Electrical conduit mistakes (C) D Friedman T HemmElectrical Conduit Damage
Defects in electrical conduit

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Electrical Conduit inspection for damage or defects:

Here we describe common errors found at electrical conduit installations including physical damage, improper installation, improper wiring, use of wrong materials. Any of these can create an unsafe condition risking electrical shock or fire.

This article series describes both metallic electrical conduit and plastic or non-metallic electrical conduit products, and answers basic questions about installing electrical conduit. Electrical conduit is metal or plastic rigid or flexible tubing used to route electrical wires in a building.

The page top photo showing rigid conduit used to bring wires up to an electrical sub-panel was provided courtesy of Tim Hemm.

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Electrical Wiring Conduit Defects Found by Visual Inspection

Damaged electrical conduit

If our inspection is limited to an external, visual inspection of electrical conduit, we may not immediately be able to see safety and electrical code violations such as use of improper wire type or too many wires in a conduit, but here are some easy to spot concerns that merit further review by an expert:

We often see a free-standing electrical junction box, perhaps holding an electrical receptacle, which has been struck and broken off from impact.

The outdoor electrical receptacle resting on its back (photo above) has broken off from its mount, exposed wires, possibly nicked their insulation to create an immediate fatal shock hazard, and, if you click to enlarge the photo you'll see that the rigid metal conduit was badly rusted: I suspect water is entering this wiring system.

If this circuit is GFCI protected I'd expect or at least hope for it to be OFF in the tripped position.

[Click to enlarge any image]

While electrical conduit can provide superior protection for electrical wiring, rigid conduit is also vulnerable to impact damage.

Look for conduit which has been bent, dented, crimped, cut, or broken.

Tim Hemm's photo at left shows how easily a rigid conduit mounted outdoor electrical receptacle can be kicked over and broken. This condition adds the risk of a nicked or cut wire insulation making an immediate risk of electric shock or electrocution.

Damaged electrical conduit invites leaks (C) D Friedman T Hemm

Leaks into electrical conduit can occur where improper fittings are used or where the conduit is damaged.

See ELECTRICAL WIRE STRIPPING TIPS for details on proper preparation of flexible conduit, metallic cable (MC) or "BX" cable, or armored cable (AC) wiring.

Even flexible conduit, such as the one shown in Tim Hemm's photo at left can be damaged by impact or pulling on the conduit. Such an open conduit line invites water entry, short circuits, and unsafe conditions.

Metal fencing used as electrical conduit (C) D Friedman T Hemm

Improper materials used as electrical conduit: only tubing which has been approved (NEC) and listed (UL, CSA) should be used for routing electrical wires.

Watch out: In Tim Hemm's photo shown above some fool has used metal fence piping to run electrical wires, risking electrocuting someone who simply touches the fence.

Rigid plastic electrical conduit (C) Daniel Friedman T Hemm

Above: Tim Hemm's photo illustrates a do-it-yourself and improper PVC conduit termination (orange arrow) and a damaged, disconnected plastic conduit elbow and tubing at ground level (blue arrow). [3] at REVIEWERS

Below: another do-it-yourself electrical conduit job sports copper water piping used as electrical conduit between two electrical sub panels. This is not a listed, nor approved, nor safe electrical installation.

Copper water pipe electrical conduit (C)

This website provides information about a variety of electrical hazards in buildings, with articles focused on the inspection, detection, and reporting of electrical hazards and on proper electrical repair methods for unsafe electrical conditions.

Below: an improper indoor-rated electrical box? broken off from a mount on conduit outside, hanging by wires.

Electrical conduit wiring & box damage (C)

Below: flexible condut stuck into an electrical panel, no connector.

Flexible metal conduit improperly connected to electrical panel (C)


Continue reading at ELECTRICAL CONDUIT, NON-METALLIC or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see SEWER SEPTIC GAS CONDUIT LEAKS - odors carried into a home through its electrical conduit

Or see these

Electrical Conduit Types, Applications, Codes, Standards, Sources

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ELECTRICAL CONDUIT DEFECTS & DAMAGE at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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