How 811 Works

1) One Phone Call Starts The Process:

One easy phone call to 811 starts the process to get your underground utility lines marked for free. When you call 811 you will be routed to the Tennessee 811 Call-Center. Tennessee 811 agents will ask you for the location of your digging job and create a "ticket" which we send to affected utility companies.

Your utility companies will then send a professional locator to your dig site to mark the underground lines within a few days. Once your underground lines have been marked, you will know the approximate location of your utility lines and can dig safely, because knowing what's below protects you and your family. Always call 811 before starting any digging project!

2) The Call:

As any professional will tell you, smart digging always means calling 811 before every job. Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call - even "small" projects like planting trees and shrubs. Knowing when to call is half the battle.

When you call before you dig, you'll prevent unintended consequences such as injury to you or your family, damage to your property, utility service outages to the entire neighborhood and potential fines and repair costs. After all, do you really want to be the person who knocks out the neighborhood's cable service during the big game?

3) The Wait:

What happens next? Well, since your call was routed to the Tennessee 811 Call-Center, locate crews from member utility companies have found out exactly where you are planning to dig and are on their way to mark where those hidden underground utility lines are under your lawn and property.

Most locate crews will arrive to mark your property within a few days.

4) Special Note Regarding Private Underground Lines:

In some instances, a utility company may "not" locate all of your lines because certain underground facilities are customer-owned.

This happens most often with water & sewer laterals (those running from the meter to your house).

Other lines considered customer-owned include, but are not limited to: lines for outside lighting, invisible fencing, irrigation systems, customer fuel lines, or any other privately-owned lines.

Your Local County or City Government, Register of Deeds, or County Tax Assessor, may be able to assist you in determining the location of private, customer-owned lines.

TN 811 also maintains a brief listing of private locators, which may charge a fee to locate private lines. TN 811 does not endorse any specific private locator but would be happy to provide any contact information we have on record. Please contact us by dialing "811" if you are in need of this information.

5) Safe Digging:

Well, you called before digging, waited for your lines to be marked, and now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work!

By now locator crews, possibly from multiple companies, have been to your property and made sure to mark the approximate location of your underground utility lines. Check the area before proceeding with your project. If a member utility has not responded or if underground facilities are clearly present and not located, call Tennessee 811 again to have the area located properly.

When digging, make sure to always dig around the marks, not on them. Some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one - facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences.

Don't forget that with time, erosion or root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines, so remember to call again, each time you are planning a digging job. Safe digging is no accident.


6) APWA Color Codes:

These colors represent certain utility types. They may be marked on the ground in either paint, stakes or flags.