no plans to call 8-1-1 first, exposing them to injury, liability and hefty fines.

“By notifying that utility, they will come out and mark the approximate location with paint or flags and therefore you can stay away from your buried electric lines, your natural gas line or that fiber optic line or telecommunications line that’s going to keep you away from Facebook,” Kerr says.

“Even if you’re hiring someone to put that new patio in or build a fence for you, you still want to make sure that they’re having the utilities marked, and if they’re not, don’t let them dig until they are marked,” Hicks says.

It doesn’t matter whether you live in the city or the country, you must call before you dig.

“Not making the call can cost you everything, but making the call costs you nothing,” Kerr says.

Angie says digging mishaps cause thousands of service disruptions and dozens of injuries each year. Calling 8-1-1 helps avoid that. It’s a free call, available 24/7.