Frequently Asked Questions

Who is required to notify SC811 before beginning excavation work?
Anyone who intends to excavate (See definition of excavation, Section 58-36-20 (9)), unless an exemption listed in the state law applies. To view exemptions, review section 58-36-110 of the SC Underground Facility Damage Prevention Act.

What happens if I do not call before I dig?
If you do not call before digging, it is quite possible that you will dig into a buried utility line and potentially create a life threatening situation. Even if you have used the service before and you think you know where the lines are, you need to call before every digging project to protect yourself. Remember, it is a free service!

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, which would prevent 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 electrocution.

Why won’t locators tell me the depth of the facilities?
Members are only required to mark the horizontal location of their facilities because facility depths can vary due to installation practices, changes in the grade, soil erosion, etc.

I have waited the required time and some or all of my lines have not been marked. What do I do?
If you have waited the full three working days to begin your excavation or the full ten days for subaqueous excavation and the member has failed to respond in Positive Response, you may begin excavating if you see no signs of a utility in the area. If there does appear to be a utility in the area, contact SC811 again and we will re-notify the facility operator(s) that has not responded.

If I’m a sub-contractor, do I have to get my own ticket, or can I work under the general contractor’s locate ticket?
SC811 recommends that all excavators request their own locate notices. Sub-contractors can and should be listed in the remarks section of the notice. We recommend you obtain your own legal counsel.

According to Positive Response, all members have indicated that they have marked their facilities on my dig site. However, there are no locate marks at my dig site. What should I do?
There are many reasons why a dig site may not be marked. The wrong job site or location on the job site may have been marked or weather may have destroyed the markings. We recommend that you contact the member directly to get clarification before you begin excavation.

Who is liable if excavation is started after the required wait time expires, but before all locates were completed and a damage occurs?
SC811 cannot advise on liability issues and recommends that excavators obtain legal advice from their own attorneys.

What information is available from SC811 if there is a dispute or litigation?
If physical proof is needed, SC811 can provide voice recordings of locate notice calls and copies of locate notices. SC811 is required to keep a record of these for 3 years. There are certain requirements needed to access these records. Charges may apply.

There are underground facilities in my yard, but they were not located. Why?
There are numerous reasons why the lines might not be located. First, if you were specific on the locate notice about where the excavation work was to take place, there may not be facilities in that precise location, which may cause a facility operator to enter a “clear” code. Also, members only mark the lines they install and maintain. Private lines are not marked. Examples of private lines are the water line that the plumber installed from the main to your house or an electric line that runs from your house to a detached garage. Private lines can be located by hiring a contract locator. For a list of locators who can find private lines, visit the member list on the website or call SC811.

What do I do if I damage an underground facility?
Stop Digging and notify the facility operator so they can repair the damage before you continue with your work. It is also mandatory to report damages to SC811, by calling 811 or filling out this form.

The excavator performing the excavation or demolition that results in any damage to a facility shall immediately upon discovery of the damage notify SC811 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.

An excavator responsible for any excavation or demolition that results in damage to a facility where damage results in the escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid, or electricity, or endangers life, health, or property, immediately shall notify emergency services, including 911, the notification center and the operator, if known. The excavator must take reasonable measures to protect themselves, those in immediate danger, the general public, property, and the environment until the operator or emergency responders have arrived and completed their assessment.

Please keep in mind, underground facilities can be damaged by any piece of equipment used for digging. Even shovels 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.

Having issues reaching SC811 when you dial 811?
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 South Carolina near the border of Georgia or North 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 SC811.

If you dial 811 from a cell phone and you are not in a county that borders one of South Carolina’s neighboring states and your call is sent to an 811 call center other than SC811, 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. Similarly, 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.

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