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.
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.
- Length of Wire
The distance is about 75 yards.
- Tripped Circuit Breaker
Now when I plug it in by the house to a GFI outlet, even with nothing plugged in on the other end, the breaker trips.
- Buried Wire Connection
I put a new plug on the end, is it possible the wires are crossed?
Background: Jeff, a Homeowner from Leawood, KS.
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
- Buried Electrical Wiring
This question prompted me to have some of my own questions
- What kind of wire did you use?
- How deep did you bury it?
- Buried Electric Wire Type
Direct burial cable Type UF, Underground Feeder, is the most commonly used cable for this purpose as long as it is sized correctly.
- The UF cable should be buried 24 inches deep.
- Where the cable emerges up from the ground it should must be protected with PVC conduit.
- Junction Box and Cover
Outside wiring should be placed in a weather proof junction box with an approved cover.
- Damaged Buried Wire
If you did not use this method of wiring then any one of the above mentioned components has possibly been damaged and the circuit may need to be replace using the correct wiring methods.
- Wiring Worked Before
If the wiring you installed long ago did work at one time, then the wiring is most likely not crossed up if the connections are still made the same.
- More detailed information can be found here in this website. Just click the Electrical Code Articles link below.
More about Home Electrical Wiring:
Troubleshooting and Repairing Electrical Wiring
For more information about Outlet Wiring
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
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Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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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!!!
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.