Call before breaking ground -- can you dig that?

DEAR HELOISE: I'm the manager of media and public relations for Texas811, the state's nonprofit "call 811 before you dig" entity so that underground utilities can be located prior to a dig. We are based in Dallas.

While many contractors and professionals know to make the free call to 811 before a dig, the rule (in Texas, it's a law) to call 811 also applies to homeowners.

You would do us a great service by reminding readers that if they are going to put in a mailbox, put up a fence, dig a hole for tree planting -- anything that would result in the earth being broken -- they should please make the free call to 811 before they dig

An operator will take their information and then notify the relevant utilities in the dig area. They have 48 hours to come out and mark or flag the locations of buried lines.

Texas has nearly a half-million miles of buried utilities -- gas lines, water lines, communications, electrical, sewer -- and more going in every day. In 2014, we took more than 2.5 million calls and are on track to take more than 3 million this year. Please make sure your readers are among them. -- Scott Finley in Dallas



Scott, happy to help, and thanks for writing. Readers, make note of this phone number. It's 811, and is a federally designated number that is nationwide. Before you start digging, call, no matter what size job you are planning. They do all of the work for you. It may even be the law in your state, like it is in my state of Texas. -- Heloise

DEAR HELOISE:I read the hint about using an emery board to renew an eraser. The problem is that most students won't have an emery board handy. When I was in school, I just "erased" on my jeans by rubbing back and forth a few times, and the eraser worked great again! -- Michelle B., via email

DEAR HELOISE:Here's a hint for maintaining your dryer: If you use fabric softener of any kind, you should occasionally inspect your lint screen. The softener accumulates there, but not visibly. Put the screen under a faucet to see if water pools on it, which is bad. Clean with a liquid detergent and a soft brush until water flows freely through the filter. -- Amy A., Comfort, Texas

DEAR HELOISE:When I am filling the gas tank, I take those few minutes to round up and dispose of stray litter in the car. It's a good form of multitasking. -- Katrina S., Dana Point, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE:When you have a pair of old reading glasses or sunglasses that are broken, don't throw them out; take the small screws out first to use on other eyeglasses. -- Joanne C., Anaheim, Calif.

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