Call before you dig

Planning to put in a new pool before the hot days of summer arrive? Or maybe you’ll beautify your yard with some pretty flowering trees or shrubbery? Before you dig any holes or excavate part of your yard, be sure to take an important safety step in calling 811. This is imperative for small jobs such as installing a new mailbox as well as larger ones such as building new fencing or a deck because the depth of utility lines varies. You don’t want to be the neighbor who inadvertently knocks out utility service to your entire neighborhood, not to mention potentially causing harm to yourself or your family.

Tennessee 811 is a nonprofit organization that helps homeowners and contractors locate underground utility lines so that digging can proceed safely. With one call, you can notify the owners of various underground utility lines who, within a few days, will mark the locations of the lines. Calling is required by law. If you dig without calling and damage utility lines, fines can be assessed and repair costs will come out of your pocket.

Keep in mind that private utility lines will not be covered by a call to Tennessee 811. Examples of private lines are water and sewer lines that run from your meter to your house. You might need to contact your local or city government, tax assessor or registrar of deeds to help locate these lines. Also not covered are customer-owned lines such as those for invisible fencing, outdoor lighting and irrigation. Tennessee 811 maintains a list of private locators. For a fee, these professionals can help you locate these underground lines.

The call center for Tennessee 811 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 811 or 1-800-351-1111 or via an online e-ticket program at The website also has an FAQ section to answer more specific questions about the process and what to expect.

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