The Complete Guide to Covering Exposed Cable Wires Outside

Have you ever tripped over an exposed cable outside your home? It’s not just a tripping hazard; it’s a serious safety risk. Covering exposed cables is important for more than just looks—they pose real threats like electrical shocks, potential fires, and expensive repairs if left unaddressed. 

Beyond the immediate physical dangers, these exposed wires can also become an entry point for pests and insects, which can cause further damage to your electrical systems. Moreover, in weather-prone areas, the risk of water ingress leading to short circuits and power failures increases dramatically if cables are not properly protected. Learn how to safely cover these hazards before they lead to disaster.

Understanding the Risks

Safety Hazards 

Exposed outdoor cables can lead to severe safety hazards, affecting everyone in their vicinity. Frayed wires, often resulting from wear and tear or environmental exposure, can cause electrical shorts that might ignite fires, endangering both property and lives. Furthermore, children and pets, curious by nature, may suffer from electric shocks if they tamper with these exposed wires, transforming an ordinary garden into a perilous area. The risks extend beyond just immediate physical injuries:

  • Tripping and Falling: Loose cables can easily become tripping hazards, especially in dimly lit areas, leading to falls and related injuries.
  • Damage to Equipment: Exposed cables can also short circuit and cause damage to connected appliances and possibly lead to costly repairs or replacements.
  • Legal Liability: If a visitor or a passerby gets injured due to exposed wiring on your property, you may be held liable for their injuries.

Addressing these issues promptly can prevent accidents and ensure that your outdoor spaces remain safe for everyone.

Weather Concerns 

Each element poses a specific threat to exposed cables—rain can lead to corrosion, sunlight can make cables brittle, and cold temperatures might cause the insulation to crack. These weather-induced damages not only shorten the lifespan of your cables but also increase the risk of malfunctions. Additionally, strong winds and storms can physically displace or damage cables, exposing them to further environmental hazards and potential electrical failures. Prolonged exposure to these conditions without proper maintenance can escalate into safety hazards, requiring more frequent inspections and potentially costly repairs to ensure continued reliability and performance.

Assessing Your Needs

Identifying Cable Types 

It’s essential to recognise the type of cables you’re dealing with, as each type may require a different method of protection based on its specific vulnerabilities and the consequences of damage. Use visuals to distinguish between power, telecommunications, and other utility cables. Knowing the exact type helps in choosing the right protection method and ensures that you are not only complying with legal safety standards but also optimising the longevity and functionality of your cable setup. Effective identification and subsequent protection can prevent issues like data loss, electrical fires, and service interruptions. Here are some key points to consider when identifying your cables:

  • Power Cables: Typically thicker and heavily insulated, these are used to transmit electricity. Look for cables connected to power sources or electrical boxes.
  • Telecommunications Cables: These include phone lines and fibre optic cables, which are often thinner and less robust than power cables.
  • Coaxial Cables: Used for cable television and internet services, these are distinguished by their single copper conductor and plastic insulation surrounded by a metallic shield.
  • Cable Color Codes: Many cables follow colour coding standards that indicate their purpose, which can be a quick visual guide to determining their type.

Understanding these differences is crucial for applying the correct protective measures, such as choosing suitable conduit types or coverings that adequately shield the cables from environmental and mechanical threats.

Evaluating the Environment 

Consider environmental factors with a handy checklist to ensure your cables are protected under all conditions: Are the cables exposed to direct sunlight? Is there a risk of mechanical damage? Are chemicals present that could corrode the cables? 

Additionally, evaluate whether the cables are located in an area prone to flooding or excessive moisture, which can significantly accelerate the degradation process. Also, check for potential pest problems, such as rodents that might chew through cable insulation, leading to further complications and safety hazards.

Compliance and Regulations 

Ensure you adhere to local codes. Use online resources to access your region’s electrical regulations to avoid legal issues and ensure safe installations. Compliance with these regulations not only protects you legally but also ensures that all electrical installations meet safety standards, reducing the risk of electrical fires, shocks, and other hazards. Familiarise yourself with specific requirements such as depth for buried cables or types of conduits allowed, as these can vary significantly between different areas and can impact both the methodology and materials used for your project. Checking with a local building inspector or a licensed electrician can also provide clarity and assurance that your cable protection efforts are up to code.

workers outside looking at exposed cable wires
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels

Exploring Covering Options

  • Conduit Systems: Conduits protect cables efficiently and come in various types, such as PVC, metal, and flexible conduits. 
  • Cable Covers and Guards: For areas with foot traffic, robust cable covers and protective guards are ideal.
  • Underground Solutions: Burying cables is an excellent long-term solution but often requires professional installation. 

Installation Tips

Preparation Steps 

Safety first—turn off any power before handling exposed wires and wear appropriate protective gear. Accurately measure the length of conduit or covers needed before purchasing.

Maintenance Advice 

Establish a routine maintenance schedule. Annual inspections help identify any signs of wear or damage, ensuring ongoing safety and functionality.

Advanced Solutions and Plasgain’s Contributions

Plasslab: The Future of Underground Cable Protection

Plasgain is revolutionising the way we think about protecting underground cables with their innovative Plasslab underground cable cover slabs. Made entirely from 100% recycled materials, these cover slabs represent a significant advancement in environmental sustainability within the electrical cable protection market.

  • Eco-Friendly Manufacturing: Made from 100% recycled materials at Plasgain’s facility in Victoria, reducing environmental impact.
  • Supporting Local Industries: Australian-made, supporting local jobs and manufacturing sectors.
  • Certified and Reliable: Approved by all Victorian electrical authorities and used extensively across various regions.

Covering exposed outdoor cables is not merely about enhancing aesthetic appeal but is crucial for ensuring safety, preventing costly damages, and extending the operational lifespan of cable infrastructure. By choosing sustainable solutions like Plasgain’s Plasslab, not only do you safeguard your electrical systems, but you also contribute to environmental conservation and support the local economy. Act now to upgrade your cable protection systems and secure a safer, more efficient power network for your home or business.