Call before you dig - it's a phrase we've all heard at least a dozen times. But why is it so important? Careless digging can cause serious damage to people, property, and the environment. Even a less serious problem from damaged utilities, like losing TV service for a few days, can cause major headaches. As a landscape company, we work with Indiana811 (also called 811Dig) a lot, so I asked some of our team members to share 8 things you might not know about Indiana811.
- It's a free service.
Indiana 811 is a non-profit corporation created in 1981 to help reduce injuries and property damage caused by unsafe digging. Hitting a utility line is a big deal that could cost thousands of dollars and even result in death. Indiana 811 is made up of over 1,000 member companies who manage underground utilities. When you submit a request, and company with utilities on your property will send out a representative for free to locate their lines in or near your project area.
- You should call 811 for any digging project.
Indiana811 is a free and quick service, so it's always better to be safe than sorry. Simply call at least two business days in advance of when you plan to dig. Indiana811 will give you a list of the utility companies that will need to come locate their utilities on your site, and once all of those companies have made a visit you are free to start digging.
- The flagged or painted line doesn't mark the exact location of the utility.
The utility could be anywhere within 2 ft to either side of the marked line plus half the width of the utility. For example, if the marked utility is a 2 ft wide pipe, you need to be careful within 3 ft to either side of the marked line. They also make no promises on the depth of the line.
- If you do need to dig close to a marking, it's best to hand dig.
The markings don't necessarily mean you can't touch anything within the range of the line. It just means you need to proceed with caution, and if you do any damage you (or the company digging) are liable for it. If you want to dig close to a marked line, it's best just to hand dig to be safe. If you hit a utility that is outside of the range marked by the utility company, they are liable for damages.
- Each color flag represents a different utility.
Red - Electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables
Yellow - Gas, oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials
Orange - Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines
Blue - Potable Water
Green - Sewers and Drain Lines
Purple - Reclaimed Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines
Pink - Temporary Survey Markings
White - Proposed Excavation
- You'll need some information on hand when you call in.
Some of this information may not be relevant (such as contractor or fax number), but the more information you have the better.
Location of work – county/township, street address, intersecting streets/roads
Distance and direction from intersection
Extent of work from front/rear/both sides
Date and start time of excavation
Type of work
- They won't necessarily be using flags.
The marks could be paint, flags or both. Sometimes there will be a mark indicating that a utility has no lines on your property, or there may be information about the diameter of a utility. If you are ever confused about the meaning of a flag or marking, don't hesitate to call Indiana811 for help.
- You should never EVER try and repair or cover a utility that you have damaged.
If you try to repair it, you will get in more trouble than just damaging the pipe. Any damage (even if you don't actually cut through the line) should be reported to the relevant utility so they can come out and repair it if needed. If it is an emergency that could cause serious harm (such as a leaking gas line) or loss of crucial services (such as a damaged water main), call 811 immediately for emergency repairs.
Putting in a request to Indiana811 is a quick and easy way to save you from expensive and potentially painful problems down the line, so when in doubt, always ask. You can call for free by just dialing 811, or you can also submit a request online at 811now.com. Both the website and the phone line operate 24/7, so you don't need to remember to handle it during business hours. For more information about Indiana811, visit their website.