Mounting a 12 gauge extension cord in my garage?

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  #1  
Old 12-20-13, 08:21 AM
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Mounting a 12 gauge extension cord in my garage?

Hello.

I'm going to pick up a 12 gauge extension cord (shortest I need for the run) for plugging in my block heater at night. Because I have to back into my garage, the front of my car is at the opposite end of where the electrical outlet is. So, I'd like to mount the cord from the outlet and up along the underside of the (wooden) loft and then have it drop down to where the front of the car would be after I park.

My plan (see attached image) is to use nylon cable zip ties (which I normally use for grouping cat6 cables, when doing longer runs with that) for "hanging" the extension cord from the bottom of the loft and just wondering if there are any issues with this? I know the extension cord will heat up a bit once it's plugged into the block for a while, so I just want to make sure I'm not doing anything that'll pose any sort of risk?

Advice?

Thanks!
Kristin.

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  #2  
Old 12-20-13, 08:30 AM
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Extension cords are for temporary use and not a compliant substitution for permanent wiring. You need to install a receptacle close to where you want to plug in the block heater.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 08:41 AM
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CasualJoe is correct. But, practically speaking I don't see any problem. As long as the extension cord is rated in terms of gauge and length and there is no chance of the cord being pinched, scrapped or cut, I don't see a problem. Besides it is temporary. Is that outlet GFI? If not it should be. I would even consider using a heavy duty appliance timer (check on the amperage draw) to allow the heater to go on and off in a minimum period. Come warm weather, I would put in an outlet at the front of garage. I did this exact same thing. That outlet has become one of the most used outlets I have.

Think of it this way, if your car was left out all night and you needed the heater, how would you run the extension cord. Most likely on the ground.

I'm courious why you must back into the garage? It seems you can avoid the extension card altogether if you go forward.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 09:33 AM
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Joe gave you the safest and code compliant answer. It is not that hard to install a new receptacle closer to the point of use.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 01:26 PM
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I have to back into my garage, the front of my car is at the opposite end of where the electrical outlet is. So, I'd like to mount the cord...
Besides the fact that an extension cord should not be used for a permanent solution, how are you planning to have this work with your garage door? Does your garage have a pair of hinged doors?
 
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Old 12-20-13, 04:13 PM
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If you can run an extension cord, you can run conduit. There are code compliant ways to do it, and the big box stores have the parts you need, if your willing to try.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 04:26 PM
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I'd agree with Norm and suggest that if the size of the cord and length is appropriate for the load, that maybe a retractable extension cord reel would be good for this situation. If you have a plugin on the ceiling of the garage for your garage door opener, that would be as good a place as any to mount it.

How about all the poor suckers who don't HAVE a garage and have to run an extension cord out to their cars in the winter? Oh wait, thankfully winter is temporary.

At least he has enough sense to buy a 12 gauge cord.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 05:33 PM
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There are no code rules dictating how you are allowed to run an extension cord.
If you wanted to, you can run it in a way that handwrites your name on your garage floor.
However, the advice to install a car plug at some point is sound. If you feel like putting some cash into this project, you can buy smart plugs that only turn on when the temperature drops to a certain point.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 05:34 PM
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I don't see any problem. As long as the extension cord is rated in terms of gauge and length and there is no chance of the cord being pinched, scrapped or cut, I don't see a problem. Besides it is temporary.
I've seen extension cords temporarily installed the way the OP described for garage door openers that were still in place 20 or more years later.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 11:00 AM
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Not true Mr Awesome. Both NEC and OSHA must be followed when using extension cords. They are permitted for temporary use. Temporary is defined as no more than 90 days.

Here's some info regarding OSHA and extension cords
https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owa...ONS&p_id=25369
 
  #11  
Old 12-22-13, 11:10 AM
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I installed a drop cord on a retractable reel, about centered in my garage. 14AWG and 20 foot. From that day on, no more extension cords, sorry I waited 40 years to do it. You do need to run a recept to that reel.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 11:12 AM
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OSHA has no jurisdiction in a residential dwelling.

That said, Joe pretty much had it right with "not a compliant substitution for permanent wiring" which is in the NEC and does.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 11:28 AM
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Wouldn't "overnight" be considered "temporary use"? sheesh. That's what you do when you plug in a car at night. This is no different than someone who drags out an extension cord every day to use his weedeater. That's also a "temporary use".
 
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Old 12-22-13, 01:30 PM
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Technical language aside any extension cord used anytime for any reason is not to "code". An appliance is built with a length of cord rated for the use intended.

Internal (or in the wall) wiring is no diffferent from an extension cord if said cord is rated probably and shielded from undo heat, scrapping, movement, extreme heat and cold and is properly anchored.

From what I can see the OP is locating the cord away from any chance of it being hit or pulled or scraped. It's protected from the elements and is anchored in a reasonable fashion.

Yea, I know the insulation may not be the same along with specific terms and language that might apply to solid wire as opposed to stranded extension cord but extension cords are used and approved for use in many instances. Using one on a block heater seems to me to be a given use of the proper extension cord. I mean, how many outlet are located so close to an automobile parking place that an extension cord could not be used? Same goes for an battery charger. Mine battery never died within range of the supplied cord on the charger.

Speaking of extension cords, what are supplied with a portable generator?

Out door Christmas extension cords are in fact exposed to all kinds of weather and in fact the plug ends are very often buried in snow with no ill affects.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 01:30 PM
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Wouldn't "overnight" be considered "temporary use"? sheesh. That's what you do when you plug in a car at night. This is no different than someone who drags out an extension cord every day to use his weedeater. That's also a "temporary use".
What the OP proposed to do was not an overnight temporary installation.

I'd like to mount the cord from the outlet and up along the underside of the (wooden) loft and then have it drop down to where the front of the car would be after I park.
My plan (see attached image) is to use nylon cable zip ties (which I normally use for grouping cat6 cables, when doing longer runs with that) for "hanging" the extension cord from the bottom of the loft
 
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Old 12-22-13, 01:37 PM
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From what I can see the OP is locating the cord away from any chance of it being hit or pulled or scraped. It's protected from the elements and is anchored in a reasonable fashion.
No matter how you try to justify it, the OP's proposed installation violates the proper use of an extension cord by being semi-permanently installed in place of permanent wiring and not used as a temporary measure to power the block heater. Will it work? Probably. Is it right to do it this way? No. Will it cause a fire? I don't know and wouldn't want to gamble my home on it.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 01:44 PM
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I did state he should put in a plug. That is ideal.
For now, he is asking about how he plans to run his cord. So long as his overhead door isn't going to take it out, there is nothing wrong with it.
I rent a townhouse and have parking stalls in the back. I do not plan on speaking to my landlord and condo board about tearing up the yard to run pvc to a pedestal for plugs. I simply run a 50' extension cord from the dedicated GFI in the corner of the yard, along the top of the fence, over a small tree branch to clear the gate, and leave the female end on a hook on the fence to plug my car in. It stays there from October - March to be used when I need it. It does not get 90 days of continual use. That being said, I consider leaving it there to use once or twice a week (if that, sometimes it only gets cold enough for a couple of weeks) no different than pulling it out and running it once or twice a week.
I stick to my original post.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 01:47 PM
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Not to make this into a shouting match .
But given that the OP at this time is unable to put in an approved outlet for what ever reason, do you propose that each and everyday he unwind an extension cord and then rewind it again when he's done? Or does he not have use of the vehicle during cold days (which are temporary). How would you advise him?

Joe, I'm not disagreeing with you but to say that he is endangering his home and life is a bit harsh.

Anyway, we do agree its not perfect. We just disagree with the temporary arrangement.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 01:52 PM
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I simply run a 50' extension cord from the dedicated GFI in the corner of the yard, along the top of the fence, over a small tree branch to clear the gate, and leave the female end on a hook on the fence to plug my car in.
Now that's funny! In light as what was jsut being said.

Will it cause a fire? I don't know and wouldn't want to gamble my home on it.
From some of the professional wiring jobs I've seen that have been inspected and approved by both licensed electricians and local city inspectors I would more than gamble my house and life on the OP's layout.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 02:03 PM
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I think by attaching the cord to the wall/ceiling the OP is going past the point of temporary use. If they were to just plug it into the receptacle, and then plug it in at the point of use (car), I would consider it temporary. But by attaching it to the wall/ceiling they have now made it a permanent installation which would need to be uninstalled at the end of use, which I doubt would happen.

In Mr Awesome's humorous example the cord is running from point A to B. No attachment.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 02:13 PM
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Tolyn, I have a confession to make...
There is a zip tie keeping the cord on the branch so it does not slip off into the walkway in front of the gate.

And I still disagree. Every part of the cord will be accessible. OP can take a pair of side cutters and snip the zip ties anytime he likes. Or unplug it as he leaves. And consider this...
OP will likely not be installing a receptacle anytime soon, and continue using the cord. So out of the available options of running it across the garage supported up top, or along the floor/wall, which would you say is decreasing the likelihood of causing harm to the cord?
 
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Old 12-22-13, 02:22 PM
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Tolyn, I have a confession to make...
There is a zip tie keeping the cord on the branch
Aha! So you thought we wouldn't catch you. But you now have made this permanent . Not only that put you but a tree in danger. Shame on you.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 02:25 PM
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I made up for it norm. The top of the fence builds up a little snow. No overheating this way.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 02:57 PM
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Glad everyone can see the humorous side of this thread.

Seriously though, I have only seen one extension cord fire in my life and it was quite impressive. I was just a kid but still remember it distinctly- Dad had his battery charger hooked up to what was probably a 50 or 100 ft 16 ga cord. The charger was one of those big old boxes on wheels that probably drew a lot of juice, and he was charging the 6V battery on his old '49 Ford tractor. When he went to crank it over, it wouldn't start, but he kept trying anyway. Well all the sudden it sounded like a firecracker went off and the insulation around the cord untwisted itself from the heat and all the dry grass along the extension cord instantly caught fire as if it was fuse heading for a stick of dynamite.

Being a kid, I thought it was pretty cool. LOL But it did teach me a good lesson about the proper (and improper) use of extension cords. Incidentally, i believe the outlet the cord was plugged into is right on the power pole and isn't fused... very dangerous!!!
 
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Old 12-22-13, 02:59 PM
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I made up for it norm. The top of the fence builds up a little snow. No overheating this way.
Uh oh! Now you did it! Snow is a pretty effective insulator against heat transfer. If it wasn't, building igloos and digging a snow cave to shelter in if you're marooned in a blizzard would both be counter-effective strategies.

Oh, that poor overheated cord!
 
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Old 12-22-13, 04:29 PM
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Oh man, how could I have overlooked the igloo effect.

Sleeper, that would have been neat to see!

OP, you are from Canada so you know, we must do what we have to do to get to work on a -40 blowing snow day. You in fact have a plan to try and protect your cord from damage, have a thicker gauge cord than necessary, it does not run through walls or floors, and it will be 100% accessible. IMO, your plan is sound for the time being, but get a dedicated receptacle installed for next winter.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 05:10 PM
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but get a dedicated receptacle installed for next winter.
Sad thing is that she will still need an extension cord to get from the nearby receptacle to the cord on the block. Unless she can point the car nose first right at an outlet and get it to reach... LOL

This thread probably wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining if the cord was just laying on the floor, would it?
 
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Old 12-22-13, 05:49 PM
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The NEC does prohibit the fastening of flex cord to the building surface in place of permanent wiring.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 05:52 PM
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Uhhh, wouldn't that mean that all Christmas lights are illegal according to the NEC?
 
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Old 12-22-13, 05:56 PM
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They would not be considered flex cord and fall under the temporary usage allowance.
 
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Old 12-22-13, 06:07 PM
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Dang, I thought I had you there. LOL So you can run 200' of unsheathed 16 ga wire icicle lights in series, but just don't run a nice heavy 10-3 25' extension cord up the downspout and put a zip tie on it. Got it! Good thing we have an electrical code to protect us from ourselves!

I wonder how many places burn down because of Christmas lights each year? Is that pretty common?
 
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Old 12-22-13, 06:29 PM
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Sorry for being late to the game (though, looks like you guys had a lot of fun without me).

I back into the garage so I can drive straight out. My garage is in an alley and I drive my 5 year old daughter to school every morning and since there are a lot of maniacs speeding through the alley to shave 30 seconds off their morning commute, I feel way better driving out, so I can peak my nose out as I edge forward to make sure I get the "all clear" versus blindly backing out, daughter-first.

Last year I just left the old extension cord laying on the ground, so it got wet, covered in salt, drove over and yanked out of the socket once when I drove away forgetting it was plugged in (since I couldn't see it and wasn't used to it being plugged into the car). Thus why it's the "old" extension cord. So, I figured, if it's going to be plugged in for the winter months (mid-November through the end of February), might as well get it off the floor to keep it in good condition. Thought, if I temporarily hung it from the ceiling, it'd be a lot better than leaving it laying on the ground all winter.

As for it getting in the way of the garage door, not an issue. The loft only covers the back half of the garage so the door, when fully up, does not reach the loft (door motor is mounted up on top of the loft).

So, how about I don't use zip ties, and instead mount up some u-hooks. Then, I can "temporarily" hang the extension cord up there, non-perminantly, to keep it off the ground during the winter months (then, roll it up come spring and store it, temporarily, in the loft)? <G>

I have an indoor/outdoor heavy duty timer that I plug the extension cord into (no point letting it run all night when I only need it plugged in for a couple hours before I need it).

Thanks!
k.

(Oh, and "she" is a "he" with a girl's name... <G>)
 
  #33  
Old 12-22-13, 06:59 PM
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So, how about I don't use zip ties, and instead mount up some u-hooks
I'd be concerned that the metal u-hooks might scuff/cut the insulation on the extension cord.In that regard, would the cable ties be a safer option?
BTW, I've really enjoyed reading this thread. Informative, yet amusing.
 
  #34  
Old 12-22-13, 07:03 PM
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Sounds like a plan man.
And to help with your "oh crap I forgot to unplug it before I drove away", buy/make yourself a short 1 foot cord to plug into your long one. This way if you drive away you will likely only yank the 1' cord and not the big one off the ceiling.
Also, you forgot the part where you type:
"Don't worry dudes I'll install a new receptacle in the spring and use a standard 3' block heater cord."
 
  #35  
Old 12-22-13, 07:44 PM
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OK, what if I used rubber insulated u-hooks? Kidding, I'm doing the zips. <G>

And yes, I'll install properly come the spring, when I can spend longer than five minutes in there without my fingers going numb from the cold. <G>
 
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