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In the crawl space is the pressure switch for our well pump. A previous owner did the original wiring of it and made a connection or two with wire nuts and electrical tape but without a junction box. It is just laying in the sand - which makes me uneasy.

It is a 20A 220V circuit and I THINK it is 10 gauge wire. Would it be advisable for me to replace a length of it in order to run it along the joists for most of its length with junctions in boxes? And if so, should I replace it with a sheathed wire of some description?

As one of the pictures shows, it eventually ends up buried close to the well's water line - both of which pass beneath (or though) the foundation wall. Well Pump Wire Connection

Well Pump Wires

Path of Wires and Pipe

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  • The shrink-wrap splices just beyond the wire-nuts idiocy appear to be proper well-wire splices (crimp with waterproof shrink tube over.) The wire gauge should be noted on the writing visible in your second picture, but is not visible in that picture AFAICT. It would be just a bit further along the wire, and repeats every 2-3 feet.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 14, 2022 at 14:28
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    Having it above and not underfoot is a good idea. Code requires splices to be in an accessible junction box. Think single wires might need to be in conduit, where a sheathed cable can mounted to supports(joists). The second splice with wire nuts would not be nice to have if you had a flood down there and needed to work.
    – crip659
    Feb 14, 2022 at 15:26
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    What's the extra bit of red wire sitting in the sand in the first pic? Is that part of the wiring for the well or something else?
    – FreeMan
    Feb 14, 2022 at 16:04
  • The extra bit of red wire is nothing. a bit of wire cut off from somewhere that I didn't notice when I took the picture. Still working on removing all kinds of debris from down there. If single wires need to be in conduit, I'm in trouble because I find it hard to believe they are in conduit or sheath of any kind under the sand. And that would be a lot of digging before I got to the well even if the weather were favorable to do so.
    – Trevor
    Feb 14, 2022 at 21:10
  • The wires are supposed to be in conduit to the well head. Those splices may be under water type it is hard to tell it looks like there is the adhesive/ filler is coming out if so it is better than A normal splice but not the wire nutted ones if I was looking for a cheep and easy way a small wire mold or gutter could be used and splices can be made in gutters but not conduit.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 15, 2022 at 20:59

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Barring some abnormally lenient local code revision, the only way to "correctly" fix this is to run suitable new conduit to the wellhead, and relocate the wires (or put new wires) inside it.

I've seen some examples of code revisions that relax the rules for what's an acceptable conduit (outside the building/house) such as permitting Schedule 40 where normally 80 would be required, and permitting poly water pipe to be used as conduit (rather than properly marked for use as conduit poly conduit) but not "no conduit at all" without the cable being rated for direct burial.

Inside the well, the well casing itself serves as a conduit, and well wiring is permitted to be otherwise unjacketed wires. Outside the well, that does not apply.

You could improve the optics by retrofitting conduit (and junction boxes, or "handholes" where buried) to as far as you're willing to dig past the point where the wiring goes underground, but that's not really getting it done "correctly" as you ask.

Correctly is facing that you have inherited a code violation that should never have passed inspection (perhaps was never inspected) and it's going to be an unreasonable hassle to fix correctly. Be sure that well power is turned off at the breaker when digging, as there may be other naked buried junctions along the way. I'm also fairly sure that you need a grounding wire if trying to be "correct" - not just the two hots.

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    Thank you. I have come to accept that I have inherited literally hundreds of egregious code violations in this house. You have verified what I assumed to be true. For now I shall have to be satisfied with getting these offending wires off the ground and connected in a junction box, and plan for fixing it to code in the near future. Adding it to "the list".
    – Trevor
    Mar 12, 2022 at 14:05

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