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    Before You Dig: Call 811 to Dig Safe

    March 28, 2013

    Just call 811 from any phone, to have your underground utilities marked for free!

    My Mom noticed a lot of water out on the road right in front of their home. The water company came out and discovered that they had a water main break. While fixing the water main, they cut through the underground electrical wires. She had her water back but now she had no electricity.

    They called the electrical company and it was confirmed - the water company had broken through the power lines. The utility company fixed the electrical but in digging they broke through the water line (again!). Needless to say, neither of them called 811 to have the lines marked. They just assumed they knew where everything was. It was a good 4 days before my parents had both electricity and water back.

    My Brother (a contractor) was replacing the water line from the road to his house. The water company had told him the lines were really old and were beginning to corrode. He called 811, and the lines were marked right away. He now knew where the gas, electrical and water lines were located underground.

    Because of that one phone call, they were able to dig the water line and not damage the electrical or gas lines. He told me that if he had not made the call, there would have been a very good chance of an accident.

    call-811Before CBYD (Call Before You Dig) was created, there were countless accidents when people began digging, without thinking about what is buried underground. The CBYD mission is to help people locate underground utilities - before they dig.

    Call Before You Dig was designed to protect the people in the community as well as preventing damage to public utilities. If you start digging and hit a gas line, you can hurt yourself and harm your community.

    By knowing where the lines are, you can avoid injury or fatalities, as well as major fines and repair costs. If you do not call 811 first, you will have to pay to fix the damages. And you, and maybe your neighbors, or even the entire neighborhood, may be without power or water for many days.

    When should I call 811 to have them mark the property?

    You should make the 811 call to have your utility lines marked several business days in advance of your inground pool excavation. The representative you talk to will contact the utility companies so they can mark the lines. This could take a couple of days for them to get out to your home. I have always called a week ahead of time. That has always seemed to work out well for my area.

    811 is a national system. When you call this number, the operator will switch you to a local representative in your area. The local representative will be able to answer any questions you have. Each area has their own set of requirements. They will ask you why you are digging and where you will be digging. They will also contact the proper utility companies to have them mark the lines for you. It could take a few days for the utility companies to mark the lines.

    Do I need to know exact pool placement before I call them?

    You will not have to know the exact placement of the pool, but you will need to have a pretty good idea of where you are planning to put the pool. it is always a good idea to mark off the area that you are planning on putting the pool. That will give you as well as the utility man a good idea where the placement of the pool is compared to any lines that may be in the way.

    If you want to be certain that there are no utilities running across your planned pool area, you can call 811 during the planning phases of your inground pool.

    Utilities located in your planned pool area?

    You may have to change the pool location. You can check with your utility company to see if the underground lines can be relocated. I am sure that if they can move the line, there will be a charge for this service, but it may be affordable, depending on the scope of the job.

    Other Thoughts on Call Before You Dig

    Easements: Normally, where there is an easement on your property you cannot encroach on it. You would have to find out what the easement is for. You can check with an attorney to see what can be done. I would never build the pool on an easement without first obtaining written permission from the easement holder.

    Septic: If you have a septic field on your property, keep in mind that these are not marked by CBYD. Many localities have a limit on how close a septic or leach field can be from an inground pool.

    Call 811, color of the marks, what do the colors mean?Understanding the Marks: When the representatives visit your property to "mark the lines", what they will actually do is use colored spray paint to indicated different utilities.

    They will mark it from the street, right up to the house, and where they spray the paint, the utility is located directly below. It could be 1 foot deep, or 10 foot deep. Each color that they spray represents a different utility.

    One more thing - 811 is a FREE service, so even if you're not digging an inground pool, call to have your lines marked before you do ANY digging around your house.  

    Debbie Farnan
    SPP Pool Expert  

    Blog Author
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