Planning to dig? Here’s what you need to know…

Calling before you dig helps keep your family and community safe. Homeowners should contact New York 811, by dialing 811, at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) before beginning any digging project. Homeowners can also call 811, the national call before you dig number, to request that their lines be marked. (Calls made to 811 are automatically routed to the nearest one call center.)

It’s important to call before starting any type of work involving digging. 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

Calling New York 811 is the only way to determine the exact location of a utility line or underground structure.

By not calling, you risk:

  • Costly property or environmental damage
  • Explosion or fire on your property
  • Power or utilities services interruptions
  • Injury—or even death

Remember, even if your digging project is small, it’s always best to call!

Follow these steps for safe digging…

  1. Call 811 at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days (excluding weekends and legal holidays), before beginning any landscape or digging project on your property. For your convenience, we accept calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays.
  2. Have 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
  3. Wait until lines are marked to begin digging. After we notify member utility companies with underground lines in your area, they will have 48 hours (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to mark their lines with colored flags, stakes or paint.
  4. Once your property is marked, proceed with care, allowing at least an 24-inch “tolerance” zone on either side of the marked utility line. Click here for a helpful diagram.
  5. Do not remove flags, stakes or paint marks until you are finished digging. Make sure pets and young children do not disrupt or remove markers.

For larger projects…

If you have hired an excavator or contractor to do a larger project that involves mechanized digging on your property, the excavator or contractor—NOT the homeowner—is responsible for contacting New York 811. If you have any questions about what necessitates a call to New York 811, call 1-800-524-7603 or contact one of our Liaisons.

If you hit a line…

Contact the appropriate utility company (if known) as well as New York 811 immediately even if there appears to be no damage. (Not all damage can be detected by the naked eye.)

If a substance starts releasing into the air, such as natural gas, walk away immediately and take steps to clear the area. Then call 9-1-1. Don’t try to repair or stop a leak yourself or use anything that might create a spark, such as a cell phone.

Schedule a free safe digging presentation!

New York 811 features four staff damage prevention liaisons who promote safe digging throughout our region. To learn more about requesting a free damage prevention seminar for your homeowners association or other group, click here.