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Can You Bury an Extension Cord?

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Over the past year, more time at home has meant an increase in DIY home projects. A lot of people have gone to great lengths to improve the way their kitchens, bathrooms, and other parts of their homes look.

One area of focus, in particular, has been the yard. As we spend more time at home, having a welcoming outdoor space is more important than ever.

One thing people love about an improved outdoor space is accent lighting. Others want a power source for people to plug a laptop in while they type out emails under the sun with a cup of lemonade nearby.

That, or you need the power to run a fountain or some other type of designer landscaping.

If your outdoor space needs power, there are a few options. One economical way of getting power to other parts of your yard is with a DIY installation of an extension cord.

However, a lot of people don’t like the way trailing cords around the grass or pathways look. It can be a safety hazard as well. So, can you bury an outdoor extension cord?

You can bury an extension cord but you shouldn’t. The typical extension cord that you pick up at a home improvement store isn’t designed for underground long-term use. They can present safety hazards and, eventually, you’ll run into reliability issues.

Gardener picking up an extension cord from the grass ground

Let’s cover some of the reasons why you shouldn’t bury an extension cord. We’ll also go over some alternative options that will get you the power where you need it.

Why People Run Underground Cables

This part is simple. People want cables out of sight. They get in the way of the clean look that people who plan their outdoor spaces work so hard to achieve.

People can trip on them or snag something on them that could tear and damage whatever electronics they are connected to.

Extension cords are designed to be temporary solutions. They’re lightweight to make them portable and shouldn’t be considered permanent.

If you’re going to be building something like a koi pond that needs power, or you want to install outlets near the firepit in the backyard, then you’ll need something more permanent than an extension cord.

extension lead power strip, extension cord on beige background

Here are Some of the Dangers of Burying an Outdoor Extension Cord

So, what’s the big deal about burying extension cords? They’re meant for outdoor use, no? Not only will they not provide the long-term solution you’re looking for, but they can be dangerous.

We’ve already covered the fact that these aren’t designed for underground use. If you bury them, you can get a gopher, a groundhog, or some other rodent chewing on them when you’re not looking.

They can also start a fire if they get overloaded. That can be a nightmare if you’re at home asleep or away on vacation.

Finally, a buried extension cord can shift around easily, and you or anyone else working in your yard could shovel into it or cut into it on a however or while doing other projects in the backyard.

If you need a long-term power supply outside, you need to go with something other than an outdoor extension cord.

Can You Leave an Extension Cord Outside?

While burying an extension cord is not a good idea, even leaving one outside shouldn’t happen for more than a day or two.

Again, these cords are not intended for long-term use. If you need a long-term power supply, find a more permanent solution.

Electric extension cord with wires on the road

Ideally, an extension cord should only be outside at the most for one or two days.

Long-Term Solutions for outdoor power?

What is the best/easiest way to run power outside long-term? Instead of using an extension cord, you can install underground power cables that will be safe and last for years.

The most important thing you need to find out before you start digging in the yard is whether what you’re planning on doing is up to code.

Different buildings will have specific requirements, and local governments typically outline safety standards and other requirements any underground power source will have to meet. It helps ensure it can withstand things like water, animals, and any other concerns outdoors.

Installing outdoor underground cables is certainly possible for the aspiring home DIYer. With some tools, you can have the project done in a couple of days.

Here are some of the steps you should follow to make sure things are done correctly.

  1. First, plan your route – Before you start digging, outline your planned route to minimize damage to the grass. Use garden stakes and hammer them in where you want the cable to run. Tie a string between the stakes if you want to help you stay in a straight line as you go.
  2. Start Digging – With a shovel, start digging a trench where you will place your cables. The local code will determine what depth you have to go to, so make sure you know how many inches or feet down you have to dig.
  3. Install Conduit – Metal conduit will need to go under any concrete or other hard-to-reach areas where you can’t dig.
  4. Feed the Cable Through – Once the trenches are dug and all of the conduits are installed, start feeding the cable from inside the house. Connect it to your final destination like a light fixture or a water fountain.

With the proper planning, you can have a reliable, safe, long-term power supply outside away from your house or building.

If you ever feel uncertain about the steps to follow or whether you’re doing it correctly, you can talk to your local government building references or hire a contractor to come help with the planning.

They can help you set the stage and you can do the work if you want to make it a home project. A good contractor will be happy to assist and give advice when needed.


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