How to Run Wire Under Sidewalk (2-Method Guide)

In this guide, we’ll be going through how to run wiring under the sidewalk.

As an electrician, we commonly get requests to wire under the sidewalk for landscape lighting and other installs. The last time I was called in to fix a job that was done incorrectly and led to big costs for the homeowner for drilling, that’s why today I am going to teach you how to do it right.

In general, you can run electrical wiring under a wide sidewalk for landscape lighting by using these steps:

  • Shove a hole on the sides of the sidewalk by 1-foot by 4- to 5-inch-wide.
  • Drill a tunnel for the wires to run through using a drill bit.
  • After creating the tunnel, hook the wire to the drill bit, and pull.
  • Lastly, install the wiring.

If you have the tools you need, you can do this by following my guide below.

2 Methods on How to Run Wire Under Sidewalk 

Running electrical wiring under a wide sidewalk is simple. Once your cable is in place, you can install your lighting on a single low voltage transformer. Here are the two methods you could follow: 

Method 1: Flexible Drill Bit 

A long flexible drill bit would suffice if you only need to run a single wire beneath a sidewalk. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Make a small hole using a shovel on one side of the sidewalk. Then, cut a 1-foot by 4- to 5-inch-wide section from the opposite side of the walkway. Remove the soil and rock until you see the concrete’s bottom edge.

making a small hole using a shovel on one side of the sidewalk
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 2: Slip the drill bit directly underneath the exposed bottom edge of the concrete. Then, drill slowly to create a hole beneath the sidewalk.

slipping the drill underneath the exposed bottom edge
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 3: Give the drill bit a tiny bit of flex. It will maintain the bit straight as it moves forward beneath the concrete. That way, you can ensure a smooth exit under the other side of the concrete as it passes beneath the sidewalk’s concrete. Take your time and drill steadily and slowly.

Step 4: After the drill bit passes through the opposite side, hook your wire to it.

You can do this by using the tiny hole at the drill bit’s tip. It is intended to allow you to pull your wire back through. Before attaching the wire, clip one end of the wire lead off and strip the other end. Ensure the wire is cut off by at least 2 to 3 inches.

Then, with the wire’s end stripped off, insert and tie it into the tiny hole at the end of the drill bit.

insert and tie it into the tiny hole at the end of the drill bit
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 5: Once the wire is firmly fastened, start pulling it back through.

The drill might need to be moved back and forth to emerge from beneath the concrete.

wire your landscape lighting to the transformer
Video | VOLT Lighting

After that, run your wiring under the soil until it reaches the transformer.

Then, wire your landscape lighting to the transformer.

Method 2: Conduit Metal Pipe 

To get across the sidewalk with your cables, use an EMT conduit/ metal pipe. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Measure a metal pipe about 12 inches longer than your sidewalk (6 inches overhang on each sidewalk’s side). Then, cut it using a Sawzall, hacksaw, or grinder. 

measure a metal pipe
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 2: It’s critical to keep the pipe level as you drive it under the sidewalk.

So, to maintain its level, dig a trench the same length as the pipe parallel to the sidewalk.

Remove the grass, so the pipe sits below the concrete’s bottom edge.

Then, dig an extra 6 inches to give you plenty of areas to sledgehammer the pipe beneath the sidewalk.

sledgehammer the pipe beneath the sidewalk
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 3: After digging the trench, use your hammer and flatten the pipe’s side you’ll be boring. That way, you can form a good wedge making it much easier to drive through the dirt. Also, it prevents the soil from filling the pipe and clogging it as it runs beneath the sidewalk.

use your hammer and flatten the pipe’s side you'll be boring
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 4: Insert the conduit pipe with the pinched end beneath the concrete’s bottom border. Ensure the pipe is level in the trench and parallel to the top of the concrete.

Step 5: Using a sledgehammer, tap it gently from the other side to gradually push it through.

using a sledgehammer tap
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 6: When the pipe is through and visible on the opposite side, take a Sawzall and cut off the flattened end to leave a nice open pipe through which you can feed the wire.

take a sawzall and cut off the flattened end
Video | VOLT Lighting

Step 7: Slide the wire through the pipe. After that, you can place the sod back in the trench and compact it.

place the sod back in the trench and compact it
Video | VOLT Lighting

You can also choose to use a PVC pipe instead of a metal pipe.

However, I don’t recommend it because you can’t flatten its end as it would break. So, that means you’ll be dealing with the soil that would fill up the PVC pipe as you push it underneath the sidewalk. (1)

Then, you can remove the dirt by pushing a sidewalk sleever or rod into the pipe. It’s additional work and material to purchase, like the sidewalk sleever. (2)

Take a look at some of our related articles below.




References
(1) soil – https://www.masterclass.com/articles/soil-types
(2) purchase – https://www.jotform.com/blog/types-of-purchase-order/

Video Reference

About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gI realized early on carpentry was a huge passion for me and I’ve stayed in the industry for over 20 years now. This gives me a unique ability to really be able to tell you what the best tools and recommendations are. I’m not only a carpenter but I also like machinery and anything to do with electrics. One of my career paths starting off was as an apprentice electrician so I also have a lot of experience with electrical products and anything related.