Waterproofing Electrical Connections

Outdoor Lighting

It is very frustrating to turn on your exterior lighting only to hear the circuit breaker trip while it remains dark outside. This can happen with security lighting circuits, pool circuits, patio circuits, or any other circuits exposed to the weather or any source of moisture. All too often these types of problems are caused by water entering an electrical connection associated with the circuit. This causes a short between the conductors or between a conductor and the ground. The repair of this problem requires finding the location of the faulty electrical connection and making it waterproof. This can be a very time-consuming and expensive job. Obviously, it is easier and cheaper to properly waterproof electrical connections during their initial installation if there is any chance of their exposure to moisture.

Methods Of Prevention

There are three basic methods of preventing water from entering an electrical connection. You can use a waterproof connector, coat, and tape a standard wire connector, or install the standard wire connectors in a waterproof container. Each method is acceptable depending on the particular situation. Waterproof electrical connectors are available for both high voltage and low voltage electrical circuits. They are similar to standard electrical connectors but have an added physical barrier to water and usually an additional silicone- or tar-based insulating compound. They are available in both crimp-on and compression styles. It is imperative to read the instructions carefully before using a waterproof electrical connector for the first time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to be assured of a waterproof electrical connection. Waterproof electrical connectors are usually more expensive than standard electrical connectors but have an ease of installation that makes them ideal for many applications. In certain instances, it is best to use a standard electrical connector and merely make it waterproof by taping and coating it. Standard black electrical tape does not guarantee a waterproof electrical connection. Even if many layers of tape are used, over time the tape will degrade and allow water to come into contact with the conductors. A waterproof electrical connection requires the use of rubber-based electrical tape. It is thicker than normal electrical tape and will not degrade as much over time. After applying the tape the entire connection is coated with a special tar- or silicone-based liquid. Both the tape and coating are readily available wherever electrical supplies are sold and are relatively inexpensive.

Water Proof Containers

Waterproof containers are also available. These come in several forms. Re-enterable metal or PVC boxes are made with sealing gaskets to prevent the intrusion of any water. Permanently sealed containers are filled with an insulating gel that prevents water damage to the circuit. These boxes can be costly but they allow the use of standard electrical connectors and are easy to install. Waterproof electrical connections are possible at any location where they are required. Make sure that power is turned off at the source and they can be installed safely by almost anyone. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and you will be rewarded with a quality waterproof electrical connection that will provide years of trouble-free service.