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Running an extension cord under carpet

Posted by chiefneil (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 10, 07 at 17:00

I'm in the midst of putting together a home office, which will have a free-standing desk a few feet away from the wall. I'm thinking about running an extension cord for power under the carpet (and having the end come up under the desk), along with cable for phone and ethernet. I'm on a slab so I don't have a subfloor to go under. The extension cord is for a computer, monitor, printer, and phone.

Is this a really bad idea, or not a big deal? Is there some sort of low-profile pipe/conduit I should use? I'm not concerned about code compliance as such, just safety and a clean look.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

Very bad idea. Code compliance is all about safety. You should be concerned about it. The big box stores sell protection for on floor wiring. Wiremold makes it. Here's your link:
http://www.wiremold.com/www/consumer/products/corduct/index.asp


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

As bigbird said, bad idea. Part of the 'why' is because if the cord is damaged by something being moved or rolled over the top or kinked, you won't see it, but the damage (and added insulation of the carpet and pad) can cause it to overheat and start a fire.

If you can't run a wire in the wall or under the floor, they do make surface mount wiring. But that doesn't make for a very clean look, IMO. Using a floor protector (above the carpet) can look fairly clean if you can get a color similar to the carpet.

One additional thought: you generally don't want to put electrical wires next to data or audio cables because of potential interference. Some things are more sensitive than others (I do audio stuff at church, which is where I know about it from), but it's best to keep electrical and data separate.


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

Bummer, but thanks for the advice guys. I guess I'll do a wiremold cover like bigbird linked to.


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

I'm surprised anyone asked about this. It's one of the basics of electrical safety that you don't run extension cords under carpets.

I learned that in grade school. Seriously. This is a pretty basic life skill. Don't science books (and teachers) teach such matters any more?


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

Nope, I must have played hookey that day. It's hard for me to envision how a cord could get damaged through thick carpet and pad in a non-traffic area, but I'm not going to risk it if it's an outrageously unsafe thing to do.


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

I had an interior designer from a major furniture retailer who actually wrote in her plan and diagram to run extension cords under the carpet! I was shocked! Who knows how many other people she suggested this risky scheme to?! I told her of the dangers but she didnt really seam to grasp the severity of the matter.


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

The concern is twofold.

First, the cable can be abraded by foot traffic and furniture. It may be located where there's no traffic now, but you may forget that it's there later, as you move furniture around.

Second, should any damage occur, it won't be visible. Cables can deteriorate even without any mechanical wear.

The main problem is "out of sight, out of mind." It's not precisely the same, but a friend of mine was affected by a fire in the house he was renting. It was caused by deterioration of a long-forgotten, never-inspected heat cable wrapped round water pipes in the attic. Fortunately my friend was out of town that weekend, so he wasn't in any danger. However, he lost some irreplaceable items that he'd stored in the room under the cables. (The ceiling fell on them and there was fire, smoke, and water damage.)


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

It would likely be OK for you if it's out of the way, but it only takes forgetting about it once to roll a desk across it or whatever and damage the cable. Or the next owner coming along and not realizing the issue. As davidr said, "out of sight, out of mind", comes in to play. You'll roll a desk or move a bookcase, and it'll be fine for a while, maybe a long while. Then plug in a TV or a space heater or something, forgetting the cord runs under the carpet, and not realizing it was damaged, and... But even if it would likely be fine for you, "likely be OK" isn't 100%, so it's not worth the risk, IMO.

rtsquote writes:

I had an interior designer from a major furniture retailer who actually wrote in her plan and diagram to run extension cords under the carpet!
I think I met her brother :-) I was looking for a ground plug adapter (not ideal, but provides a ground if the center screw is grounded which it was) to plug in an extension cord at my relative's place for some work I was doing. The guy at the hardware store suggested I "just break off the ground prong" from the plug :eek:


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

It does boggle the mind. I rented a place with a cord under the carpet that then ran to another outlet...up through the masonry and everything so it was a sort of 'professional' job, and let me tell you, until I spotted that cord (and even after) it had a pretty hard life. People walked on it, furniture crushed it, you name it. It was far from protected, but certainly 'insulated' if it overheated, but not insulated in a way you'd want!

A guy I worked for had a door buzzer on the office door, and it was powered by speaker wire running between the carpet and the wall, jammed in there. That in itself might have been ok, even the electrical tape splices might have been ok, but in spots he thought it'd be really *neat* to run the wire along the nail/spike strip, you know, the wooden strips with the nasty spikes that hold carpet down at the edge? Naturally, spikes had penetrated the wire in places (240v) so some of those spikes were, I guess live. I was appalled.

Later on, I discovered the wiring in many of the desks (desks had wired in outlets and light boxes that ran to plugs and outlets) had single insulated wiring or even exposed push-on terminals and exposed terminals on some of the fluoro ballasts, I discovered by accident reaching under and feeling these terminals...

I persuaded the boss it would be in his and Workcover's best interest to get a sparky in to fix things. SParky was appalled, boss just left it to me to show him the danger spots since he didn't seem to understand at all how dangerous the situation was.

Sparky suggested an RCD (GFCI) one of the ones that protects all the circuits, I was adamant we should have one, and, ironically, it saved the life (probably) of that same boss who, in his wisdom later 'demoted me' - ended up tripping the GFCI twice, once (I kid you not) putting a knife in a live toaster, the second time, adjusting a thermostat in an electrically heated splicer, that was still turned on.

Guy almost Darwin Awarded himself twice later on with motorcycles, the second time he pretty much julienned himself hitting one of those steel cable guard rails....was lucky to survive, was triple lucky to retain his limbs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Darwin Awards


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

A guy I worked for had a door buzzer on the office door, and it was powered by speaker wire ... spikes had penetrated the wire in places (240v) ...

Wait. You had a door buzzer operating on 240 volts???


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RE: Running an extension cord under carpet

Wait. You had a door buzzer operating on 240 volts???
Sure, you get a much better 'buzz' that way :-)


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