Obstacles will often be in your way when installing wiring for landscape lighting. In this tutorial, the experts at VOLT® demonstrate how to run wire under a sidewalk or patio. It’s easy to do, and when your cable or sleeve is in place, you can maximize your lighting on a single low voltage transformer.
How to Run Wire Through a Sidewalk Joint
Step 1: Before digging under a sidewalk, see if there’s already a large gap in a control joint. This is often an ideal place to cross a sidewalk, if you can get the wire deep enough.
Step 2: Deepen and clean out the gap with an old screwdriver.
Step 3: Add a piece of spacer back in once your direct burial cable has been installed.
How to Run a Single Wire Under a Sidewalk
If you only need to run a single wire under a sidewalk, you’ll just need a long flexible drill bit.
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: With the bottom edge of the concrete exposed, slip the drill bit right underneath that edge. Put a little bit of flex in the bit; this will help keep the bit straight as it advances under the concrete. Keep your bit straight and level as it goes underneath the concrete, and it will come right out under the other side.
Step 3: 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 2 to 3 inches off that wire. With your cable end stripped off, insert the wire into the small hole in the end of the bit.
Step 4: Once the wire is securely attached, begin pulling it 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.
How to Run Multiple Wires Under a Sidewalk
If you need multiple cables to cross the sidewalk, use a piece of EMT conduit. This is a rigid metal conduit that you can pick up for pretty much any home improvement center.
Step 1: Measure out about a 6 inch overhang on each side of the sidewalk, and then cut the pipe with a Sawzall, hacksaw or even a grinder. Now pound down the ends to pinch them together. This prevents the pipe from filling with dirt as it passes under the sidewalk. It also makes a nice wedge, so it’s easy to drive.
Step 2: When driving the pipe under the sidewalk, it’s important to keep it level. To ensure this, remove the grass so the pipe will sit down below the bottom edge of the concrete. Using a spade, dig out a section of grass about 6 inches longer than the pipe itself. This will provide plenty of room for driving the pipe underneath the sidewalk with a sledgehammer.
Step 3: With a trenching shovel or a small spade, clean out the debris at the bottom of the trench. Now take the conduit with the pinched end and stick it under the bottom edge of the concrete. 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 provide enough force to push it through.
Step 4: Once the pipe has been driven through and is visible on the other side, take a Sawzall and cut off the end. Now simply slide the cable through the pipe and out the other side.
Step 5: With your cable in place, you can now put your sod back in the trench and compact it into place.