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What Is Waterproof Wire?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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Waterproof wire is wire that is designed to resist water intrusion. It may be labeled as water resistant or water repellent, depending on the manufacturer and its quality. There are some settings in which this type of wire is strongly recommended and sometimes actually required. However, it is important to note that different types of wiring are designed for burial and underwater applications. Unless a waterproof wire product specifically states that it can be used in these settings, it may not for these particular applications.

Water intrusion is an issue for wiring for a number of reasons. One obvious reason is that it can cause shorts which may damage the circuit or impair functionality. Shorts can also present a safety risk. In addition, water often carries salts which can have a corrosive effect, eroding the wire and its casing over time and presenting other safety and operational issues. Waterproof wire is designed to limit these problems by preventing water from reaching energized wiring.

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Classically, wire is waterproofed by wrapping it in materials beyond the basic insulation used with all wiring. These materials are waterproofed and create a vapor barrier so that condensation cannot develop on the inside of the wrapping. When used with waterproof wire connectors, the wire can remain sealed so that water cannot intrude. It can be used in settings like bathrooms and kitchens where water intrusion may be a concern, and for outdoor wiring tasks such as porch lamps. In these settings, using waterproof wire is a safety measure so that in the event that water does get into the area with electrical wiring, it will be less likely to pose a risk.

For outdoor wiring locations such as setting up temporary lighting for a performance or seasonal display, using waterproof wire is critical. If the wiring is being left up for an extended period of time, even in the supposedly dry season, moisture can start to penetrate and cause problems. Waterproof wire and electrical cable for such applications is available from many stores which stock electrical supplies and related equipment.

For underground or underwater wiring, some additional insulation may be needed and a specialty cable or wire product may be necessary. People who are not sure about what kind of wire to use for a given application should ask for assistance or consider hiring an electrician for the installation to confirm that it is done properly and safely.

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titans62
Post 4

@jcraig - You are completely right with that assumption. I understand how at first it makes sense that in order to waterproof a wire one simply has to put more rubber on it, however, this is not the way to go about water proofing something that allows electricity to pass through something it should not.

The way to properly waterproof a wire is to use the appropriate rubber, so that it does not fray over time and to also make sure that it is tightly secured so that absolutely no moisture is able to pass through. By doing so you make sure that the wire will not short if it happens to be in a damp place.

For heavy, underwater wires it makes sense to use a stronger type of rubber, but to also wrap more rubber around the wire to be sure that a problem does not occur. With wires that are underwater all the time it makes sense to wrap more rubber around, keeping in mind that it has to be wrapped tight to prevent moisture and condensation from getting in.

jcraig
Post 2

@matthewc23 - That does make sense, however, there is a little more to it than that. The wires that are wrapped have to be wrapped in such a way that they are not too bulky and also not be too heavy that they will hang and possible be a hindrance to its job. This is why the wires are usually made with a rubber or non-conductive material that is a little stronger and will not fray.

Also, the wire has to be made in such a way that no moisture whatsoever will get into the wire and cause a short or failure. There is a little more that goes into a waterproof wire than simply wrapping it in more rubber. It will always be a stronger rubber or non-conductive material than a normal wire, so it can either withstand being submerged underwater or simply allow basic splashes of water to be thrown on it without a short occurring.

matthewc23
Post 1

I have always thought that the way to waterproof a wire was to simply wrap it very thickly in a non-conductive material, such as rubber. Normal wires are barely wrapped in wire and I have always assumed that waterproof wires were just wrapped in the non-conductive material more than the normal, market brand, wires.

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