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Old 03-31-2010, 06:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Can You Bury Romex?

I'm driving up to Tennessee this weekend to help my son wire up an outbuilding. I've only been there once but if I remember correctly, he's got quite a few empty slots for additional circuits on his house box. He needs three circuits in the outbuilding which is about 30 ft away from the wall of the house that has the main box (mounted inside). Since he's on a raised block foundation I figured the easy thing to do was add three circuits to the house box, drop three 12 gauge Romex lines straight down from there, and bury the lines from the house out to the outbuilding. But, as the title says, can you bury Romex? If not, what's the right stuff for the job?

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Old 03-31-2010, 06:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Not standard romex. They make a direct bury wire called UF Cable that you can use and is very much like romex. But a PITA to strip. They will have it at Lowe's, HD, etc. I never direct bury though, I put everything in conduit...but that's just me.
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Old 03-31-2010, 06:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Can you bury Romex??

Yes you can but it doesn't meet code and you may be digging it up to replace after the insulation fails. Get wire rated "UF" Underground Feeder or "USE" Underground Service Entrance. These don't cost much more than Romex and you can pick it up at Home Depot or Lowes maybe even Wally World.
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Old 03-31-2010, 06:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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run grey conduit to a sub panel because of number of circuits. direct bury is not the correct choice in this situation. Make it permanent and will help in future expansion andsale of home.
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Old 03-31-2010, 06:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you run it in conduit underground it still needs to be rated for direct bury.

I have direct bury romex going to my driveway lamp posts, been underground for 21 years and is still in perfect condition. I just part of it up to locate it and it was still pliable and in very good condition.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I thought you couldn't run Romex type cable in a conduit (other than a raceway) ? Is UF ok for that?

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Old 03-31-2010, 07:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Of course, the correct response here is, "Check with your local code enforcement." I know in my town they are very helpful giving diy'ers info in advance so we do the job right.

As I remember when I did the wiring to my pool it had to be something like a foot if buried in metal pipe and 3' if plastic conduit. But, that is a 15 year old memory and in NJ which may not apply to you.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It's been a while and I'm no expert but...I remember it something like this:

NM(romex) cannot be installed underground under any circumstance.
UF can be installed without a conduit and must be a minimum of 12" deep.
UF can be installed in a PVC or EMT conduit but still must be a minimum of 12" deep.
UF can be installed in rigid conduit and must be a minimum of 6" deep.
THHN(what I would use) I believe follows the same guidelines as the UF above.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Lightbulb

If you go conduit, and you should, use large enough and put a poll string in it.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies. UF it is.

I just talked to my son and we're down to two circuits so I don't think I'll use conduit. Just two UF lines to the building.

Building codes? We're talking eastern Tennessee mountains in the middle of nowhere. Anyone ever heard of Flag Pond, TN? True hillbilly moonshine country. They don't need no stinkin' codes . I just want to do it so it works and it's safe.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Romex is strictly indoor, dry location sheathed wire. UF and USE is intended for direct burial. I guess you could put it in a conduit if you wanted, never known an inspector to complain about over doing it. What I did for service to an unattached garage was to put in short conduit on each side (house and garage) just to the bottom of the trench. Then run separate UF lines (I used 2/0) in the trench, no conduit. Inspector had no problem with that.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Ive buried underground rated Romex (direct bury) many times with no issues. But i did put it through some old steel pipe in areas I thought was succeptable to it getting damaged/cut.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:37 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I am 100% with what Hoosier said. That is what I did UF in plastic conduit to run my koi pond. I ran it along the fence, so I wanted the extra protection of the conduit if I was digging out a bush or flowers or something.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:42 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Anywhere that UF exits the ground , is exposed , and before it enters the structure or fixture it should be protected by conduit. Other than that it it typically fine to run UF without conduit. Do not bury standard romex.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:11 PM   #15 (permalink)
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My Dad buried Romex many years ago. A few years later (I was probably 15), I had to shorten an aluminum cable that ran from our house to a huge tree at the back end of the property. We had a pulley on it so my dog could run from the house to the tree line. I had to lower it to shorten it because the turnbuckle had been screwed all the way in.

I got down off the ladder and grabbed the aluminum wire (one end was attached to a wooden beam on the house - the other end was lying on the ground). I got the shock of my life. To this day I never want to have electric current flow through my body like that again. I couldn't let go of it. I finally fell down while getting shocked and managed to let go of it.

Under NO circumstances bury plain Romex. Get the right wire!
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:18 PM   #16 (permalink)
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We make cable just for this application.


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Old 03-31-2010, 09:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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LOTS of good information!

One thing to consider is the distance between the structures and the type of load you plan to put on it.
I personally would run an underground feeder to the garage and a remote panel. That way you can add circuits at the garage, and be able to reset a breaker without going backnto the house.If you're going to using a compressor or other motor loads the larger wire of the feeder will allow the motor to start easier without undue voltage drop. If your lights dim when the a/c kicks in, you know what I'm talking about.
I have a 400 amp service on my home and the lights don't dim unless I tell them to! 25 years of electrical work made me do it!
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:23 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Like USMC stated, the correct way is to call up the building department in the town in Tenn. that you will be doing the work in and ask what their requirements are. But, if you do that you could be opening a whole new ball of wax... then they may make you submit drawings to the city for approval and then require you to have it inspected prior to you covering up the wire and then prior to powering it up. It all depends on the municipality you will be working in. I am a Construction Project Manager and I have been doing this for over 25 years and we use direct burial cable all of the time.... but in some cities/states the cable must be in some type of conduit and some cities/states only allow direct burial for a temp situation only.

So the answer is no, you can't use romex :-)
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Old 03-31-2010, 11:37 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren View Post
If you run it in conduit underground it still needs to be rated for direct bury.

I have direct bury romex going to my driveway lamp posts, been underground for 21 years and is still in perfect condition. I just part of it up to locate it and it was still pliable and in very good condition.
This is incorrect. As long as the conduit is rated for direct burial (PVC, Galvanized Rigid, etc....) the wire can be single conductors such as THW, THHN, THHW, etc...

Romex is not rated for direct burial and Romex and UF is not rated to be installed in a conduit except for where it is exposed above ground and to a depth of at least 18" for protection from damage.

For more than 1 circuit, code requires a subpanel and main breaker at the outbuilding with separate grounding electrodes.

The underground conduit with single conductors would be my choice as an electrician and a contractor. Size your wire for the overall load needed at the oubuilding an size the conduit for the wire size you will need.

If it were me, I would run a 1" PVC conduit to the outbuilding and land it in a 12 circuit subpanel with a 50 amp main breaker. If you use a 50Amp back feed breaker for the main breaker, you will need to use a breaker tie down kit for the main.
For the 50 Amp feed pull #6 THHW wire- 2 for the hots, 1 white for the neutral. Install 2 ground rods at the outbuilding at least 7 feet apart and tie to the ground buss of the panel. Separate the neutral buss from the ground buss so it isn't bonded to the panel or the ground at the sub panel.

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Old 04-01-2010, 12:30 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Why codes are important, even in east moonshine country. I am assuming these structures are insured. If you have a fire the insurance company may investigate. If they find something that has been installed incorrectly or a permit was not procured, they might deny the claim even if it had nothing to do with the fire. I was a Realtor and property mgr. One of the big deals in representing property is "disclosure". If someone has added onto their property without permits and I know it, I must disclose this important fact to all concerned. If I ignore it and the house burns down, I will be sued big time for not letting the buyer know. Just another reason to do it right and not take shortcuts.
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Old 04-02-2010, 02:29 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Rick I did the UF. Couldn't get it as deep as I likeD, so I also put it through some small diameter conduit in case of a shovel strike.

AND I DREW OFF THE LOCATION WITH DIMENSIONS AND PUT THAT MAP IN THE CIRCUIT BOX.

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