Can You Bury an Extension Cord Outside? (And How to Do it?)

Extension cords make it possible to run power to unreachable places. So, they make life a breeze for people. Extension cords also allow people to arrange their appliances wherever they please. It doesn’t matter if the appliance’s plug can’t get to the electric outlet nearby. 

However, when dealing with a live extension cord, safety should be a priority. The last thing you want is to leave an extension cord on the floor, just like that. Burying the cord would make sense. But the question you should be asking is can you bury an extension cord

Read on as we answer this question so you can make an informed decision. 

Can You Bury an Outdoor Extension Cord?

Yes, you can bury an extension cord, but don’t do it, especially if you’re burying the cord directly. Even if you do, have in mind that you might get yourself into trouble. The outdoor extension cord doesn’t have the quality to survive the unfavorable condition when buried. It cannot survive the elements for an extended period. 

However, if you bury an outdoor extension cord, expect the elements to chew through the insulator over time. It might not be long before this even happens. The outdoor extension cord is only for temporary use. Thus, choosing to bury it is a wrong move you might regret. 

A Pro Tip:  You can only bury a direct burial UF cable. Such cables can withstand the elements when buried, as their insulator can resist such an impact.  

On the flip side, you can bury an outdoor extension cord, but you need to follow specific guidelines. You can’t just dig up the ground and throw the cables in. You have to protect the cable first. You’ll know more about this shortly. 

Now, these are the reasons you should not bury a standard extension cord directly underground. 

Apart from the impact of the elements, other reasons not to bury an outside extension cord exist. One of them is that you might overload the extension, leading to damage and then a fire outbreak. If you had such an extension cord buried close to your property, you might regret your action. 

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A fire outbreak from an extension cord carrying an electrical current can cause significant loss. The fire may also spread much faster, given the material used in making the insulator. 

However, it’s crucial never to overload an extension. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a top-quality extension or a pricey one. Overloading is one of the easiest ways to damage an extension cord. 

Another reason to resist burying an outdoor extension cord is that someone can easily get electrocuted while trying to dig the same spot you buried the wire. There’s nothing as dangerous as a live extension cord with a broken insulator, whether it’s buried underground or lying on the surface. 

Is It Legal To Bury an Extension Cord?

The National Electric Code sets the benchmark and guidelines for safe electrical installation, design, and inspection. Whatever they state binds on every state across the U.S.

So, yes, it’s illegal to bury an extension cord, especially when you’re burying it 18 inches deep into the ground. If you must bury one, it mustn’t be permanent. Secondly, you need to use a conduit and adhere to other guidelines.  

If the plan is to bury your standard extension cord underground directly, then it’s illegal and dangerous. It’s unsafe. Even if the law hasn’t recognized it specifically, such an act can land you in big trouble. 

So, please don’t use an indoor extension cord outside, as it’s against NEC’s guidelines and considerable risk. The reason for this is the insulator’s strength. Most indoor extension cords don’t have thicker insulators. So, the elements can easily chew through them, exposing the live wire.   

If you plan to use an extension cord outside, ensure it won’t remain there for more than a day. And even if you plan to bury it, use a conduit and follow other safety guidelines. 

So, there’s no way burying a standard extension cord directly would be legal. Don’t forget that you’re endangering your life and the lives of other people that may visit your property.  

Can You Bury Any Extension Cord?

Yes, you can. Now, you might be confused about this answer, but don’t be. We’ll explain. If it’s a direct burial UF cord, you’re good to go. The cord’s insulator can withstand the elements. You can also bury such cords permanently underground or in a wall.

However, if the cord is not a direct burial UF cord, you can still bury it, but not straight away. You need to prepare the ground and use a conduit. That way, you won’t have a problem with the insulator. Another way you can bury any extension cord is when it’s only temporary. 

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If you wish to bury the cord permanently, ensure it’s a direct burial UF cord. If you want to bury a standard extension cord, it has to be temporary. You also need to choose the best location and follow strict safety guidelines. 

Can You Bury Wire Without Conduit?

Yes, you can, but it’s only possible with a specific type of wire. The use of conduit is also encouraged to add an extra layer of protection regardless of the wire type. 

If you must bury a wire without conduit, it should be a direct burial-rated wire. According to the National Electric Code (NEC), running such wire underground permanently without conduit is possible. 

The material used in making the insulator of such wire, including its thickness, is quite impressive. Both combined make burying the wire underground possible. 

A Pro Tip: If you plan to bury the wire 18 inches deep underground, you need a conduit. Another case where you need a conduit is when you plan to leave the wire exposed outside the house. 

But if it’s a UF wire, you don’t need a conduit, especially if you’re burying it 24 inches underground. That’s what the NEC states. You can bury such wire directly. 

Here are some benefits of using conduit

  • Conduit is reliable
  • It boasts a long life
  • It’s a breeze to install
  • PVC conduit resists corrosion
  • It gives the wiring system a good appearance
  • Protects conductors against chemical vapor, impact, and moisture

Can You Use an Extension Cord Permanently?

No, you shouldn’t. Only use the extension cord temporarily. The National Electric Code (NEC) is firmly against using extension cords in place of permanent wiring. That’s how it’s designed to work. 

If you find yourself using an extension cord for more than 30 days, then there’s a need for permanent wiring. If possible, contact an electrician to help install an electrical outlet close to the appliance so you can stop using the extension cord. 

It’s a huge risk using an extension cord permanently. It’s not meant for that. Furthermore, don’t run an extension cord through the opening on a wall, door, floor, ceiling, and other places. Why? It’s dangerous and against NEC’s guidelines. 

How To Bury Outside Extension Cord?

Firstly, know that you can bury an outside extension cord, but not directly underground. You need to follow specific guidelines and ensure that the cord is well-protected before lowering it to the ground. 

One simple way you can protect the outside extension cord before burying it is by using a conduit. 

Let’s run through how you can bury an outside extension cord without putting anyone in danger.

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Tip 1: Pick the best extension cord

You can bury any extension cord, but please, don’t! Any outdoor extension cord you’re burying should have the capacity to carry every single device you plan to use. Otherwise, you might find yourself burying more than one extension cord. 

So, choose the ideal extension cord after rating all your appliances. For this reason, it would make sense to choose a light-duty extension cord. Why? It boasts a larger cable and can power all the devices you plan to use outdoor. 

Tip 2: Plan your route

It would be unwise to bury an extension cord and end up with badly damaged grass. Please don’t say it won’t happen. If you don’t plan your route, it might. So, map out the places you want the cord to pass through

If possible, use garden pegs to map out the route. Hammer the pegs into the ground and ensure you choose a path that won’t cause more severe damage to the grass. 

Tip 3: Install your conduit

The conduit’s job is to provide an extra layer of protection to the cord. However, have in mind that different conduits exist. 

You can use a rigid galvanized metal conduit, but ensure you bury it 18 inches underground. Another option is a PVC conduit, which is resistant to corrosion

A Pro Tip: It would make sense to install a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interpreter). This device boasts a built-in sensor, enabling it to monitor the electrical current’s inflow and outflow. Once it senses a fault, it functions as a circuit breaker, preventing anyone from getting electrocuted. 

Tip 4: Mount the cable

Now that you have the conduit in place pass the cable through

Conclusion

So, can you bury an extension cord? At this point, we assume you know the correct answer to the question. You can bury an outside extension cord, though you must follow strict guidelines. One thing you must do is to have the cord go through the conduits. That way, you’re adding an extra layer of protection to the cord.

The bottom line is to follow safety guidelines when dealing with the live wire. You must be careful and avoid getting electrocuted.