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First Step:
Contact 811

Contact 811

Contact 811 two to three business days before starting projects that involve digging or activities that disrupt the underground. This needs to happen every time - not just sometimes.

Contact 811 before you dig. Protect yourself, your community and the infrastructure that makes daily life possible.

811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to JULIE two to three business days before digging. Professional locators are then sent — for free — to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both so that you don’t dig into and damage an underground utility line.

Always contact your 811 center, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before digging in the ground.

A homeowner using a shovel and a professional excavator using an earthmover are required by state law to call 811.

Dig with C.A.R.E.

Calling 811 before digging on any property is the law.

Nicor Gas encourages homeowners and contractors to follow these safe digging guidelines and always dig with C.A.R.E.:

  • Call Before You Dig: Before starting any outdoor digging project, customers should contact 811 at least three days in advance to request to have underground utility lines marked. Requests to have utility operators locate underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free.
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting 811, wait for underground utility lines to be marked before digging. Locators will mark the approximate location of buried lines with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes corresponding to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow.
  • Respect the Marks: Once the lines are marked, only use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line. When you need to dig near location markers use the appropriate digging methods and hand dig within 24 inches of the marked utility lines. This will help prevent any damage to underground utility lines.
  • Excavate Carefully: Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to contact 811 to have lines remarked. 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 natural gas (rotten eggs) 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.

Watch and Protect for Business Customers

Nicor Gas monitors excavation activities around critical infrastructure. If, after contacting JULIE, it is determined that your project location is near a critical natural gas line, you will be contacted by a member of our Watch and Protect team. In many instances, a Nicor Gas representative will be onsite during digging. This service is free.



JULIE provides a free notification service for homeowners and professional excavators to use to request the location of underground utilities before they dig.


The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies.