Advice & Tips

How Deep Can You Dig Without Calling 811? See Answer

Before starting a project, contractors and homeowners frequently dial 811 to make sure they won’t do any major harm. There is no minimum depth at which you must dial the number; it is there to prevent you from running into cables, wires, and gas lines. Of course, you should always dial 811 before you dig.

But how far can you go before dialing 811?

There is no set depth for when you must call 811 if you intend to dig deeper than 12″. If you have any worries about nearby wires or lines, it is a good idea to dial 811. The likelihood of running into gas, sewer, or electrical lines increases if you dig deeper than one foot.

Please continue reading for more information.

When You Can Dig Without Calling 811?

There are a few exceptions to the rule that it is generally advised to call 811 before digging. These exceptions may allow you to grow crops or plant flowers without contacting the government, but this is not always the case. These exclusions that do not necessitate dialing 811 include:


  • Emergency digging.
  • less than 12-inch digging on a private or noncommercial property that is carried out by the property owner or a representative of the owner.
  • Tilling of land within a utility easement for agricultural purposes that is less than 12 inches deep.
  • Outside of a utility easement, tilling soil less than 20 inches deep for agricultural purposes
  • replacement of official traffic signs that are not installed any deeper than they were initially.
  • If the original road is only six inches or less below the surface, road maintenance activities are permitted.

Purpose Of 811

Even though it may seem a little absurd to have to contact the government in order to plant a tree on your own property, it is necessary for your safety as well as the safety of others. 811 allows you to keep everyone safe and avoid gas pipes, electrical lines, or sewage systems.

811 was specifically created to avoid emergencies. Whether that applies to your contractor, your property, or you. When you see how many lines directly under your property there are, you’ll be glad you dialed 811.

What Happens When You Call 811?

If your circumstance prevents you from digging without first calling 811, it is wise to be aware of what to anticipate once you do. For all public utilities to be informed of your planned digging, make sure to call at least two business days in advance.

When planning to dig, you might be asked to mark the areas. You can use flags or white paint that you can get at a home improvement store. The underground utility locations will then be marked by a representative of the organization. Knowing where to avoid digging will be made easier thanks to this.

A unique color is assigned to each utility:

  • Blue=water
  • Green=sewage
  • Yellow=gas, oil, steam
  • Red=electricity
  • Orange=internet,telephone,cable
  • Purple=reclaimed water (non-potable water)

Why Use 811?

It can be annoying to have to contact the government before you plant a tree or some flowers on your own property. Despite this, at least it is free. You can dial 811 in place of being concerned about digging and possibly damaging a utility line.

It Is Free To Call 811 Dig?

Call 811 so that the facility operators can find their underground facilities before you start digging, regardless of whether you’re a homeowner or a professional who works in the excavation field. Any potential line hits will be less likely as a result.

There is absolutely no cost to you because this is a necessary service. Call now; there is no cost for the call or the professionals’ arrival. You should always err on the side of caution. You might have to pay if you unintentionally cross a line.

Is It Required To Call 811 Before Digging?

It is required by law that you call 811 before beginning any digging or excavation at a site. This is due to the possibility that more people than just you could be impacted if you accidentally cross a line. After that, the business will be responsible for covering the labor costs to put everything back in working order. In order to avoid this inconvenience, use 811.

When Should You Call 811 Before Digging?

Since this is the number to coordinate utilities in the US, at least two weeks are required. Up to 20 different businesses may need to schedule marking your dig site. Avoid procrastinating until the last minute. Mark the dig site, typically with white spray paint. This will let the businesses know where you plan to dig. For information specific to your area, check with your city office.

How Deep Can You Dig Without Calling 811 See Answer
How Deep Can You Dig Without Calling 811? See Answer

How Far Do Archaeologists Delve?

In order to reach sediment devoid of artifacts, we continue to dig. The layers that show no signs of human habitation are referred to as “culturally sterile.””

There are some places where that can be very deep. Everything appears to be in order in other places. We might need to go very deep to find strata (also known as “layers”) devoid of artifacts in places where sediment accumulates quickly, like depositional basins. In other places, the soil erodes, so everything our ancestors left behind is sitting right on top of the ground.

We don’t dig down to a single depth. We continue to excavate until we reach undisturbed sediment, which can be deeper or very shallow depending on the site.

Except for the “privy pits” (old toilets) and trash dumps, there was hardly any soil accumulation at my previous site.

The depth can be much deeper in other sites where I have worked. Even some very large items can become deeply buried in mudslide-ravaged areas like Rapa Nui (also known as “Easter Island”).

Is Failing To Dial 811 Punishable?

You Must Call DigAlert Before You Dig, Per California State Law Failure to do so may subject you to fines of up to $50,000 and the expense of repairing any underground facilities that are damaged. Why risk it?

How Deep Are Cable Lines Buried?

Except when installed beneath a concrete slab with a minimum thickness of 2 inches, a direct burial cable must be buried at least 24 inches deep. In this situation, the cable can only be installed 18 inches deep.

Why Do Homeowners Perform Directional Digging?

Not Familiar With 811

A CGA research report claims that over time, more people have become aware of the 811 dig safe procedure. Only 39% of people in 2008 reported knowing the 811 call before you dig number. In 2020, 50% of respondents claimed to be aware of the figure. This increase is positive, but it still means that 50% of the general public is unaware of the phone number to call before you dig.

The 811 logo and just over a quarter of people have seen or heard advertising that promotes the 811 call before you dig service, according to the report’s further reading.

These figures show that public awareness of the 811 dig safe procedure is slowly spreading. It can be challenging to increase homeowner awareness of the process.

Unknow The No Call Excavations Consequences 

Numerous negative effects may result from striking underground infrastructure. Damage to a line can disrupt service for a person’s home or the entire community, as demonstrated by recent telecommunications outages that made national headlines. Since calling 811 is mandated by law, homeowners are sure to pay attention when they learn that failing to notify may result in fines. Naturally, the worst-case scenario is that damage brought on by a no-call excavation results in significant harm or death.

For many homeowners, grabbing a shovel and going to the front yard is harmless. However, if they were aware of the danger of hitting underground infrastructure or the actual societal costs of damage to underground infrastructure—$30 billion in the U.S. in 2019 alone, according to The 811 call before you dig process would no longer be seen as optional, according to CGA.

Calling 811 Is Only For Trained Excavators

Homeowners may not call for excavations because they believe that only professionals should use the 811 call before you dig procedure. In actuality, anyone engaging in digging activity must make an 811 ticket request.

Why do homeowners believe that dialing before you dig is only for contractors? It sometimes comes down to marketing. The utility company updated its 811 call before you dig campaigns after learning that homeowners didn’t connect with the imagery, according to Emeka Igwilo, Chief Data Officer and Vice President of Operations Support for Southern Company Gas, in a conference roundtable.

“Igwilo stated that when [homeowners] see an 811 sign with a backhoe driver, they mistakenly believe it to be a professional excavator rather than themselves. “We made sure they appeared like homeowners. So instead of someone operating a backhoe, it was a gardener. You could notice an increase in homeowner call-ins after we launched our campaigns.”

Small Projects Don’t Need A Call

Even when homeowners are aware to “dial before you dig,” they frequently believe it’s only applicable to significant projects like building an in-ground pool. A lot of homeowners believe that their projects are too small to merit an 811 ticket, whether they’re putting up a fence or mailbox, or growing a garden or shrubbery.

There is buried infrastructure everywhere, with many utility lines being buried only a few inches underground. But the truth is that a lot of homeowners are unaware that they can merely bury a shovel in the ground to strike a line.

When homeowners only intend to dig in a small area and don’t want a utility company to mark their entire yard, a related issue is that they fail to call 811. To instruct the locators where to mark, homeowners can use white paint or white flags to outline the area they intend to dig. But some people might be unaware of this or, if they are, they might not want to go through the extra trouble.

Calling 811 Will Cause A Delay In Their Project

In March 2020, homeowners all over the country were issued orders to stay at home. found themselves spending significantly more time at home. As a result, home improvement projects increased dramatically. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, three out of four homeowners have undertaken a home improvement project, mostly in the backyard, according to NPR. For instance, the installation of fences increased by 144%.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s first few months have shown us that when homeowners want to make improvements, they want to do so on their timetable, not anyone else’s. And even though utilities typically reply to locate requests within a few days, homeowners might not be aware of this or they might think that the short waiting period is excessively long.

The End

Never, ever dig or excavate without first dialing 811, so they can get in touch with the facilitators and send them out to find their underground facilities. Damaged wiring and pipes are averted as a result of this. If you dig without first calling 811 and hit a pipe, you could be fined over $1,000 in addition to having to make good on the damage. However, even if you are perfect, you could still be fined if you are discovered. Therefore call 811!

Many thanks for reading.