Homeowner Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is Diggers Hotline?

A: Diggers Hotline is a free service that you use before you do any kind of digging to make sure you don’t damage underground lines.
Let us know at least three working days before you start digging and we will help you avoid costly or dangerous buried lines by alerting the owners of lines in the digging area. Diggers Hotline is not responsibile for the actual marking of the lines.

Q: Will all of the lines be marked on my property?

A: Diggers Hotline coordinates between excavators (such as a homeowner) and the owners of buried lines. It’s up to the owners of the lines to mark the locations near your job site with paint and/or flags.  Private lines, such as an electric line to a detached garage or other out-building or a line from a propane tank that may be on your property, are considered the responsibility of the landowner. A locating company can be hired to mark private lines. Click here to find a company near you.

Q: What are private lines and why don’t they get marked?

A: Private lines are facilities that are owned by homeowners or private businesses and are contained fully on their property. Because these lines do not cross in to the public right-of-way the owners of these lines are not required to be members of Diggers Hotline. As a result, the owners will not be notified that someone is planning on digging and the lines will not be marked. Examples of private lines include propane lines, a line after the meter, sewer laterals, sprinkler systems, ornamental lighting and electric lines to a barn or garage. A locating company can be hired to mark private lines. Click here to find a company near you.

Q: Do I have to call if I’m only using hand tools?

A: Yes, and it doesn’t matter how deep you are digging. State law (Wisconsin Statute 182.0175) requires notifying Diggers Hotline before you excavate, grade, trench, dig, drill, augur, tunnel, scrape, plow cable or pipe. Excavation, according to the law, means anything that moves, removes or displaces earth rock or other material in or on the ground.

Q: Why do you ask so many questions?

A: Many of the questions are required by Wisconsin state law and some questions are required by the underground line owners to help them accurately mark their lines at your job site.  To help prepare, a list of the required information is available.

Q: I can’t wait three working days. Can I get an earlier start date and time?

A: Early start dates must be obtained directly from each facility owner after submitting a locate request. Diggers Hotline can provide you with the list facility owners who will receive your locate request and their phone numbers.  All facility owners will need to agree to your earlier start date request.

Q: How deep are underground lines buried?

A: It depends on the type of buried line, and whether it was installed properly.  Although facility owners may follow depth guidelines when installing lines, they have no control over depth variation caused by human interference, weather, or other circumstances. As a result, depths are not provided by utility locators.

Q: Why do I have to hand dig within 18 inches of a marked facility?

A: Locating is not an exact science, and, therefore, the actual location of the facility could vary from the position of the marks. Also, state law mandates an 18 inch buffer zone on each side of a marked facility. No mechanized equipment can be used within this buffer zone; only hand digging is allowed. Also, you should stay 18 inches away from any utility structure at your job site.