Make your next project a success – Start with 811

Planting a tree? Installing a fence, deck or mailbox? If you’re planning to dig, start with a call. Big or small – begin your next home improvement project with a call to 811.

When you call 811 at least three business days before you plan to dig, your local utilities will mark their lines so you can dig safely.

811 Logo

Not doing it yourself? Make sure your contractor calls 811 before starting the job. We all have a tool that prevents damage to our pipelines – our phones. Keep your friends, families and neighbors safe by spreading the word about the importance of safe digging.

Three reasons to call 811

  • It's free
  • It's easy
  • It's the law

Before you put that shovel into the ground for your next project, stay safe and remember to call 811 first. Once your utilities are marked, be sure to respect the markings by digging with hand tools within two feet of the marked utility lines.

Submit a ticket online

Virginia 811 has an online tool for you to request utility markings.

Submit Ticket

If you damage an underground natural gas line:

  • STOP what you're doing - Don't light a match or operate anything that could cause a spark
  • LEAVE the area immediately
  • CALL - From a safe location, away from the damaged line, call 911 and 1-800-544-5606 and wait for crews to arrive
  • When it is safe, also call 811 to report the damage

Clogged sewer line? Call a professional and 811

Clearing a clogged sewer line may seem to be a simple fix, but it’s important to call 811 and a professional plumber to ensure the clog is cleared properly and safely.

A call to 811 will help determine if your clogged line could be caused by another utility line crossing through the sewer line – a rare situation called a cross bore. Cross bores can pose a safety risk, if not addressed properly. Calling 811 won’t guarantee a sewer line is free from cross bores, but it will show you if there are utilities nearby.

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Your sewer line's backed up. Time to spring into action and fix it fast. Stop, take a minute to call 811 first. A Columbia Gas representative will mark the gas line on your property in two to three hours in most cases. A plumber can then use a camera to ensure that the line can be safely cleared. But you can't see everything, so if a gas line is marked near the clog, contact Columbia Gas immediately.

These simple steps can prevent a serious safety risk to you and your family, even save lives. If you or your plumber tries to clear a blockage using a mechanical snake or root cutter, a gas line could be damaged. This can create a dangerous situation, potentially allowing natural gas to fill the sewer and back up into your home.

All across the state, in both old and new neighborhoods, cross bores may have been unknowingly created in sewer lines. Cross bores occur where one underground utility crosses through another. Gas or other utility lines may be in sewer lines outside your home. Be safe. Before you act to mechanically clear a clogged drain, call 811 first. Protect your family, home and neighborhood.

How do cross bores happen?

Many utilities try to minimize digging in yards, sidewalks and driveways when installing underground pipelines and cables. The technology they use allows for safe and efficient construction in existing neighborhoods and urban areas but can lead to cross bores when a line inadvertently intersects underground facilities.

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What is the sewer line safety program?

We’ve created a program to identify and correct cross bores. Along with our contractor, we partner with local municipalities to inspect the sanitary and storm sewer lines and take any necessary action.

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Why is it safer for a professional plumber to clear my sewer line?

Professional plumbers know all the precautions to take when dealing with blocked sewer lines. And they know to always call 811 so utility lines can be marked before work begins. In addition, many plumbers can use a camera to inspect the inside of the sewer line — so they can conclude for certain whether the blockage is a cross bore.

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Responsibility for piping graphic

Gas piping responsibility

We own and regularly inspect the gas lines up to your gas meter. You own and should regularly inspect the gas lines from your meter to your gas appliances. Any lines that are buried and not maintained could be affected by corrosion and leaks.

For your safety, have your gas lines from your meter to your gas appliances inspected periodically for leaks and corrosion by a qualified professional plumber, HVAC or appliance repair contractor. If your contractor finds an unsafe condition, it should be repaired immediately and/or natural gas service should be shut off until the repair is made and a safety inspection is completed.

Pipeline right of way

Can I put a shed there?

A pipeline right of way is the area of land over and around a gas line. The right of way can extend up to 25 feet from the center of a gas line. To safely operate, patrol, inspect, maintain and repair our lines, we regularly inspect the area to ensure nothing has been built, planted or installed within the right of way area. If you plan to dig or build near the pipeline right of way, call us before moving forward with your plans.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulates the safety of our industry.

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Have an emergency?

If you smell gas, think you have a gas leak, have carbon monoxide symptoms or have some other emergency situation, go outside and call 911 and then call us at 1-800-544-5606.