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Caravanfan's avatar

Removing broken garden lights?

Asked by Caravanfan (9234points) 5 days ago

I am dealing with an old house that has a bunch of non-working garden lights that have electrical wiring under the lawn. I want to pull the lights out, but I don’t want to pull the wiring out as it will mean tearing up the garden.

If I pull the lights out, there will be bare wires. There is no current going through them and it’s low voltage anyway, Should I just leave the wires there and bury them, or cap them with something? Any advice?

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21 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Are the wires in conduit or just in the ground?

When I worked in industrial construction, if you removed a piece of equipment you were required to remove electrical connections, water, steam and inert gases.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I would simply interrupt the circuit by disconnecting the wires at the switch or cutting the wires at the switch and capping the ends.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Unless you think you will ever use the wires for anything I would just leave them in the ground exposed to the vagaries of Mother Nature and let them corrode away.

If an only if they are a long length and good wire I might use them as a perimeter sensor of some kind or a power feed to something.
Would you ever want power out there for something else?
Being a creative and forward thinking guy, when my driveway was repaved about 6 years ago I buried an inductive loop underneath it for that purpose. The loops still sits there today, unconnected to anything.
I bought a driveway announcer for $12 at Harbor Freight that works great.

Caravanfan's avatar

There is no power to them as the circuit breaker is turned off They are corroding wires.

What kind of caps do you put at the switch

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Disconnect them from the circuit breaker box, you may want a licensed electrician to do that, you wouldn’t want someone (not you) to flip the power back on. and shock or kill someone.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Tropical_Willie That’s a good idea. What I don’t want to do is dig up the backyard just to take out the corroding wires. Some of the wires are going under concrete. It’s something like 30 years old.

stanleybmanly's avatar

If the lights have their own dedicated circuit in the breaker box, you have no problems. When you say the lights are “low voltage”, I would take that to mean there is a transformer somewhere between the circuit breaker and the lights, much as with the doorbell on most houses. You must know someone who can easily show you how to shut down the box and remove the breaker and free the wires from the terminals behind it. It won’t take even 5 minutes. When I said “switch” earlier, I assumed the lights branched from a circuit they shared with other outlets. It’s at the junction of such a branch where the switch would be found with the transformer usually closely attached. If this is the case, then it is at the switch rather than the breaker box, where you want to cut the power. Any handyman can do this, and you should watch as it is done. It’s very simple.

Caravanfan's avatar

@stanleybmanly Thanks! I’m going to talk to my gardener who is also a handyman on Wednesday about it.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Without knowing how extensive the installation is, my thought is pull the annoyances out.

I say this because I had a lawn with a leaking sprinkler system. I hunted and pecked for the problems, and fixed them, but in the end wished I had torn the whole thing up and started anew. It would have been quicker and simpler.

Your problem is different, in that you want to simply isolate an inert system. But in my mind, I picture running into random wires in the future and wasting time trying to figure out how to deal with them.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay The issue is that the wires run under the sod and under a concrete walkway. They would be a bitch to pull out. I’m just going to take out the old lights, but in solar lights and be done with it. My dad did this something like 20–30 years ago.

KRD's avatar

Try finding the wires on the lights and see if you can pull them out.

Caravanfan's avatar

Problem sort of fixed. We simply unplugged the lights and now there is no power. I’m going to pull the lights and just leave the wires and put in solar lights.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Can you utilize the existing wiring for the solar lights?

Caravanfan's avatar

@stanleybmanly Well, they’re solar, so they don’t need wiring.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Oh. I see. This isn’t about one large panel, but each individual fixture with its own collecter.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here’s sonething unexpected about solar lights. I have a small pond in my woods and put a few solar lights around it. The installation is a snap. You just push the spike into the ground. Quick and easy. Right? Well, every few days I I’d find a light or two on the ground. I’d fix it and forget about it for a couple of days. Then one would be missing! Or I’d find another knocked over, or I’d find one in the pond! WTH?!
I set up motion cameras and alarms so I could see who was doing it and respond accordingly. That cost waaaay more than the lights. It turned out to be a racoon family that was using my pond for drinking water and entertainment. They are curious creatures and were playing with the lights. Isn’t nature grand?
I had to add epoxy and cayenne pepper to my installation cost.

Caravanfan's avatar

@LuckyGuy Those whacky rackoons!

LuckyGuy's avatar

I put a motion sensing trail camera with deep IR flash (invisible) on a maple tree about 6” in diameter. I attached it with 750 pound test, camo colored, straps about 5 ft off the ground so it would have a nice view of the pond and catch the perp.
One of the many pictures it took was a blurry, extreme close-up, selfie of a raccoon!

Caravanfan's avatar

@LuckyGuy Make that picture your profile picture so we can see

LuckyGuy's avatar

Funny. I’ll see if I can dig it up.

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