DON’T DO THIS: run a coaxial cable through a swimming pool?

If there ever was a clearer case of “don’t try this at home…”

I was recently asked if it was ok to run a coaxial cable through a swimming pool. Apparently, this guy wanted to have DIRECTV programming out on the other side of his large backyard, too far for a wireless signal from his Genie 2. The easiest way, he figured, was a straight line. This straight line, apparently, went straight through the pool.

Does it seem like you should do this?

Coaxial cable is designed to be water-resistant, for sure. The rubber outer jacket should stop water from coming in. Coax cables work in the rain. They work in the snow. Burial-grade RG6 even works in the dirt. But does it work in a pool?

Actually it does, at least for short periods, I’m just not saying you should do it.

Is electrocution a problem?

Of all the reasons you shouldn’t run coax cable through the pool, electrocution isn’t really the biggest consideration. In most cases the cable will carry maybe 21 volts max, and that’s not enough to electrocute anyone in a pool. Again, the rubber sheath should stop that electricity from going into the water anyway.

So why should you not do this?

Well first of all it’s just not a smart idea to run any wire through a pool. It’s not designed for it. The chlorine in the water could eat through the cable eventually, and unless you secure it really well, what’s going to happen is that someone will yank on it, pulling your receiver and TV into the pool. When that happens, no one wins.

But, here’s the thing I found a bit surprising when I tested this (as safely as I could.) It floats. I guess I should have expected it, given that the white dielectric is full of air. But yeah it floats. What’s worse is that it doesn’t really float on the surface. It’s too heavy for that. It sort of sits there about five feet down which is really, really unsafe. I’m just saying, do not do this, it’s just a recipe for disaster.

What’s a better option?

If you need to get coaxial cable out to the back patio and you have a Genie DVR, the best thing to do is run cable out to a covered patio and connect it to a wireless video bridge. From there you can run a wireless Genie client about 50 feet which is going to cover you unless you’re incredibly rich. This works even if you have a Genie 2 which has its own video bridge. The client will just connect to the bridge which has a stronger signal.