We moved into our house within the past year. In the front of the house, underneath the staircase leading up to the front door, is a tied off cable that looks like this. Does anyone know what kind of cable it is or what purpose it might serve?

The cable Looking at the end of the cable

I attempted to point a non-contact voltage tester at the ends of the cable, but got nothing from it... but then again, it might be so shielded that nothing would happen.

  • 3
    Really old telephone wire that once ran from a utility pole or direct bury would by my first guess if the conductors are solid. If they are stranded, I'm going to guess low voltage lighting or sprinkler.
    – Mister Tea
    Sep 29, 2016 at 12:22
  • 1
    Are there any markings on the cable? Can you show where it comes from?
    – Tester101
    Sep 29, 2016 at 12:32
  • It is a country-specific problem that needs a country-specific tag I think. Sep 29, 2016 at 18:35
  • "underneath the staircase leading up to the front door" - is there a doorbell with the same wire going to it? Are there any signs that the cable was once secured to the wall leading to somewhere that a doorbell might be mounted? Sep 29, 2016 at 18:37
  • Can you tell where the other end leads to?
    – chepner
    Sep 29, 2016 at 18:47

3 Answers 3


Looks like Landscape wire.

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It's low voltage cable (150 volts), so there's likely a transformer and/or control box at the other end. Though the previous owners may have taken all the landscape lighting (leaving the rolled up cable), and possibly the control module as well. So you might just find where the control module used to be.

  • I agree its two heavy for lamp cord and not wide enough for old TV antenna wire. The owners probably took the transformer because they can be spendy also.+
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 29, 2016 at 13:00

It looks like lampcord. It could have been an extension cord for some device, although an outlet end would usually be left rather than cutting it off to a plain wire.

I could have been used to power outdoor lights. These often use lampcord as their feed. They are usually directly wired rahter than plugged into an outlet type connector. If they were removed, the wire may have been cut rather than more carefully removed.

The risk here is that, if it powered lights, it may be controlled by a switch. If so, the line is dead now, but could be repowered by turning that switch on.

Speakers are also usually powered by lampcord. This could have been an outdoor speaker and the wire was cut rather than disconnecting it when it was removed.

Checking with a tester is a good move. If you got no reading when the tester was held at the cut end probably means it is not hot (at least not line voltage hot).

Your best bet is to try to trace it back to a source. Get a sense of where it enters the building and see if there is any indication of it on the inside of the house. Also look for switches whose use is unknown.


As @MisterTea already mentioned in a comment, old telephone "drop wire" (the outside wire from pole to house) is exactly what this looks like to me. Are you new-fangled enough that you don't have a landline telephone service to the house? Your house pre-dates that trend.

  • 1
    We are new-fangled. No home phones. And the house is old. However, all the phone wiring is in the rear of the house and this is in the front, so I'm skeptical...
    – Jason S.
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:36

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