Video | VOLT® University | Install landscape lighting wire under sidewalk

Summary: When installing wiring for landscape lighting, sidewalks or patios will often be in your way. This instructional video demonstrates simple ways to get underneath these obstacles.

Video Transcript:

Today we’re going to talk about how to get wiring underneath sidewalks. When you're in the course of installing wiring for lighting, you’re invariably going to run across situations where you have sidewalks or patios that are going to be in your way. The question is how do I get my wiring across it? You see behind us here we do have a sidewalk and we're going to show you a couple simple ways you can get your wiring underneath that. Let’s get started.

Before digging under your sidewalks, inspect your site and see if you already have a large gap in a control joint of your sidewalk. This is often an ideal place to cross if you can get the wire deep enough. Deepen and clean out the gap with an old screwdriver and add a piece of spacer back in once your cable has been installed.

Four-foot sidewalks like this one are pretty typical on most properties. The first crossing method I'll show you is using a long flexible drill bit. This is an easy method if you only need a single wire to cross the walk. To begin our crossing, we need to excavate a small opening on one side of the sidewalk. On the other side of the sidewalk, cut out a strip that's about 1 foot long by 4 to 5 inches wide. Remove the rock and soil until you can clearly see the bottom edge of the sidewalk. With the bottom edge of the concrete exposed, slip your drill bit right underneath that edge and put a little bit of flex in the bit. This will help keep the bit straight as it advances underneath the concrete. If you kept your bit straight and level coming underneath the concrete, it will come right out underneath the other side. These long bits have a small hole in the end of the tip that are designed for pulling your wire back through.

To attach your wire, clip one end of your wire lead off and strip the other end. Be sure to strip at least a good 2 to 3 inches off that wire. With your cable end stripped off, now insert the wire into the small hole in the end of the bit. Once it’s securely attached now you can begin pulling the wire back through. You may have to use a back-and-forth motion with the drill to get it to come back from underneath the concrete. Again this is a simple and easy way to get underneath the sidewalk if you only need to use one cable.

Should you find that you need multiple cables to cross the sidewalk, I recommend using a piece of EMT conduit. This is a metal rigid conduit you can pick up for pretty much any home improvement center. I like to measure out about a 6 inch overhang on each side and then go ahead and cut my pipe with either a Sawzall, hacksaw or even a grinder. To keep the pipe from filling up with dirt when we pass it underneath the sidewalk, we’re first going to need to pound down the ends to flatten it out. This will pinch the ends together to keep the dirt out as you pass it under the walk. It will also make a nice wedge, so it's easy to drive. When we drive our pipe under the walk, it's important to make sure that we keep it level.

To keep the pipe level as we drive it across, we have to remove the grass so the pipe will sit down below the bottom edge of the concrete. Make room for the pipe by taking your spade and begin digging out a section of grass just about 6 inches longer than the pipe itself. This will give us plenty of room for driving the pipe underneath the walk with our hammer. Take a trenching shovel or a small spade and clean out the debris at the bottom of the trench. Now take your conduit with the pinched end and begin to stick it under the bottom edge of the concrete. You're going to want to make sure that the pipe sits level down in this trench and is parallel with the top of the concrete. A small to medium-size sledgehammer will give you enough force to push it through.

Once you driven the pipe through and is visible on the other side, take your Sawzall and cut the end of that pipe off. Getting your cable underneath this walkway is now just a simple as sliding the end of the cable all the way through the pipe and out the other side. With your cable in place, you can now put your sod back in the trench and compact it into place.

Getting your cable under walkways doesn't have to be an overwhelming challenge. Once your cable or sleeve is in place, it will allow you to maximize your lighting on a single transformer. We hope that this tutorial was a help to you. If you have any further questions, please give us a call at (813) 978-3700.