If you own an outdoor property, you must take steps to protect the outdoor wiring and sockets from damage caused by rain, snow, ice, wind, and other external forces. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to protect these components. Here are six tips for weatherproofing your outdoor sockets and wiring during your next home renovation project.
Use GFCI Protected Installations in Outdoor Locations
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles are designed to protect people from electric shock. They contain a built-in circuit breaker that detects ground faults and automatically interrupts the flow of electricity should something go wrong. GFCI receptacles are available in both indoor and outdoor models, so it’s a good idea to install them in all of your outdoor locations.
If you’re not sure the GFCI receptacle has enough weatherproof abilities, it’s best to combine them with weather-resistant enclosures for additional protection. You should also be keen when buying your GFCI since choosing between the outdoor and indoor models can be confusing, especially if you’re a new user.
Use Outdoor-Rated Extension Wires and Cord Sets
Extension cords and cord sets are useful for bringing power out from indoors to your outdoor electrical setup. Not only do they help the electrical system reach more areas, but they also provide additional outlets that can be especially useful on large projects or for powering multiple work lights at once.
However, not all extension cords and cord sets are created equally; some are designed specifically for outdoor use and are made with thicker insulation, which helps the cord resist moisture.
If you plan on choosing the best cord at your local hardware store, keep in mind that not all extension cords and cord sets will be marked as fit for outdoor connections. Some may even have a small icon of an outlet box to designate them as outdoor-rated.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when choosing outdoor extension cords:
- Outdoor extension cords and cord sets should be rated for exterior use. This is indicated by the designation “W,” which is weather resistant
- An outdoor extension cord will have a higher amperage rating than an indoor extension cord. This is because outdoor appliances, such as air conditioners and heaters, can draw more power than their indoor counterparts
- Outdoor cords also come with three-prong plugs, which offer better protection against electric shock than two-prong plugs
Ensure that you check all these factors before purchasing an outdoor extension cord, as it can be a costly mistake to buy one that doesn’t meet your needs.
Use Weather Resistant Receptacles
Even if the cord is weather-resistant, it does not mean that your sockets or receptacles are as well. If you have outlets near areas with heavy rainfall or snowfall, such as overhangs and patios, consider investing in outdoor receptacles to help keep water out. The best way to go about this is to consult with an electrician, who can help you identify and install the correct socket plugs for your needs.
Install a Cover in Wet and Damp Locations
Outdoor electrical wiring will at some point have to pass through wet areas under your roof or in open spaces. You can install a gutter or downspout cover to keep water from the wiring. If dealing with wires passing through open spaces, you can also shop for specific covers that are marked suitable for damp locations and choose to install these.
Allow Cords and Wires to Be Air Dried Before Covering Them Up
One of the mistakes homeowners make when installing outdoor sockets is covering cords, cables, or wires while still wet from moisture, rain, or melted snow. You should never cover them up before allowing them to air dry first because doing so will prevent the water from evaporating and lead to corrosion or electrical faults.
Use Bubble Covers
Bubble covers are great additions to your outdoor outlets because they can fit any standard cover size and offer excellent protection. They are made from a smooth, impenetrable material by water, dust, cold drafts, or hot exhausts. In addition, the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that every new outdoor electrical outlet has to be weatherproof.
Even if you already have GFCI outlets installed, it’s always better to add an extra coat of protection as weather conditions can be worse than ever. The bubble cover will keep water from getting into the wiring and even keep the GFCI dry.
Sometimes, you don’t want the GFCI to shut down the electricity on the circuit as this will inconvenience normal operations in other single outlets under the same electrical connection. Bubble covers will keep the courses dry and prevent frequent shutdowns by the GFCI protection.
Weatherproofing outdoor sockets and wirings shouldn’t be challenging if you understand what weatherproofing tips work for your condition. Whether a professional contractor or a DIY homeowner, you can always use these tips to protect your outdoor sockets and wiring from harsh weather conditions.