Excavator FAQ

Why did my cell phone take me to a different 811 center?

The way your cell phone reaches the One Call center is through a tower to which the phone transmits a signal. When you place an outbound call the cell phone transmits signals to that tower, and in return, the tower transmits signals back to the cell phone. The tower has a line which runs into a service box at the bottom.  If calling someone on a landline, the service box sends the call to a central office which routes the call to the correct destination. A central office (CO) is the physical building used to house plant equipment including telephone switches, which make telephone calls “work” in the sense of making connections and relaying the speech information.​Cell phones generally look for a tower with the strongest signal.  These towers are located all over the place, creating a blanket of coverage within most of the United States. If you go into certain rural or isolated areas you may not have really good coverage due to fewer towers being in the vicinity. Therefore, depending on your location, the tower with the strongest signal may be in another county or state. An example of this would be when you’re in North Carolina near the border of Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia or South Carolina and you dial 811 from your cell phone. It is quite possible that the tower picking up your phone call is in the neighboring state which will cause the 811 telephone call to be directed to that state’s 811 center instead of NC811. Fortunately the centers will forward your call to the correct center when this happens.

What if I am nowhere near a bordering state?
If you dial 811 from a cell phone and you are not in a county that borders one of North Carolina’s neighboring states and your call is sent to an 811 call center other than NC811, then either the cell tower or the local central office that your cell phone connected to is programmed incorrectly and you will need to notify your telephone carrier of the problem. You should do this in the location where you attempted to reach 811 as your provider will need to note which tower was reached to identify the correct CO. Dial 6-1-1 on your phone to reach your wireless carrier. If you dial 811 from a landline and your call is sent to an 811 call center that is not the one you intended, then the local central office located in your area is programmed incorrectly and you will need to notify your telephone carrier of the problem.

What happens if I do not call before I dig?

If you do not find out where it is safe to dig in your yard, it is quite possible that you will find a buried utility service and potentially create a life threatening situation. Damaging a telephone or fiber optic line may not only cause you inconvenience by the loss of your telephone, cable TV or internet service, but could deprive the neighborhood of emergency assistance. This would make it impossible for law enforcement and emergency personnel to get the information they need to keep you and your community safe. Damaging gas lines could result in serious burn injuries and escaping gas could result in a community evacuation. Damaging an electrical line could cause major burns or electrocution.

What do I do if I damage an underground facility?

If this should happen, do not cover up the line with dirt…Stop digging! Effective October 1, 2014, the excavator performing the excavation or demolition that results in any damage to a facility shall immediately upon discovery of the damage notify NC811 AND the facility operator, if known. The excavator must allow the operator and/or the operator’s authorized personnel reasonable time to complete the repairs before completing the excavation or demolition in the immediate area of the facility.    All back-filling should be delayed until authorized by the operator.

The excavator must immediately notify emergency responders, including 911 services, NC811, and the facility operator if the damage to a facility results in any the following:

•          Discharge of electricity
•          Escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid
•          Endangers life, health, or property

The excavator must also take reasonable measures to protect themselves, other persons in immediate danger, members of the general public, property and the environment until the operator or emergency responders arrive and complete an assessment of the situation.

Please keep in mind, underground facilities can be damaged by any piece of equipment used for digging. Something as simple as a shovel can gouge, scrape, dent, or crease the casing that surrounds a buried utility line. While this type of damage usually does not cause immediate harm, it may lead to a future break or leak as the protective coating erodes.

Does NC811 have an app I can use?

Yes, we do! Download our app for FREE for Apple & Android. Click here to learn more and visit the online app stores.

What is Positive Response?

The Positive Response system allows participating utilities and contract locators to furnish you with the status of your locate request. You can call the toll free number of 1-877-632-5050 or click here to visit the Positive Response section of our website.

I need color code information

The following facility members will mark their lines in either water soluble paint or flags. The color codes are as follows: Proposed excavation will be marked in white, power lines will mark in red, gas lines will mark in yellow, all communication lines will mark in orange, water marks in blue, sewer marks in green and Purple is for Reclaimed Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines. Please stay at least 24 inches outside the exterior sides of any markings. If you must dig within the 24 inches please hand dig with caution. Members are not responsible for marking private lines. For more on color code information click here

What must I do to get my underground lines marked?

Dial 811 anywhere within North Carolina. Or call 1-800-632-4949. Please have something to write with.  At the end of the call you will be provided a ticket number that will allow you to check the status of your locate request or update your locate request if excavation will take longer than 15 working days. During your call you will be asked for your phone number, email address, the county, city, and address where the excavation will take place.  Upon providing your email address NC811 will send you a copy of your locate request. In addition at the end of 3 full working days you will receive an email stating what utilities have been located or cleared by our positive response system.

Can I call in a 3 hour ticket without checking the jobsite for visible marks?

A 3-hour notice can be requested for an existing request if the excavator is aware of OR observes indications of an umarked facility.   A 3-hour notice cannot be requested if the excavator gave less than a three business day notice.  NC811 cannot define what “aware of” means.  NC General Statutes do not define what “aware of” means.  When the excavator requests the notice they should be able to tell the CSR what type of facility they believe to be in conflict.

At what time does a ticket clear on the 3rd full working day?

End of day, which is 11:59 pm

When calling in a ticket for an intersection, how many streets can be included?

Two; but the total distance to be located cannot exceed 1,320 feet (¼ mile).

Acceptable:   From the intersection of STEPHANIE LN AND BROWN AVE, Locate both sides STEPHANIE LN for 1000 feet south and BROWN AVE for 250 feet west.
Reason why Acceptable: Total distance is equal to/less than ¼ mile.   1000ft + 250ft= 1,250 ft

Not Acceptable:  From the intersection of STEPHANIE LN AND BROWN AVE, Locate both sides of STEPHANIE LN for 1000 feet north and BROWN AVE for 1000 feet east.
Reason why  Not Acceptable:  Total distance exceeds ¼ mile.

On what day can a ticket be updated?

A locate request can be updated at any time between the 4th and 12th working day of the ticket.

Does a destroyed marks ticket get immediate response from locators?

No; Member facility owners have three full working days (excluding the day of notice) to provide a response and to mark any affected underground facilities.   These types of locates may be given a higher priority by the member facility owner, but that is not known by NC811.  State law does not address a locate by time frame for “re-marks”. It is the responsibility of the excavator to maintain and preserve any marked/staked areas.

Does a damage ticket notify every facility in the area or just the facility that was damaged?

All members within the area of excavation will be notified of the damage.  Some excavators may not be aware of the facility that was damaged and there could be possible damages to other underground facilities within the site of excavation.

Am I required to contact both NC811 & the facility owner to report a damage?

Yes; NC General Statutes require that the excavator performing an excavation that results in a damage to contact NC811 and the facility owner if known.

What is considered “private” utility lines?

Private utility lines include those for ground sprinkler systems, invisible pet fences, propane lines from the tank to the home/building, electric lines to outbuildings and decorative lampposts, satellite tv lines from the satellite to the home, as well as water and sewer lines. Facility owners are generally responsible for the underground facility up to the meter. Any underground facility between the meter and the home/building is considered to be a private utility line. Water meters are usually located in an underground box near the property line. Other utility meters are usually found on the side of homes/buildings. Contacting 811 will not get your private lines marked. You must contact a private line locator directly.

After checking the response system, a facility locator responded with code 60, Locator and Excavator agreed and documented marking schedule, but I was not contacted nor spoke with anyone. What do I do?

If more than one contact name was provided, such as the site contact, check with that individual to determine if they spoke with the facility locator.  If not, contact NC811 and speak with a Customer Service Representative who can retransmit the request to the facility owner in question.

How deep are the lines?

The depth of the facilities is not known by NC811.  Facility owners will bury their lines according to their industry’s code.  However, facility depths can vary due to installation practices, changes in grade, soil erosion, and other variables that occur over time.

I am only going a couple of inches deep, do I need to call?

Yes, the depth of the facility is not known.

Do I have to be at home to have my lines located?

No, the facility locator will arrive and mark the underground facilities in the vicinity of the excavation anytime within three full working days after the day the request was made. The area to be marked must be accessible (free from animals and locked gates).

Who do I contact when someone is continuously and purposefully removing the facility markings and assistance is needed immediately?

For immediate assistance, NC811 suggests local law enforcement be contacted.

What is the required response time for after-hour emergency requests?

NC811 is unable to provide an exact time when a facility will be marked or when a facility owner will provide a response.  NC811 does transmit the after-hour emergency request immediately to include an automated telephone call to the members within the area of excavation.  Some facility owners may respond quicker than others depending upon the member’s after-hour procedures.  Other factors include travel time to the excavation site from where the locator is located during the after-hours.

Is there a way to cancel a ticket once it’s been opened if plans to dig have changed?

Call NC811 and give the customer service representative your ticket number and the tell them you wish to cancel your ticket. Remote Ticket Entry users can go online and cancel their locate requests with the RTE system.

How do I update my account that is to be marked? For example I don’t finish my project within the time given; who do I contact.

You can either call 811 on the 12th day of the life of your ticket to update the locate request or you can use Update Lite online.
To learn more about the life of a ticket click here: http://www.nc811.org/safetodig.html
To use Update Lite click here: http://www.nc811.org/update-lite.html

If a general contractor asks for a locate ticket, does the sub-contractor also have to obtain a ticket if they are going to be excavating as well?

The law states (87-122(a) “Before commencing any excavation or demolition operation, the person responsible for the excavation or demolition shall provide or cause to be provided notice to the Notification Center of his or her intent to excavate or demolish.”

The person responsible may be the General contractor, even though the person performing the work itself may be a sub. NC 811 may take the ticket from the person responsible and then indicate the name(s) of sub-contractors performing the excavation itself. It is a CGA best practice that the person performing the actual excavation have a copy of the ticket information on site (BP 5-13 One Call reference at Site).

When can I remove the flags or other physical markings on my property?

Flags and other physical markings are good for 15 full working days and should not be moved or removed before that time unless all excavation work is completed and not expected to resume.

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