How To Keep Outdoor Extension Cords Dry
Having your own space outside can be relaxing. It can also be the perfect gathering spot during the summer! Especially if you hook up some ambiance lighting and music! The only drawback to your oasis is the varying weather conditions. What if it rains? How do you keep your extension cord dry?
Cover your outdoor extension cords with plastic cord casings to keep them dry. You can also wrap the extension cord in a plastic bag to keep it dry or make a DIY cord casing with a plastic bottle. Wrap your outdoor extension cord with duct tape or electrical tape to temporarily keep it dry.
After reading this article, you will have a better understanding of how to keep your extension cords dry. Your knowledge will drastically decrease the risk of damaged cords and potential injuries.
Extension Cords At A Glance
There are three different categories of extension cords:
- Occasional use
- Frequent use
- Rugged use
These categories should be specified on the packaging using a designated letter. “W” is the selected letter for outdoor extension cords. The significant difference from this extension cord is that it is heavily insulated to withstand the elements.
Outdoor Extension Cords
Outdoor extension cords are made out of rubber, plastic, or vinyl covering. They are equipped to withstand moisture. They are also adapted to protect the wire from changes in weather and temperature.
Sunlight can break down the insulated sheathing. Therefore, it is crucial that you routinely check your extension cord for any damage.
Different Methods To Protect Extension Cords
Method 1: Manufactured Plastic Casings
Plastic cord casings can be found at local hardware stores, such as Lowes or Home Depot. They are relatively inexpensive– most are less than ten dollars. This casing aims to keep the cords within a protective housing.
Although, a few consumers have said that the casing does not stay closed or that it is too small to accommodate the wire. Make sure you check the size of your cords or bring them into the store to get the correct size covering.
Method 2: DIY Plastic Covers
Instead of buying a plastic casing, you could also make one. The benefits of making your own are that the supplies you need are usually readily available around the house.
Another benefit is that the cost is minimal since you are repurposing a recyclable bottle. The downside to this method is that you have to cut into the casing around the cord.
- Empty Plastic Bottle
- Utility Knife
Step 1: Cut A Slit
For this step, you will want to lay the bottle on its side. Using the utility knife, cut the bottle in the middle. Make the slit about a quarter of the way around horizontally.
Step 2: Cut The Holes
With your scissor, cut a dime-sized hole on either end of the slit. You should have one slit and two holes. When you do this, be careful as the edges of the plastic will be sharp. Wearing protection will help decrease the likelihood of a cut from the bottle.
Step 3: Place The Wire
Place the plug into the bottle through the slit. Feed the cords through the holes you just made. Finally, you will flip the bottle, so the slit is against the ground, and the wires are protected.
Method 3: Pallet Wrap
Pallet wrap is a heavy-duty saran wrap for wrapping pallets. This wrap is strong enough to keep the load from shifting or moving while it is in transit. It can be found at Home Depot for less than twenty dollars.
You can wrap this around the part of your extension cord that you want to protect from the rain. However, don’t wrap it too tightly as the heat from the cable could cause issues. Or you could wrap the pallet wrap around a DIY plastic cover for extra protection.
Method 4: Plastic Bag And Wire
Another easy way to keep your extension cord dry is to wrap a plastic bag around it. You can use a grocery bag or a flexible garbage bag. Just use wire or duct tape to secure it in place.
The only thing you need to watch for is condensation within the bag. So, make sure to check your connections and change the bags as needed.
Method 5: Duct Tape or Electrical Tape
Duct tape has hundreds of different uses! Almost every DIYer has access to duct tape. Although duct tape is only water-resistant and not waterproof, you need to watch out for puddles. Have a surface you can lay the cord on instead of laying it on the ground.
Duct tape and electrical tape are not long-term fixes. If you only need protection for a couple of hours, then this method would be excellent. Any longer than that, you may want to try a different technique.
Extension Cord Guidelines
What To Do
Only use one extension cord per outlet. If the extension cord does not reach where you need it to, you will have to get a longer cable. You could also move what you need to power closer to the outlet.
Also, inspect your extension cords routinely. Anytime you find yourself near the cables, make it a habit to check them. Damage or thinning to the insulation could allow water to leak in and posing a fire hazard.
Lastly, use the cord as a temporary power source. Constant use of the cord causes a rapid deterioration of the insulation.
What Not To Do
Do not shut your cord through in windows or doors. This route for your line can damage it. Windows and doors can add pressure, which will damage or deteriorate the insulation over time.
Also, please do not tack the cord down with staples or thumbtacks! This is very hazardous. If you do this, it will shock you. If it’s exposed to water and you touch that water, it can kill you. Not to mention, it will ruin the casing of your cord.
Lastly, never enclose the extension cord. The cord should be visible at all times and not built into walls or buried under the ground– they are not designed for that. Please, even though it may seem like a good idea, do not route your cord this way.
When Water Gets Into Your Extension Cord
If water gets into the cord and it is not plugged in, no harm, no foul. You can either dry it off with a towel or wait for it to dry. This will not cause damage to the cord itself. Once it is dry, then you can use it again.
If the cord is plugged in and water gets into the connection, then it can be dangerous. With the cable plugged in, electricity is going through the wire. When water gets into the plug, it can cause the circuit to short or cause a fire.
If It Catches Fire
First, ensure the safety of you and others around you. If the water in the cord has caused a fire, unplug the extension cord. Afterward, you can douse it with water or flour to extinguish it.
If the fire is blocking access to the plug, you can use a Class C fire extinguisher or baking soda. If the cord is still plugged in, do not use water. If the flames are large, call 911 to get help. It’s better to call and get help before it gets out of hand.
If There Is No Fire
If there is no fire, you still run the risk of your or someone else getting injured. Make sure everyone is away from the area and the puddle that it is in.
Kill the power to the cord by unplugging it or shutting off the breaker. After there is no power to the cord, you can go ahead and dry it off.
Can you use any extension cord outdoors?
When using an extension cord outdoors, you should only use the ones for that very purpose. Extension cords have specific ratings. An indoor cord cannot stand the rain or water of any kind, while outdoor ones usually can.
Can you cut and rewire an extension cord?
No, you cannot and should not cut or rewire an extension cord. This is extremely dangerous; someone could get seriously injured. It’s better to buy a new one.
What We Want You To Take Away
There are extension cords made for outdoor use and ones made for indoor use. It would be best if you did not use indoor extension cords outside. They were not created to withstand the sun or rain.
Even though an outdoor cord is usually water-resistant, it does not mean it’s waterproof. Choose one of the methods in this article to protect your cord better. That way, you can use your equipment safely and enjoy whatever project or event that’s at hand.
Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.
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