Digging a hole in your backyard seems simple but it's not as simple as digging at the beach (couldn't resist the photo).
You may own your property and control what happens above ground but the utility companies have the right to bury pipes and lines underneath your land. In fact most of these lines are already there and you really don't want to damage them as you might end up with no power or worse if you hit a gas line.
It's not optional. You must place the call or you could be responsible for fines and repair costs if anything goes wrong.
When Digging a Hole, You Have to Call!
There is a federally mandated “Call Before You Dig” number, 811. It might not be well known yet but it's easy to remember and when you as the homeowner or a home professional calls, all of the affected utility companies are required to come out and mark where their lines are and it's FREE.
Here's how your phone call to 811 gets handled, and you probably don't realize how many different utility companies there are or the lines that might be lurking underground.
- Homeowner or contractor calls 811 a few days before digging will start.
- Call is routed to your local One Call Center, e.g. DigSafe in New Hampshire.
- Caller describes the project that includes digging a hole(s) – where you're planning to dig and the type of work you're planning.
- The local utility companies are notified and send people to mark the approximate location of their underground lines, pipes, cables, etc.
- Now you can dig safely!
If you'd rather call your local center, check the Call811.com website to get their name and contact information.
Digging a Hole, Size Doesn't Matter
You might think you're only putting in some shrubs or bulbs. The problem is you don't know where the utility lines are or how far underground they are so you need to call. Here is a list of the most common reasons to call. The call is free, the service is free and once you make the call, you'll know you've done your part to protect your family, your home and your neighborhood.
- Shrubs, trees and any type of gardening that requires a shovel.
- Building a deck, stairs or anything where you'll be sinking posts into the ground.
- Mailboxes and birdhouses also require posts.
- Fencing involving digging holes for multiple posts along the length of the fence.
- Pools and other structures where you're digging a hole, with a shovel or heavy equipment.