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Does 811 Cost Money? Uncovering the Truth About the Free Utility Locating Service You Need to Know

If you've ever wondered, "does 811 cost money?" then you're in the right place, as we're about to dive deep into the world of this essential, free utility locating service, and how it can save you from potential headaches when undertaking any digging project.

Introduction

When it comes to starting a digging project, whether it's planting a tree, installing a mailbox, or building a fence, there's one essential step that should never be overlooked: calling 811. But, does 811 cost money? In this comprehensive guide, we'll answer that question and provide you with all the information you need to know about this free utility locating service. From its purpose and process to its many benefits, we've got you covered.

What is 811 and Why Should You Call?

811 is a nationwide service designed to help individuals and contractors alike locate underground utilities before starting any digging project. By calling 811, you'll be connected to your local One Call Center, which will then notify the appropriate utility companies to send out locators and mark the approximate location of underground lines with flags or paint. This crucial step can help prevent damage to underground utilities, service interruptions, injuries, and even fines.

But, why is calling 811 so important? The simple answer is safety. According to the Common Ground Alliance, an underground utility line is damaged every nine minutes in the United States due to excavation work. By calling 811 before you dig, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidentally hitting an underground utility line, which can lead to costly repairs, service outages, and even personal injury.

The 811 Process: From Call to Marking

Now that you understand the importance of calling 811 before starting any digging project, let's take a closer look at the process involved. When you dial 811, you'll be connected to your local One Call Center, where an operator will ask for information about your digging project, such as the location, type of work being done, and the planned start date.

Once the necessary information has been gathered, the One Call Center operator will then notify the appropriate utility companies, who will send locators to your digging site. These locators will use specialized equipment to locate and mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with flags, paint, or both. This process typically takes a few days, so it's important to call 811 at least a few days before your planned digging project to ensure that all utilities have been properly marked.

It's important to note that the markings provided by locators are approximate, and you should always maintain a safe distance (usually 18-24 inches) from the marked lines when digging. Additionally, if you're unsure about the meaning of any markings, don't hesitate to contact your local One Call Center for clarification.

The Benefits of Calling 811

By now, you might be wondering what the benefits are of calling 811 before starting your digging project. Well, there are several advantages to using this free service, including:

  1. Preventing Damage to Underground Utilities: Hitting an underground utility line can cause significant damage, leading to costly repairs and service interruptions. By calling 811 and having utilities marked, you can minimize the risk of accidentally hitting a line and causing damage.

  2. Avoiding Service Interruptions: Damaging an underground utility line can lead to service outages for you and your neighbors, which can be both inconvenient and frustrating. Calling 811 helps ensure that your digging project won't accidentally disrupt essential services, such as electricity, gas, or water.

  3. Ensuring Personal Safety: Accidentally hitting an underground utility line, particularly a gas or electric line, can result in serious injuries or even fatalities. Calling 811 before you dig helps protect you and anyone else involved in the digging project from potential harm.

  4. Avoiding Fines: In many states, it's required by law to call 811 before starting any digging project. Failure to do so can result in fines and penalties, which can be easily avoided by simply making the call and having utilities marked.

Addressing the Cost: Does 811 Cost Money?

Now, let's get back to the burning question: does 811 cost money? The answer is no, 811 is a free service available to anyone planning a digging project. This service is funded by the utility companies themselves, as they recognize the importance of protecting their underground infrastructure and ensuring the safety of both their customers and employees.

By providing this service at no cost, utility companies encourage individuals and contractors to always call 811 before digging, which helps prevent damage to underground utilities, service interruptions, and injuries.

Conclusion

In conclusion, calling 811 before any digging project is an essential step that should never be skipped. This free service helps protect underground utilities, ensures the safety of those involved in the digging project, and prevents costly fines and penalties. So, the next time you're planning a digging project, remember to call 811 at least a few days beforehand to ensure a safe and successful outcome. And now that you know the answer to the question, "does 811 cost money?", there's no excuse not to make that call and protect yourself, your property, and your community.

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