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Thread: Outdoor Fountain Pump Electrical Service

  1. #1
    DIY Member thebeave's Avatar
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    Default Outdoor Fountain Pump Electrical Service

    I'm thinking of putting in a simple garden fountain with a plug-in 120 VAC pump in my backyard. The current plan is for the fountain to be about 10 feet from the nearest outlet at the house. Its simple mulch and plants on the ground between the fountain and the house. Just wondering what the electrical code requirements are for this arrangement, as well as best practices. First of all, is it considered legal to just plug the pump in to the outlet at the house, leaving the pump cord out in the open? Does it matter if its plugged into an outdoor rated extension cord? Or buried as is a few inches deep? Obviously, an issue is that the cord could be severed with a shovel accidentally. Or is it best to just bite the bullet and install an outdoor GFCI outlet on a small 4x4 post right at the fountain and run PVC conduit (18" deep) with wiring direct to the house. I'm leaning towards the latter plan, but I am curious what the electrical code requirements are, if any, in this type of situation. Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    install an outdoor GFCI outlet on a small 4x4 post right at the fountain sounds good to me

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    DIY Senior Member Murphy625's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    install an outdoor GFCI outlet on a small 4x4 post right at the fountain sounds good to me
    Ya.. that..

    I might have had a different opinion if there wasn't a body of water involved.. but the post and gfci is the safest way to go.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Is the house outlet a GFCI, or protected by one, which it should be. If so then it will take care of any shovel cutting the cord, or other situations. Most fountain pumps have cords at least 10 long anyway so you may not need the extension cord.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    IOW, if the outlet you plan to connect to is a GFCI (which all outdoor ones should be), you can just plug it in. If you wish to extend that run, since it is already protected, you'd need to use cable rated for burial and an exterior rated box and cover.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member thebeave's Avatar
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    So, as long as it plugs into a GFCI, it sounds like I could go with either solution. I'm still curious, though, if the NEC has anything to say about this, if anything. For example, should the cord be buried or not...or does it matter? Is there a restriction on cord length or the use of extension cords? I'll still probably go with installing the 4x4 post and GFCI outlet at the fountain, but I am curious about the NEC's requirements on this.

  7. #7
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebeave View Post
    So, as long as it plugs into a GFCI, it sounds like I could go with either solution.
    From inside the house to the receptacle that supplies power to the fountain must have an insulated equipment grounding conductor so yes it needs to be piped in to a post at the fountain and the conductors to the receptacle be in the pipe. Those conductors on the inside of the house can have an un-insulated EGC.

    The fountain must be supplied from a GFCI device. Using an extension cord is totally out of the question for several reasons. Cords are not allowed in pipe and to leave it on the ground is asking for the grass to grow up around it until it will be hard to move.
    If a cord is used outside then the cord must be approved for the use and to buy one approved for the use will cost more than doing the project the right way.

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