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This home has a PVC pipe running from outside the garage, to a pool+spa setup. The electrical circuit seems to be carrying 240V/60A - (primarily for the water heater). It runs on the ground beside a concrete slab for about 20feet and then it runs along the fence for 100 ft, ON the ground all the way.

<BREAKER OUTSIDE GARAGE> ----125ft long pvc --------<SUBPANEL NEAR POOL>

It sure is unsafe as PVC can break when a lawn mower goes over it and the wires get exposed.

Can junction boxes be used in this circuit? If yes, the easiest DIY fix seems to be - breakers off - cut the pipe, cut the wires and make junction boxes, - dig 6" deep trenches, put new wires and connect those to the junction boxes.

<BREAKER> ---good/safe section----junctionbox---6" conduit underground
           -----junction box-----<BREAKER> 

That way, the electrical circuit itself does not have to be done from scratch. I am told by someone that an electrician would have to disconnect the entire electrical circuit, including all breakers, lay out new pipes with PVC 2" underground, new cable and reconnect the breakers/subpanel etc.

  1. Can you have junction boxes in this circuit?
  2. Can you run a metal conduit mounted in the fence?
  3. Can you run a metal conduit on concrete posts to keep it above the ground?

[EDIT/ADD] - The markings on the pipe indicate: Ridgeline SCH 80 Rigid PVC Conduit Max 90 C Wire NEMA TC2 Sunlight Resistant NSF NRTL UL 651"

PVC Pipe on ground with 240V/60A circuit

  • Is the PVC schedule 40 or 80? Yes you can add junctions (condulet's), schedule 80 PVC can be run attached to posts or structure. EMT can be run outside with water tight couplings but its not much better if at all compared to schedule 80 PVC. – Ed Beal Feb 23 '18 at 19:55
  • The markings on the pipe indicate: "Ridgeline SCH 80 Rigid PVC Conduit Max 90 C Wire NEMA TC2 Sunlight Resistant NSF NRTL UL 651" – rpkrpk Feb 23 '18 at 20:24
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    The pipe should not be laying on the ground but it can be attached to structure above ground – Ed Beal Feb 23 '18 at 20:53
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Trying to tie the comments together for an answer:

Schedule 80 PVC needs to be buried 18" to meet NEC table 300.5. The depth for PVC can be reduced to 12" with a 2" thick concrete cap (but it's easier to just dig down 6 more inches). Schedule 80 pipe can be connected to structure above ground since you said it was listed sunlight resistant, so that is an option.

Rigid or intermediate metal conduit can be buried 6". Can metal conduit be attached to concrete post above ground? Yes it can. I like to mount the pipe so it is not in direct contact with the concrete but single or double hole straps would pass inspection (I use kindorf strut and straps).

I would try not to cut the wire, disconnect and pull back: if you cut each end you will now have 2 splices (failure points and each requires a junction for the splice). Instead: if you tie a small rope to the end you can pull the wire back, cut the pipe, put in couplings, and a new section of pipe; now pull the rope with the other end disconnected until the wire is long enough to reconnect. Figure out where the wire is in the pipe and go at least 8" further to make your next cut: this will provide enough slack to make your splice at a junction box. Then you could extend the wires as needed.

I think I covered your questions hope this works out. Good idea to make it code compliant and safer.

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It should be buried at least 18" or have at least 4" concrete cover extending 6" to either side of the conduit. Or, as mentioned, it could be attached to a wall/fence above-ground.

Pouring a 4" slab that extends 6" to either side (i.e. minimum 14" wide, centered on it) would be the straightforward solution.

Burying it 2" would be just as bad as it is now, from a code point of view.

See NEC table 300.5

If trenching rather than pouring concrete, you might want to make it a more direct run (lacking a diagram, I'm guessing it turns to run along the fence, rather than being a straight run now) in which case there would be no splices needed if the resulting run is shorter (one side of a triangle rather than two sides.) Assuming a right angle turn, you'd go from 120 feet now to about 102 feet on the diagonal, leaving you 18 feet "extra" (roughly 3 of which you would use going down to the proper trench depth.) If digging, beware of your own services (septic tank, sprinkler lines, possibly underground conduit between garage and house?) and call whatever service (dig-safe or similar) marks utility underground services in your area sufficiently in advance to have them mark any of their services. You do NOT want to dig through a utility line without having called (if you call, they mark it, and you hit one where it's not supposed to be, it's on them, not you.)

  • Got it. I changed the title and removed the words 'high voltage / high current' – rpkrpk Feb 24 '18 at 5:59
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It's obvious whoever did this shoddy work did it "gypsy" without pulling any permits. Given that you are interested in doing it safely and to Code, I would pull the permits.

The required burial depths are quite different than that person decided he wanted to do. Note that when a burial depth of X inches is required, that is from the top of the conduit to the surface. If it calls for 18", don't trench 18", trench 21" if the conduit is 2". Also remember to put in your warning tape in the locations discussed in NEC 300.

One would never, never cut wire in conduit. One would pull the wire out of the conduit whole and intact, make the changes to the conduit routing, and then fish and pull the wire back in once the changes to conduit were complete. This is the whole point of using conduit. It would be best to watch your wire and conduit lengths very closely and make sure a junction box is where it needs to be for any splice which may be required.

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