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How To Install Outdoor Outlets


Electricity makes our lives easier indoors and out. It's obvious why we need them indoors: they power our appliances, help to light up our homes, and make it possible to watch TV and surf the net. Outdoor outlets are also useful for lighting. They make yard maintenance easier, too, and are handy for powering tools, grills, and, at a safe distance, pool equipment.

Proper Installation of Outdoor Outlets

All outdoor outlets should offer ground fault protection. When both GFIs and GFCIs sense a too-high flow of current from a hot wire, they trip the circuit to disable the outlet. The assumption is the electricity is not properly flowing through the wire but through something else. That something else can cause electrical shocks, electrocution, or fire.

While it's important to install indoor GFCIs in the kitchen, bath, laundry room, and anywhere else water is present, outdoor outlets should be both grounded and protected from wet conditions. For safety reasons, The National Electric Code (NEC) calls for all outdoor outlets to be GFCI ones with both test and reset buttons.

What Happens If an Outdoor Outlet Gets Wet?

Even though GFCI outlets are designed to be used near water, serious issues can still occur if they get wet. When the flow of electricity runs through the water, powerful electrical shocks can cause injury or death. Adults, children, and pets can all be affected. So, while these outdoor outlets are convenient, they need additional protection.

Whether they're being used or not,all outdoor outlets should have weatherproof covers. Even if they're under an eave or other overhang, blowing rain can make its way inside the outlet. Common dangers related to outdoor outlets include:

  • Shocks from being in contact with water near an outlet.
  • Fire when a plug is inserted into a wet outlet and causes a short circuit.
  • Power outages throughout your home which can result in damage to appliances and other electrical equipment.

Is Outdoor Outlet Installation a DIY Project?

Adding one or more outdoor outlets isn't a particularly difficult operation but unless you're familiar with all the ins and outs of working with electricity, it does pose some challenges-and risks.

To do it yourself, you'll need to:

  • Have the right toolsincluding a drill, cable clamps, cable ripper, wire strippers, wire connectors, exterior caulk or sealant, and a weatherproof outdoor electrical box with an appropriate cover.
  • Determine if there'san interior outlet that correspondsto where you want to locate the exterior one.
  • Remove the box knockoutto expose the outer wall.
  • Drill a holeto the exterior andinstall the circuit cable.
  • Prepare and install thepigtail wires.
  • Install the GFCIoutlet.

Outdoor outlets and covers come in a variety of makes, models, and configurations. Although they can seem fairly easy to install, for ultimate safety we recommend calling in a professional. And if you have older outdoor outlets with outdated covers that need to be removed, it's a good idea to have a pro do that for you, too, as they need to be removed with precision and care.

To learn more or to schedule an electrical inspection for your Jacksonville home, contact one of the qualified and skilled electricians at David Gray Electrical Services today. You can also call us at (904) 605-8190.