Underground wire not using UF cable?

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Old 01-27-06, 08:22 AM
wgc
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Underground wire not using UF cable?

Trying to prioritize projects here ...

My house has a buried wire on a dedicated 20A breaker running to a shed with lights and outlets, inside and out, that may not be using UF cable. Plus I don't know if there are any extra grounding requirements not met. I may get crucified for asking this here, but what are the likely consequences and how serious are they? I can't fix everything at once and need to set priorities. It seems like the likely consequence would be an underground fault requiring digging up the yard, but replacing the cable would definitely require digging up the yard. As an example, the shed also has exposed wiring and I would prioritize putting that in conduit higher, since that would protect people (me). But then there is a list of projects in the house I would do first, starting with anything I can define as "baby-proofing".
 
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Old 01-27-06, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by wgc
My house has a buried wire on a dedicated 20A breaker running to a shed with lights and outlets, inside and out, that may not be using UF cable. Plus I don't know if there are any extra grounding requirements not met.
It is not hard to check all this. Takes maybe ten minutes.

what are the likely consequences and how serious are they?
You could have a shock hazard in the shed or even in the yard. But it is not likely.

likely consequence would be an underground fault requiring digging up the yard
Not "likely", but possible. An underground fault can in rare case lead to electrocution. But with 120V it is not likely unless the wire is shallower than code requires.



An effective but simple way to protect yourself is to replace the breaker with a GFCI breaker. If it trips, you might have a problem.
 
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Old 01-27-06, 10:00 AM
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You should be able to determine if the cable is UF or not, by examining it where it enters the shed and/or the house. If it is not UF it will fail much sooner than if it were UF. And it will eventually fail if it is not UF.

To protect yourself until you correct the problem, GFCI protect the cable before it leaves the house. Do this with either a GFCI breaker, or by installing a GFCI receptacle or faceless GFCI before it leaves the house.

A single circuit running to a shed does not require any external grounding at the shed.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 09:55 AM
wgc
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Fixing that wasn't so bad

Hey, maybe this just got big enough in my head to deserve puting it off unil a later date, but I did it anyway. It is a relief to get one thing fixed and it only took a few minutes (and $35) while doing other projects. It turns out it is UF wiring underground. Actually, I couldn't find any markings but it is that gray color that UF has, so I assume that must be what it is.

I had the panel open anyway to add a circuit so it was simple to install a GFI for that wiring.

Thanks for the advice.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 10:19 AM
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The gray color won't necessarily tell you it's UF (I have plenty of UF that's white), but there are other ways...

1) It should be stamped on the sheath...as stated before, check where it enters the shed or leaves the house...

2) If you can see one end or the other in a j-box or your panel...look to see of the conductors are "loose" inside the outer jacket/sheathing (usually the ground will be wrapped in paper) or are "encased" in the outer sheath...looks like the sheath was "poured" around the conductors.

Loose= regular NM
Encased= probably UF


:nfunny:
 
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