ask the electrician
Electrician Training Electrical Certification wiring recessed light fixtures Electrical Wiring Electrical Troubleshooting and Electrical Repairs wire outdoor light fixture Home Electrical Wiring Diagrams
wiring home generator and transfer switch wiring a 220 volt range cord outlet Wiring for GFCI Outlets Wiring Outlets and a Switched Outlet Wiring and Installing Ceiling Fans and Remote Controls wire dimmer switch wiring diagrams for switches wiring a dryer cord and 220 outlet circuit breaker panel
Electrical Wire and Cable

Why Does My Underground Electrical Wiring Not Work?

How to Install Underground Electrical Wiring: Common Problems when Installing Underground Wiring and How to Fix Them, Make Sure Your Underground Wiring is Installed the Right Way.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

Hooking Up a Generator to the House Panel
Using a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit
for Backup Power

NOTE: A List of All my Helpful Videos
Will Display at the End of This Video
So Keep Watching So I Can Help You Wire it Right!

Check out my YouTube Channel:
» AskTheElectrician «
and Subscribe!

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Installing and Repairing Underground Electrical Wiring
Electrical Question: Years ago I buried an insulated electrical wire in the back yard of a lake house and attached an outlet on one end and a plug on the other.

Background: Jeff, a Homeowner from Leawood, KS.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Jeff.

Application: Installing Underground Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Depends on the number of lights that will be required within the circuit wiring.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tool, Voltage Tester, trenching equipment or shovels .
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools and the condition of the soil where PVC conduit will be installed.
Precaution: Identify the lighting circuit or power source, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring and connections.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring for outdoor lighting should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

How to Install Underground Electrical Wiring

Common Problems when Installing Underground Wiring and How to Fix Them

More about Home Electrical Wiring:

Repair Electrical Wiring

Troubleshooting and Repairing Electrical Wiring

For more information about Outlet Wiring
Electrical Outlets

Home Electrical Wiring Codes

Electrical Code Articles for Home Wiring

Electrical Code Directory covering electrical-underground and electrical-wiring.

For Best Results Consult a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Locate An Electrical Contractor in Your Area

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book
Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

More articles about Electrical, Underground and Home Electrical Wiring:
« Previous Next »
How to Correct Light Switch Wiring that Does Not Work How To Splice Electrical Wires

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Why Does My Underground Electrical Wiring Not Work?”
  1. Roger says:

    Hi, firstly the cable is probably cheap old stuff that’s hygroscopic, that lets water in or thru. Cable used for underground work must be designed or modified to work this way.
    Even the mains supply cables have problems, the UK uses a cable type for a dangerous systems called PME, it’s where the neutral is the outer concentric. Often the cable outer sheath gets damaged, lets water in and again as the cable has been made on the cheap the concentric is aluminum (aluminium to brits) and it corrodes away. This then causes untold damage to equipment with fluctuating voltages.
    Moral use the best stuff. I have many stories about this sort of thing!
    Incidentally, you are lucky the breaker went, often the cable lays in the ground eating up electric, worse one I saw was 20 years at about 3 kw day in and day out!!!

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Thanks Roger – Great Insight!
    Roger, I would love to have you add your knowledge about UK electrical wiring, perhaps we can exchange some ideas through emails. I have a few photos that were sent from an electrician in Romania which have not been added to this website, and my plan is to add a section with the some solid info about the UK electrical system, so I invite you to share your wisdom.
    As for direct burial cables, I have had a similar experience where one leg of a direct burial 3 phase feeder was lost, we found it using a tester, the area of the ground was dry and warm. We turned of the circuit and dug down and discovered that the insulation of the aluminum cable had been nicked and over time the leaking voltage and earth elements deteriorated the aluminum to the point of turning to powder. I can only imagine how much voltage went to ground over time. I personally do not like direct burial cables and prefer installing PVC conduit.