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Call Before You Dig: How does 811 Work?

How does 811 Work
May 30, 2024

Are you planning to dig on your property or have a project that requires excavation? Remember, always call before you dig for any residential or commercial excavation project. 

Calling 811

811 is a free, nationwide number that you should always call before you start any digging project. Remember, it can take a few business days for the locates to be completed. You may even want to look into local and state laws for how many days you need to wait before excavation.

811 is a free service that marks any public utilities located underground. It is important to note that 811 will only mark public utility lines. Their services do not extend to private underground utilities.

It is important to note the 811 is not a perfect system. In fact, a common misconception is that 811 offers free utility locate services, but this is not quite accurate. This service gathers information about your project and relays that information to the utility owner or municipality. Then, the utility company that owns the public utility comes out to mark the lines. 

811 relies on participating members, that means that they may have incomplete records or may be missing utility operator information. Because of this, it is always important to contact a private locate service to verify 811 locates and ensure that all utilities are marked.

Before calling, make sure you have all details about your project ready to go. This includes the location of the project, timing, type of work you plan on doing, and the equipment you will be using. After 811 gathers the necessary information, they will send out a technician to locate and mark any public utilities with flags or paint.

We cannot state this enough: 811 will only cover public utilities. In fact, the Common Ground Alliance estimates that only about 35% of utilities are public. That leaves a whopping 65% of utilities as private, meaning that 65% of what’s going on beneath your feet will not be marked by public locate services. Public utilities are any lines that extend up to the meter only, anything after that is considered to be private.

In addition, the scope of 811 utility locating services may not be what you need. This extends to the deliverables they provide. For example, if you need field sketches, you’ll want to contact a private locator. Also, 811 often relies on public records that may be incomplete or outdated. For the most accurate maps, always contact a private utility locator. 

That’s where companies like UtiliSource come in. We offer private locate services to efficiently and accurately find and mark any private utilities located on the job site. 

Protect yourself, your crews, and the job site and always call before you dig. For the most accurate utility maps, contact a private locate service like UtiliSource. Reduce utility strikes with UtiliSource and ensure a safe dig. For more information, contact us to learn more about our private locate services.

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