There are a million reasons to use an extension cord outside. Whatever reason you have for using them, you need to make sure that you’re using them safely and properly. In this article, we’re going to talk all about ways to cover your outdoor extension cords and/or keep them dry.
Before moving forward it’s important to point out the safety implications of a wet and uncovered extension cord. As you probably know by this point, water and electricity don’t really like each other.
Using an extension cord outside will lead to the cord getting wet. Measures need to be taken to keep the plug and any damaged sections of the wire dry. A little bit of water can lead to an electrical fire, a shock to you, shorting the electronic device, or sparking across the cord.
Take this topic very seriously. Now, on to the fun stuff.
Why Keep Extension Cords Covered Oustside?
It matters for a few reasons. Aesthetics, safety, protecting your electronic devices, and extending the life of your extension cord.
Using extension cords in the front of your home comes with a risk of making your yard look messy. As people drive by or visit, they’ll see cords tangled and thrown along your lawn going to their destinations.
When it comes to outside lights and decorations, you don’t want jumbled extension cords hurting the presentation. Keeping cords covered and carefully running them will make your home look better from the outside.
A safety warning was mentioned earlier, but there’s more to it. Sure, there’s the risks of fire, shorting, and sparks, but there’s also a tripping hazard.
Your extension cord is undoubtedly long, and it has to be plugged into an outlet eventually. That means that from the outlet to the end-user, your cord will be snaking along. Without covering it correctly, that’s a tripping hazard for anyone walking in the area.
Untamed cords are notorious for getting tangled around our feet as we try to navigate around them. Covering them is a quick and easy way to eliminate this safety concern.
Keep Animals Away
Little critters will try to chew their way through your cables. This can lead to obvious problems, so you should spend some time to critter-proof your cords.
Protecting Your Electronic Devices
If you’re using an outside extension cord to run tools, a wet cord can ruin that. Getting water in the plug can short your tool and lead to a more expensive and timely repair. A quick waterproofing effort will save your tools, lights, inflatables – whatever is plugged into the extension cord.
Extending the Life of Your Extension Cord
Finally, this will keep your cords working for longer. The life of an outdoor extension cord is much lower than an indoor one. They will be stepped on, driven over, tripped on, and they’ll get wet.
In an effort to save some money and keep your cords working well, it’s always best to cover and waterproof them whenever possible.
What Part to Focus On
If you’re looking to eliminate a tripping hazard and make your yard look better then you’ll need to focus on the cord itself. If you want to keep the extension cord dry, then you’ll need to focus on the plug. If you want the best of both worlds, then you’ll need both.
Covering the entire cord is typically not necessary unless it’s being run in a high-traffic area.
How To Cover Extension Cords Outside To keep Them Dry
Let’s start with some options to keep your extension cord dry while you use it outside.
Tape it Up
As a DIY-er, you already know the power of a piece of tape. In this instance, we’re going to use electrical tape.
Where the plug connects to the extension cord, tightly wrap electrical tape. You want to layer the tape over itself as you wind around the plugs. This keeps the rain away from the socket and doesn’t disrupt the electricity. You might even want to wrap single piece of duct tape on the exterior of the plugs that are wrapped in electrical tape. This addition better seals where the plugs connect and keeps the electrical tape in place.
This method is inexpensive, takes very little time, and it’s a simple process. When you want to unplug, just unwrap the tape and you’re all good. DO NOT use a knife to cut the tape where the two plugs meet. You can go too far and touch the connected metal prong, electrocuting yourself. Additionally, a knife can cut the cord if you try to use it further up the plug.
If you can find some heavy-duty plastic bags, they might help out here. You can wrap the bag around where the two plugs connect, and use tape or just tie the bag firmly to the cords on either side. The plastic bag will keep the water away, just take an occasional look at it to make sure there aren’t holes or tears.
This is another inexpensive option to choose. As long as the bag is robust and tied correctly, then there won’t be any problems
Next up is a solution that’s inspired in the kitchen. You can use air-tight, also known as watertight, Tupperware to help. Drill a hole that is a little larger than the OD of your extension cord. Use a knife and slice a small slit down. Now you can contort this cut to put your extension cord in it. Do the same for the other side and plug your cords together when they’re both in the Tupperware. Put on the lid and flip over the container. Voila! Just make sure you take your leftover chicken out of the container first!
Covering Up the Cord
If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing option that protects your cord, then you’ll want to cover it up. This can be done in junction with the previous suggestions to keep the cable dry at the same time.
Run It Along Your Siding
Depending on where your extension cable is coming from and going to, you might be able to tuck it under your siding. Use wedges to secure the cords. Tuck them under your siding or have it run along one of the laps of your siding. You can also try adhesive-backed cable holders that you can feed your extension cord through.
This solution is a longer-term solution. Don’t do this if you’re just using an outside extension cord for a one-off project. It looks really neat, takes a little effort to complete, and it works well.
Cord Cover Kits
At your local hardware store, you can find a whole slew of cord cover kits. These are channels that allow you to run your cable on the interior, and the exterior is a smooth and protected layer. You can typically choose between rubber, plastic, or metal covers.
You can use these kits for as long as your extension cords run. Most of the options are low-profile and reduce the ability to trip over the cables. They will also prevent animals from biting your wires, keep debris away, and waterproof the assembly. You just have to check to make sure the cover kit has a bottom to it, otherwise, you’ll have to lay down a waterproof material to keep the underside of your cables dry.
These kits work really well, they aren’t super expensive, and they can work for a range of different lengths.
Or, if it’s just the connection part of the extension cord that you want to cover, you can always use one of those types of covers, like the one below.
Use a Pool Noodle
Some people opt for using pool noodles if there’s a short length of cable that they need to protect outside. It is waterproof and clearly visible so no one will trip over loose cables. It doesn’t have the same curb appeal as other options, but it’s great for a quick and cheap solution.
You can either feed the cable through the inside of the pool noodle, or you can cut one of the sides along the length of the noodle. Use this section to open the noodle and pull it over the cable. Our tip would be to use a brightly colored one for higher visibility.