Power can be run to unlikely locations using extension cords. Thus, they simplify people’s lives. While handy indoors, you may wonder about outdoor extension cords so you can run power to your shed or run some outdoor lights in your trees.
However, if you are in a rush or don’t want to shell out for a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord for temporary use, you may wonder about using your spare indoor extension cords for powering your outdoor spaces. Issues may arise when you see you need to run your extension across the top of your garden or pathway.
It isn’t safe to leave an extension cord lying exposed so that you may think can you bury extension cord cable underground. While no regulations prevent you from having an underground extension cord, there are things to do to stay safe as there is no one size fits all solution.
In our guide, you can find out more about what was mentioned earlier and burying an extension cord safely for outdoor purposes. By the end, you’ll know what to do to bury outdoor extension cords and keep them safe for any outdoor use you have. (Read Guide to Cleaning Battery Terminals Without Disconnecting)
How to Bury Outdoor Extension Cords – Step by Step Guide
When you’ve decided what to do, you will have your strategy of the best location where you can dig and feed the cable from your indoor power source.
Here are the steps you need to start digging for your latest DIY projects and keeping the cable safe for your needs.
1. Choose Your Cord
Choosing the right cord is crucial, and in a perfect world, you would opt for larger types or the safest material, like direct burial UF cables.
With these types of cables, you can be confident that you won’t experience any problems with burning the wire itself due to overload or causing serious harm to anyone else or yourself.
2. Select A Safe Conduit
Various conduit types are available for underground use while laying or burying cords. However, metal conduits and nonmetallic water-resistant conduits require a distinct digging technique when used outside.
The geography and soil type impact where these conduits should be placed.
On both after installation, having concrete for protection would still be preferable.
3. Know Your Depth
Before installing the cable around your yard for external use, you might need to gauge a few different depths.
For walkways, a minimum depth measurement of 18″ should be used, while for yard lawns, a depth measurement of 30″ should be used.
Be aware that UF cables (underground feeder) can be buried even with no additional protection because of their durable and thick jacket design.
4. Install A GFCI Outlet
In all locations with a potential for moisture collection, particularly outdoors, this is also mandated by code.
The GFCI outlet will activate and stop the flow of electricity in the unlikely event of an electrical fault. In addition, the electrical appliance contains a built-in sensor that can help monitor the flow of electricity through cords and help avoid electrocution. (Learn How To Insulate Garage Ceiling That Is Finished)
Can You Bury an Outdoor Extension Cord?
Although it is possible to bury an extension cord, avoid doing so if burying the cord directly.
Using a standard extension cord as an outdoor extension cord, they lack the durability to survive being buried for very long.
If you have cable buried underground, you could find the weather eats through the insulator. Thus, a cord of this type should only be for temporary use.
Note: Only a direct burial UF cable can be buried. The UF cable comprises an insulator to sustain impact and adverse weather conditions.
Burying a regular extension cord is possible if you follow specific guidelines. However, you cannot simply dig and lay your cables.
Here are a few reasons why burying regular extension cable isn’t advisable.
- It’s easy to overload the electrical current on your extension, and thus you could have a fire outbreak you are unaware of in your yard.
- Another reason not to bury an outdoor extension cord directly is the risk of someone being electrocuted as they dig in the area where you buried the cable.
Is It Legal To Bury an Extension Cord?
The National Electric Code sets safe installation, design, and inspection standards.
It’s prohibited to bury an extension cord 18 inches deep as a permanent measure. If you bury one, make it temporary, use your conduit and follow all the rules and guidelines.
- To bury a standard extension cord underground is illegal and dangerous; even though the law doesn’t specifically label it as an illegal act, doing so can get you in trouble.
- Using an interior extension cord outside NEC standards is risky because of the insulator’s strength. Indoor extension cords use thin insulators, and these will break down in a short time.
- Do not leave a standard extension cord outside for more than a day. Use a conduit and other safety recommendations if you wish to bury it.
- It’s illegal to bury a regular extension cord. You’re jeopardizing your life and others who visit your property.
Can You Bury Wire Without Conduit?
You can, but only with a certain wire. The usage of the conduit is also encouraged to safeguard any wire type.
If you must bury a wire without conduit, use direct-burial wire. According to the National Electric Code (NEC), running such wire underground permanently without conduit is possible.
You need a conduit if you plan to bury the wire 18 inches underground. If you leave the wire outside, you also need a conduit.
If you’re burying UF wire 24 inches underground, you don’t need a conduit to directly bury this wire.
How To Bury Outside Extension Cord?
Avoid burying a light-duty extension cord if as all possible. An outside extension cord was never designed for permanent outdoor applications, regardless of whether they are buried, as they are not intended to be buried.
It would help if you spoke to a qualified electrician about a larger cable for potential long-term wiring solutions for permanent outdoor purposes rather than using an outdoor extension cord.
Let’s first look at some crucial safety guidelines and decisions you’ll need to make while determining how to bury an extension cord.
Why am I burying an extension cord should be one of your first questions. You will use it and roll it back up after usage for most extension cord uses.
There must be justification for burying the outside extension cord before doing so.
Perhaps you will have a large garden gathering, or kids are playing all the time, and you need to run a cord directly through access areas.
Length Of Use?
How long do you plan on the outside extension cord being in use? Hours and days shouldn’t be too much of a problem, yet you should never bury an extension cord as a permanent solution.
Power Source and Requirements
What do you have running? You should consider the size and number of electronics or appliances you use. Pulling too much current could result in a complete loss of power.
What kind of power source are you connecting to? You should connect to a GFI or GFCI-rated plug if it is your home.
When there is a surge in current, a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet works as a circuit breaker by monitoring the current flow. This protects you from electric shocks, power outages, and potential fires. (Learn How To Smooth Rough Concrete Patio)
You should check around your house before burying an extension cord to ensure there aren’t any buried gas, water, or electrical lines.
Magnetic sensors can detect some lines, although you can request a service by calling 811 to locate underground wires.
An extension cord or power cord should be buried in a rigid galvanized metal conduit or rigid PVC pipe to be used as an electrical conduit if it is going to be buried, even temporarily for outdoor use.
Another potential use for this conduit is a temporary cover for a buried extension cord.
Remember that the ground cover needs to be at least 18 inches deep for rigid PVC to be buried in a hard-wired electrical installation. Dig a deep ditch that is. Only 6′′ of ground cover is needed for RMC.
If you are not traveling in a straight line, plan turns and purchase elbows. Include extra conduit in your calculations than just the buried portion since you’ll need enough for it to emerge from the ground while still protecting your electrical wiring or extension cord.
Have a Secure Point For Your Cord
Plug both ends of your extension cord in. A power tool or power strip should be added, and the plugs should be firmly connected to the outdoor outlet.
If possible, consider tying the cord with a zip tie for safety and including a surge protector.
Keep an eye out for any unusual heat or discoloration of the plastic or vinyl while the cord is in use.
If either of these symptoms occurs, stop using the device since you may be experiencing overheating because of impedance and running the risk of failure.
Removing Your Buried Conduit and Cord
As previously said, for safety, it is not advised to bury an extension cord for long-term use in your yard, and it is only intended as a temporary solution.
After you’re done using the cord, you should dig up the cord and conduit.
Trying to dig up the cord without cutting into it can be challenging. Again, the conduit will serve as a good shield, but as you approach its depth, dig carefully.
You’ll already have much of the work done and the materials ready if your interim fix seems to be a better long-term fix.
UF, or underground feeder wire, is frequently employed for permanently buried cable installation. (Read My Brake Pedal Is Stiff And Car Won’t Start)
Extension cords extend power to regions without outlets, including the front yard. You’ll likely use an extension cord to extend power outside your home for patio lights or power to your shed, etc.
Extension cords are temporary wiring; if you want to bury an outdoor cord permanently, use a direct burial underground feeder (UF) cable.
Soil and moisture will degrade a regular extension cord buried underground, leaving you with more work and potential hazards for your home and family.