a burst water mainHaving a burst water main can really cramp your lifestyle.

It’s easy to take your plumbing for granted, right up until you don’t have it. Unfortunately, there’s one step you need to take before a plumber can start fixing a main water line break, and if you wait for your plumber to do it for you it can take even longer.

That’s what happened to one unlucky client who recently had to deal with a main line leak in Manteca–and go a whole ten days without running water.

Today, we’re sharing this advice so that doesn’t have to happen to you. If you know someone else who has experienced a water main break, please pass it on.

Why Does it Take So Long to Repair Water Main Breaks?

Ancient Rome got a lot of things right, but here in 2018, we’ve improved on a few of their methods. In this case, we’ve moved our water systems from an exposed above-ground artificial canal into a sealed, underground tunnel.

But there’s one drawback to putting things underground. When something gives, you’ve got to dig. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might cause other problems. You could hit a gas line. You could hit an underground power line. If fate’s sense of humor is particularly cartoonish that day, you could hit a sewage line. And don’t forget, your shower is out of commission, your washer isn’t going to do you any good either, and you can’t even turn on the hose.

What’s that expression about “up the creek”?

So how do I get the 411?

You don’t. You get the 811.

What are you talking about, “811”?

811 is the phone number you dial to find out where it’s safe to dig. It’s like a map for finding buried treasure, except the prize is your restored water utility (and maybe the preservation of your dignity).

All you have to do is spend a few minutes on the phone answering their questions, and they’ll send a person to mark the locations of the subterranean obstacles in your way. And yes it’s free.

It’s not just for burst water mains, either. You will need to call 811 before you install a new mailbox, or before you put up a fence to keep the neighbor’s dog from digging up your roses. You should call 811 before you have a pool installed. Basically, if it involves a shovel any larger than the one in your kid’s sandbox, you need to call 811. In the case of a burst water main, calling 811 is particularly vital. 811 recommends calling at least three days before you plan on digging, but we know from experience that it can sometimes take longer.

Okay, is that it?

It’s really that simple! If you have any questions about how it works, you can visit their website, call811.com. They have resources for finding out the particulars of digging in your state. If you’re in Canada, where they don’t have states, don’t worry aboot it, they’ve got information on hand about services in your province.

If your line breaks, don’t hesitate. Dial 811, and enjoy a hot shower a little bit sooner.