How to Lay Electrical Cable Underground

Electrical cables.
  • 8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 350
What You'll Need
a Pick
a Shovel
Proper grade and size wire for the intended use
PVC tubing
Circuit breaker
Marker tape

Laying electrical cable underground is a project that a lot of people undertake at some point in their lives. There are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration when doing this project. It does not legally have to be done by an electrician despite what some people may believe. If you do decide to do it by yourself, you will have to do it by the book. There are certain codes that you will have to follow in your installation. Here are the basics of laying electrical cables underground.

Step 1 - Dig a Trench

The first part of the process involves digging a trench to put the wires in. Depending on what area of the country you live in, the trench may need to be a certain depth. Each area has a regulatory organization that watches over it in regards to electricity. Find out the required depth for electrical wires before you dig the trench. It would also be a good idea to check with the local authorities to find out if there are any wires or natural gas lines near where you are planning on digging. This way you can protect yourself in the process. Dig the trench to the specified depth and then you are ready to put the cable in.

Step 2 - Lay the Cable

After you have dug the trench to the proper level, the cable can now be installed. It is usually a good idea to run the cable through a PVC conduit instead of just throwing it in the ditch. Once the wire is in the trench, you need to have it inspected. To conform to the electrical codes, you will have to have your job inspected at three different intervals. The city will come and make sure that it has been dug out to the proper depth and make sure that the cable is laid correctly.

Sometimes, you will be required to install warning tape in the trench after you get the cable laid. Regardless of whether or not you are required to by law, you should most likely go ahead and do it. If someone decides to dig in that area, it could save their life. A few dollars for warning tape is well worth it if you can potentially save a life.

Step 3 - Finish Up

Once you have laid the cable in the ground and covered it up with soil, you will finish wiring it in. After this, another inspection is required. They will want to take a look at all of the wiring before you get everything completed. After this inspection, you will be able to complete the project. Put all of the plate covers in place and test everything out. Once everything on your end is completed, you will need to have it inspected a third time. This ensures that everything was done completely right and protects you in the future. If there is ever a question as to whether or not it was done correctly, you can prove that you had it inspected.