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When To Use Conduit For Electrical Wiring (We Have The Answer!)
Electricity is everywhere in our lives. It powers our lights, our workplaces, and our world. So that means that we should all be very familiar with all things electricity, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, as useful and as necessary as electricity in our lives, most of us only have a novice understanding of electricity at best. And that means if you are working with electrical wiring, it is good to know some ground rules (pun intended), like when to use conduit for electrical wiring.
The reason why and when to use conduit for electrical wiring is whenever wires are going to be exposed or buried. Exposed wires need protection from elements like moisture, and people need protection from the risk of getting shocked. Knowing how to safely handle, install, and protect electrical wires is important, and in many cases, hiring an electrician is the smartest and safest choice.
Many jobs around the home, however, will only require the most basic electrical wiring skills. The key to doing any job, of course, relies on knowing what needs to be done and how to do it. That includes knowing when to use conduit for electrical wiring.
Table of Contents
- Warning: Danger Ahead Use Conduit
- When to Use Conduit for Electrical Wiring
- Why Conduit is Used for Electrical Wiring
- So Many Conduits So Little Time
- Metallic Tubing Options
- Flexible Metal Tubing Options
- Rigid Metal Tubing Options
- Installing and Using Conduit
- Related Questions
Warning: Danger Ahead Use Conduit
There are different kinds of conduit used for many different purposes. And from small jobs to big jobs knowing how to safely and properly install electrical wiring is a big deal. Reports estimate that there are more than 50,000 electrical fires every year.
If you are thinking about installing electrical wiring or making repairs, be careful, be smart, and know what you are doing. Here is a look a when and why to use conduit, how to use conduit, and what you need to know.
When to Use Conduit for Electrical Wiring
The protective material, which is either some form of plastic or metal tubing, that protects electrical wires is called conduit. Conduit is one of the first steps of installing any electrical wiring. So that means if you are doing a new installation, then it might be wise to start at the beginning. That means laying the conduit and running it to any power or connection boxes before running any electrical wiring.
Not every electrical wiring job or installation requires conduit. That means it is important to know when a conduit is necessary and needed, and when it isn’t. Understanding why a conduit is used will also make it easier to know when to use conduit for electrical wiring, and what kind.
Why Conduit is Used for Electrical Wiring
The entire purpose of the conduit is to protect the electrical wiring. Everyone is aware of the power and potential of electricity, but we often forget just how frail (and dangerous) electric wiring can be. In fact, electrical wiring is susceptible to a number of risks. These threats can damage or ruin wiring, and create potentially dangerous situations.
Damp and moist conditions, weather, cold, extreme heat, and a variety of other conditions can harm electrical wiring. In most cases, wiring found inside the walls of homes, or in ceilings for example, won’t require conduit. These are generally locations that are protected from elements and other risks.
Electrical wiring that is exposed though, is wiring that is at a greater risk for damage, wear, and other threats. In many circumstances too, wiring that isn’t exposed may also need conduit. That is the case with electrical wiring that is buried or perhaps located in a sealed but damper area of the home.
Basements and garages may be good examples of places where moisture and weather conditions may have a greater impact. These are also situations that might benefit from the use of a conduit.
So Many Conduits So Little Time
Electrical wire can be run virtually anywhere, and that includes floors, ceilings, walls, and even underground. In fact, for many reasons today, electrical wire is often laid underground. So it may not be surprising to learn that depending on where the electrical wiring is being installed will determine the type of conduit needed.
Using the right conduit will not only protect the wiring but will also ensure that the conduit will hold up under the conditions. Here are the several different types of conduit used and the reasons for using each type.
Metallic Tubing Options
The most commonly used type of conduit is electrical metallic tubing. Known as EMT in the industry, this type of conduit provides many advantages. EMT conduit also comes in a variety of sizes, from the standard household application 1/2 inch diameter to larger sizes for industrial use to smaller diameters for specialized applications.
EMT conduit is popular because it is one of the most pliable and versatile of all the metal conduits. EMT is also lightweight and is an ideal choice for may home applications and needs. EMT is most often used in places such as a garage or basement.
Flexible Metal Tubing Options
While EMT is considered very workable and flexible, it should not be confused with flexible metal tubing options (FMC). FMC has a ribbed type of look and is highly flexible. This type of conduit is most often used in situations where there are above-ground exposed wires.
This type of tubing should be supported approximately every four feet, and sometimes is referred to as Greenfield tubing. Although this tubing isn’t ideal for many situations it is popular for uses such as furnace connections and garbage disposal hookups. It is worth noting here that FMC conduit should never be used in wet or high moisture areas.
Rigid Metal Tubing Options
When heavy-duty and more protective conduit options are required, rigid metal tubing (RMC) is used. In some situations, intermediate metal tubing (IMC) may suffice. These are both conduit options designed to provide the best possible protection against elements and dangers.
Primarily used in outdoor settings and in industrial environments, RMC conduit options offer reliable and time-tested proof. This type of conduit is typically used by utility companies and services. The power wires running into your home connected to a power pole outside are most likely using an RMC conduit.
Installing and Using Conduit
Each type of conduit has certain attributes and benefits, but most of the basic guidelines for installing conduits remain the same. Here are the basic guidelines when working with and installing the conduit for electrical wiring.
Step 1: Choosing the right conduit
What type of conduit is needed for the job? Picking the right conduit for the job will not only make for a more successful installation but an easier one too.
Step 2: Laying the conduit
Even when electrical wiring is protected by conduit, it should never be hanging or in a location where it can be trampled underfoot. That means ensuring a good path for the wiring and providing support where necessary. As noted earlier, when using a conduit like FMC, it is very important to support the conduit and to provide support within 12-inches of the power or connection box.
Step 3: Hooking it up
If the electrical wiring is running into or from a power source, connector or box, it is important to have the proper conduit connections. Each type of conduit will have its own type of connectors, fittings, and couplings where applicable.
In extensive conduit routing, elbows, tees, and routing fixtures may be required. It is important to have the conduit securely layed and placed, so running the electrical wiring will be a more simple and secure process.
When installing electrical wire, electricians use what they call a fishing technique to run the wire through the conduit. This is basically a matter of pulling wire through the conduit using a line or wire type of apparatus. This is also a good time to remember that if an electrical job, installation, or repair seems too big or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, then seek the assistance of a professional electrician.
Installing electrical wiring is an involved and sometimes complicated process. Failure to take the necessary precautions or not installing wiring properly can have serious consequences like electrical shock and fire.
Here are a few of the other more frequently asked questions regarding electrical wiring.
When Should I Call an Electrician?
Most electrical wiring jobs are not that tasking or require many tools. There is, however, a considerable amount of knowledge and caution needed when working with electricity. If you have questions about issues meeting the NEC (National Electrical Code), or about wiring safety, or if you aren’t comfortable handling the job, call an electrician.
Faulty wiring, incorrect wiring, and other wiring issues can have serious consequences. A professional certified electrician will ensure the job is done right, safely, and meets any necessary codes and requirements. If you are familiar with the principles of working with electricity and know how to do the job then there is no reason to not do the job yourself.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire an Electrician?
Hiring an electrician will cost between $40 to $80 an hour. Most electricians will also charge a service fee, which is generally around $75. The cost of the job will depend on several variables too.
The size of the job is a major consideration in the total cost of hiring an electrician. While a simple repair or rewiring job may only cost $200 or $300, larger jobs can cost considerably more. The cost of running wiring for an entire home, for example, can range from $2000 to $6000.
Do I Need to Use Conduit?
Conduit does more than protect wiring because by protecting electrical wiring, conduit keeps electricity flowing and keeps us safe. No, technically electrical wiring doesn’t need conduit to work, that is until a wire gets frayed, cut, or damaged. No, electricity doesn’t require the protective barrier conduit provides to deliver electricity, but it does need it to prevent the risks of shock, fires, and worse.
If you are working with electrical wiring, then you need to be sure to use conduit, and the right conduit, for the job. There is something a little scary about a power strong enough to kill, but that can’t be seen. That is also the kind of power that deserves respect, and the protection of conduit.
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