Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about safe digging.

If you have a question or concern that’s not addressed below, call 811.

How far in advance can I call?

You should call at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, before starting your digging project. Locate requests received on legal holidays, weekends or after 5 p.m. on weekdays are processed on the next business day. For a list of legal holidays, click here.

Can I call 811 before digging?

Yes. Homeowners can also call 811, the national call before you dig number, to request that their lines be marked. Calls to 811 are automatically routed to the caller’s local notification center.

What information do I need before calling New York 811?

You’ll need the following information handy when you call:

  • Your county, city or township
  • Digging location (street address and nearest cross street)
  • Type and extent of work (front/rear/both sides of property)
  • Digging start date and time
Can I notify New York 811 online?

No; only professional contractors and excavators may submit a locate request online. Homeowners can contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 811, the national call before you dig number, to request that your lines be marked.

Who marks the lines?

Utility companies (NOT New York 811) mark their own lines. Keep in mind that companies often hire locating services to mark the lines for them.

Is there a fee to have my lines marked?

There is no fee to have your lines marked. However, if you have privately owned lines (i.e. lines that you or a contractor installed on your property, such as invisible fencing, sprinkler systems and well and septic systems), it is your responsibility to contact a locating service to mark those lines. To find companies providing private locating services, check your local telephone directory. Keep in mind that fees for this service vary.

What happens after I call?

After asking some questions about the area in which you plan to dig, including the address, nearest cross streets and extent of work to be done, we then notify members who own and operate utilities and/or underground facilities in that area.
Representatives from these member companies have 48 hours (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to come to the location to mark their underground facilities.

I gave my 48-hour notice, and my lines were not marked. Can I start digging?

Call New York 811, by dialing 811, to verify that we received your request. If we have received your request, and no lines have been marked on your property, do not assume it is safe to begin digging. All of the notified member companies who have lines in the area must provide you with “positive response,” or give the all clear, before digging can commence. If you have not heard from the notified member companies, call New York 811. Have your ticket number handy.

Is there a depth requirement for contacting New York 811?

You should always call before ANY digging, regardless of depth. Lines have been hit digging fence post holes, anchoring supports for decks and swing sets, planting trees and removing tree roots. By not calling, you risk property or environmental damage, explosion or fire, power or utilities services interruptions, serious injury or death.

Do I need to be present when my lines are marked?

There is no need for you to be present unless you have a specific question for the locator or if you need to restrain pets or grant the locator access to your property.

Will the locators leave me anything to let me know they have been there?

In addition to flags or paint marking their lines, some utility companies leave a small sign or card in your yard.

What’s a “tolerance” or “buffer” zone?

A tolerance or buffer zone extends approximately 24 inches from each side of the utility line markings. If you must perform digging within this zone, use hand tools and exercise extreme caution.

What happens if I don’t call before I dig?

By not calling, you risk serious injury or even death, as well as property or environmental damage, explosion or fire and power or utilities services interruptions. Remember, even if your digging project is small, it’s always best to call!

How long do I have to wait before I can dig?

Please wait 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) before digging.

What kinds of digging projects should homeowners call about?

It’s a good idea to call about ANY type of outdoor digging project. Examples include:

  • Landscaping
  • Digging holes for fence posts or a mailbox
  • Anchoring supports for decks and swings sets
  • Planting trees
  • Removing tree roots
  • Driving landscaping stakes into the ground
  • Installing a retainer wall
My contractor/pool installation company/deck builder says it’s my responsibility to call New York 811. Is this correct?

NO! By law, it is the contractor or excavator’s responsibility to call New York 811, even if digging on private property.

Who are the members of New York 811?

By law, companies that own or operate underground utility lines must join one of the two one call centers in the state of New York (New York 811 and Dig Safely New York.
New York 811’s member network includes “participating members,” which are utility companies (e.g. water, sewer, telecommunications, natural gas), municipalities and others with a stake in protecting New York’s underground infrastructure. “Sustaining members” do not own underground facilities but have an interest in damage prevention. All members meet annually to discuss relevant issues and concerns, outreach initiatives, damage prevention, safe digging and other matters.

After the lines have been marked, how should I proceed?

With caution, making sure to respect the 24-inch tolerance zone on all sides of the markings.

I only have a small patch of property. Do I really need to call New York 811?

Yes! Millions of underground utility lines run through our region and it is not possible (or safe!) to guess or approximate their location.