“It’s my yard and I can dig if I want to.” It’s natural to feel this way. After all, you probably paid a lot for that property and you don’t want to answer to anyone, or wait around for somebody to come over and tell you where you can or can’t put your new begonias.
But just underneath the dirt and grass and concrete of our modern cities lies a perplexing network of utility lines. If you’re too ornery or impatient to call before you dig, you might knock out power to your house—if you’re lucky. If this is your unlucky day, planting that tree could end up with a self-barbecue.
What kind of activities warrant that call?
Some activities seem too small to bother with a pre-dig call. But they’re not. Hidden lines may lurk only a few inches beneath your lawn. Electricity, telecom, oil, gas, water, sewer—it’s a jungle down there. Even if you’re just planting a small shrub, you should call first.
Activities that warrant calling before digging include:
- Installing a mailbox
- Building a deck, patio or porch
- Digging a giant hole for a swimming pool (Duh!)
- Installing a sprinkler system
- Adding a septic tank to your yard
- Planting a tree
- Installing a flag pole or a pole for a basketball hoop
- Building a fence
Okay. You convinced me. What do I do?
Every state has its own call center to handle digging inquiries. But the Federal Communications Commission gave them all one easy-to-remember number: 811. Just pick up the phone, dial 811, and you’ll connect with your local call center. This center will take care of communicating with your local utilities, who will send their people out to mark line locations. Once you see little flags in your yard, you can start digging. Avoiding the flagged areas, of course.
In our great state of Texas, we need to call the dig line at least two working days before we want to start our project, but not more than 14. Once the flags are in place, they’re only valid for 14 days.
Are you hiring a contractor? Either you or the contractor can call 811. The important thing is to make sure one of you does in the right timeframe for the job.
Fences and dig safety
At Buzz, we’ve been working with the 811 folks for many years. Safety is priceless—that of our customers and our employees. Whether you’re hiring us to build your new fence or doing a DIY project remember: Call before you dig.