What You Can't See Can Hurt You

Virtually anywhere you need to dig, there are probably underground facilities somewhere in the vicinity. 

Growing networks of telephone cables, power lines, and cable TV lines are joining the gas, water, sewer, and petroleum pipes. The odds of an excavator moving something besides dirt are growing each day. Even if you see overhead lines that doesn't rule out the existence of buried power, television or telephone facilities. Buried utilities are along your property line and sometimes between lots to serve neighboring homes. 

Pennsylvania 811 does not locate or mark the underground utility lines. We are a communications network that relays your dig information to the utility companies within your municipality. 

Five Steps to Safer Digging

You know exactly where you will be digging. The professional locators who will visit your residental property do not. The best way to communicate with them is to mark your proposed work site with white paint, flags or chalk, and to prepare before contacting 811:
  • Contact information including contact name, telephone number, and email address
  • County, municipality and ward number for Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia
  • Street number and street name
  • Nearest intersection to your property and a second intersection or nearest road
  • Location information, i.e. subdivision, latitude or longitude coordinates (if available)
  • Type of work being done, extent and method of excavation
  • Proposed excavation date and time

You can submit your locate request online or contact 811 by calling three to ten business days before you dig.  Business day means any day except a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. A business day begins at 12:00:00 am and ends at 11:59:59 pm. 

To submit a locate request online, please click here

It is very important not to begin work prior to the lawful start dates.
Marking-Chart-(4).jpgBeginning work before the lawful start date can result in the forfeiture of the excavator's rights and protection provided under PA Act 287, as amended.


Marking-Chart-1-(2).jpgA legal holiday may add one or more business days between the notification date and the date excavation will begin. 

Facility owners are required to respond to all locate requests. Individual facility owners will review your locate request to determine if they have any underground facility lines near your work site. In a day or two, each utility company with underground lines will send a professional locator to your work site to mark the approximate location of buried utilities with colored paint, flags, or chalk. Facility owner locators use standard color codes to indicate the type of underground lines. 

On the morning of the excavation, you will receive an email that details what each utility company did to mark the location of their underground lines if you have provided an email address when you contacted 811.
  • MARKED means you should see colored paint, flags, or chalk near the excavation site
  • CLEAR means the utility company does not have underground lines near the excavation site
Please be aware that the utility companies may not mark customer owned lines, such as service lines, lighting, pool connections, barbecue areas, or invisible fences. You may find a list of Private Underground Locating Service companies on our website who will mark customer owned lines.

All work should avoid damage to or minimize interference with underground facilities in the proposed excavation area. Be watchful for possible removal and tampering of marks. This can occur unintentionally as a result of things such as lawn mowing, normal street maintenance, activities of children playing in the neighborhood, or the weather. Avoid piling brush or spoilage on the markings.


You are responsible for the marks once the locator has left your proposed work site. If you suspect the markings have been compromised or eliminated you should contact 811 to request the facilities to be marked again. 

Five Steps to Safer Digging