View Full Version : Shouldn't lighting wires be buried?

03-20-2006, 12:12 AM
Hello there

I don't work with lighting installs, I mostly do lawncare, maintenance, and light landscaping. Anyway, I was doing a mulch job last week in beds with lighting and I noticed that one of wires for the lights had been severed. I don't know if I did it with the hard rake while spreading, but I thought that it must have been broken already. Anyway, I get an email from the customer telling me I did it when mulching. He's a good guy and wasn't on my case and I offered to go by and try to patch it myself if I can. My question is this: Shouldn't that wire have been underground, and for that matter underground in some conduit? The lighting was installed by a large landscaping Co. and not the homeowner. Just want to know if I am truly at fault for the damage for simply raking mulch in a bed.
Thanks in advance

03-20-2006, 01:45 AM
it doesnt need to be in conduit if its in a bed but it should of been buried at least 6 in deep. If you guys raked back alot of mulch you could of hit it. I couldnt see cutting the wire with a rake unless you were chopping at the ground with it.

Whatever you do dont just tape it up and bury it. Fix it properly with gel filled nuts and maybe some resin packets. See your local electrical supply house they should be able to help you out.

I would note if the wire looks like a fresh cut or if its corroded or something.

Should of been at least 6in deep tho, We go for more than that and will try our best to keep wires near foundation to prevent situations like these.

hope this is accurate and helps.

03-20-2006, 09:30 AM
I really don't think you cut the wire with a rake. That would have to be a VERY sharp rake to do that. I would check to see if the lighting system is still under warranty before making any repairs. With my system, I inform the client that if ANYONE works on the system besides me or one of my employees, the warranty is void. The line should have been buried. I have had clients request that the line not be buried so they know where they are for planting purposes. I usually will accommodate the client in this regard. If you make the repair, please make sure to maintain polarity as the installer may have that run on a "loop" configuration and if you cross polarity you will short out the circuit. Make a good connection and seal it.
Good luck.

03-20-2006, 12:10 PM
Another reason why the loop method is problematic, a cut wire could easily be reconnected improperly, shorting the circuit.

03-20-2006, 06:56 PM
Another reason why the loop method is problematic, a cut wire could easily be reconnected improperly, shorting the circuit.

Just another reason why only the installer should be working on that system.

03-20-2006, 06:59 PM
Easy to connect w/out crossing....one side is stamped w/ writing...other isn't....by stamped I don't mean color stamped.....someone help me out with how to put that....

You will easily be able to see the difference if you look at both sides of the wire insulation.

03-20-2006, 11:20 PM
the writing is imprinted on one.... right?

03-21-2006, 02:20 AM
I went by there today and no wiring was imprinted. I could tell no difference between the the leads coming from the light, or those from the main wire. I connected them anyway and warned the customer that I wasn't an electrician and that it may be better to waitbefore turning them on, disconnect, and call the installers andaskthem to come out. I assumed that it would be covered under some warranty as the wire wasn't buried under anything but 2- inches of mulch. I pulled it up and it was lying on the plant bed. Anyway he said he couldn't remember the CO. ?? that installed them, and that he did in fact turn them on, and now the light next to it doesn't work either.

Should I be responsibe for this? All I did was spread some mulch with a yard rake. The client is a good one, reasonable, and I am willing to do my part, as I offered to go over once more and check the next connection. I don't think this is my fault. What do you'll think? I know as installers you would rather not have inexperienced people trying to remedy problems, but I did give the customer some warning, and all he had to do was undo the simple connection I made.... Anyway any help here would be nice.

PS thanks for those who have responded

03-21-2006, 09:37 AM
when you go back take a second look.... sometimes the writing takes a break for a few inches... could be further back

03-21-2006, 10:31 AM
also look inside the transformer and make sure you didnt blow a breaker. Use a volt meter to check your polarity if you cant find any markings on the wires. I really dont think you should be responsible for this since the wire depth did not conform to code.

He couldnt rememeber the company? Are these high quality lights ? I am having stickers printed to put on all my transformers with our company name logo and number. This way if the house is sold and the new owners need anything there wont be a question of who services the system.

03-21-2006, 04:47 PM
Apparently the lighting co. was subbed under another landscaping Co. that did the beds and plantings, with which he has had some problems. He said he is not in good relations w/ the landscape Co. for whatever reason so tracking down the lighting guys is not going to happen. That's his problem...I went back today and apparently the connection between the original problem light and the next in line came undone. I capped it and taped it up well and we'll see what happens. I think I have done my part. I've been upfront, and have made two trips to remedy the problem. I don't think this will get to out of hand, he's a good client I'd like to keep happy, but I don't like bending over backwards when I don't think I'm in the wrong...

03-21-2006, 11:15 PM
I don't think this is your resposibility. There could be a number of problems with this system. If you would like, I could refer someone in your area to service the system. Maybe if you give your client a good lighting technician all will be good. Let me know.

03-21-2006, 11:55 PM
just capping and taping em up is not a proper repair. Granted its not your problem I would still find a quality technician in the area...Any idea what kind of system or brand it is ?

if so go to thier website and see if there is an installer in the area. If you just did a temp repair who do you think he is going to call when it needs fixing again. I would consider..

Temp repair and flag your repairs
Contact qualified technician
Let customer deal with the technician
You do beds and other maint work you want to do.

03-22-2006, 01:14 AM
No idea about the brand. I could probably find out next visit. And also thanks again for all the responses. As I said earlier, I went over again today and the lights are back working. I realize a cap and tape is a temp fix but I wanted to see if that was the bad connection. What would be the proper way to fix it? I'm at the property once a week and am pretty handy. Now that I know I have a good connection I could probably do the job right assuming it's not that technical. Then again maybe I should stay away!!!!

03-22-2006, 09:00 AM
if you got a lighting place near you or a JD landscapes they will be able to set you up with the proper splice materials rated for direct burial.

Gel filled wirenuts and or resin packs w zip ties.

Rememeber if you fix it your going to be the one he calls when its messed up again. If you can take a pic or 2 that would help as well. If the wire is that exposed you could probably replace it as well if its not that long of a run.

03-22-2006, 09:28 AM
If you have any more problems try these guys. They are right there in the area.
Loran Schnaidt
Lighting Expressions, LLC
10744 Forest Path
St. Louis , MO 63128
Phone: (314) 729-1422
FAX: (314) 842-1323
E-Mail: loransch@msn.com

03-22-2006, 11:39 AM
Thanks nightscapepaul!