Call Before You Dig
Planning a home improvement project? Planting a tree? Installing a fence or deck? WAIT!
Call 811* before you dig
When starting a project that involves digging, state law requires that anyone engaging in any type of excavation contact JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) by calling 811, a nationwide, toll-free number, to have utility lines professionally marked. Calling 811 is the most important step prior to starting a digging project because it alerts excavators to the presence of underground utility lines. After calling, you must wait the required amount of time before digging, so underground utility lines can be located and marked – free of charge – before you begin your project.
How does 811 work?
Utility companies that have potential facilities in the area of your dig site will be notified about your intent to dig. Free of charge, each affected utility company will send a professional locator to the digging site to mark the approximate location of your underground utility lines. Calls to JULIE can be made up to 14 days from the day of the call and can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Allow the required time for marking
After calling 811, the approximate location of underground utility lines will be marked with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes that correspond to the utility. Yellow paint indicates the presence of underground natural gas pipelines.
Respect the marks
Once the lines are marked, use the appropriate digging methods and hand dig within 18 inches of the marked utility lines. This will help prevent any damage to underground utility lines.
Make sure the marks remain visible during the entire project. If the marks are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to call 811 to have lines re-marked. Excavation work, including hand digging with a spade or shovel or plowing around a home or business is the most common cause of natural gas emergencies. If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinct odor of gas is present, call 911 and the Nicor Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 888.Nicor4U (888.642.6748) from a safe location.
Do not operate any machinery or any equipment that might cause a spark.
*Residents within the city of Chicago dial 312.744.7000