When to Use Conduit for Electrical Wiring

Although most wires are enclosed in some sheath, sometimes, it is necessary to add additional protection using conduits. These are tubes used to protect your wires, and it's important to know when to use conduit for electrical wiring.

Electrical conduits are primarily used to protect circuit wires that are exposed in exterior and interior environments. Conduits offer a layer of protection against moisture and damage. Moreover, you can use it in the unfinished areas, such as attics and basements.

This article will enlist all the areas where electrical conduits are necessary and give you a more detailed insight into electrical conduits usage. Along with that, we will also explore the different types of conduits and where you can use them.

When should I use conduit electrical wiring?

It would help if you used an electrical conduit for wires running along in exposed areas, such as along a wall's exterior.

Electrical conduits can be an essential part of electrical wiring and systems within or outside our homes. As mentioned above, conduits protect the electrical wires by encasing them, providing them with an extra layer for safety, and preventing them from getting damaged or wet.

Exposed cables or electrical wires can be dangerous. It can also reduce the wires' efficiency and general lifespan as they will be damaged or torn. Thus, by encasing these wires within a tube, such as a conduit, you can protect wiring against harsh weather conditions and external factors that might threaten the wires.

Conduits can also be highly beneficial when used indoors for exposed wires in areas such as attics and basements. The main benefit of safeguarding your wires with conduits indoors is to protect them from pesky rodents or mice that may eat them away.

Primary Purpose of Electric Conduit?

Conduits are used to provide extra protection for electrical wires. Conduit protects both humans and the electrical wiring to prevent wires from pulling loose and creating shock hazards. It's important to use conduit even for buried wires to prevent damage to wiring from digging and moisture. 

Almost all conduits are available in different sizes. Besides protecting your wires, they are also great for keeping all your wires organized. If you feel that the wiring in your home looks messy with too many stray wires, conduit can help. Conduit allows you to organize wires, protect your family, and meet local electrical codes. 

Conduits will make your home look cleaner as fewer wires will be exposed and help you when you have to fix any of the wires in case of a short circuit.

Another benefit of using conduits within your home is that it makes replacing or fixing the wires easier. In addition, because the wires are encased within a conduit's tubing, locating them would be a breeze.

What are 3 Types of Conduit?

More than three types of conduits are available in the market, but FMC, PVC, and plastic conduit are the most popular ones.

Conduits are made with several materials that successfully provide sufficient protection to exposed wires within any structure or building. Different types of conduits, therefore, are used for various requirements and different areas. Let's explore each one in detail:

1. FMC

Among the types of conduits on the market, the Flexible Metal Conduit (FMC) is well-known for protecting wires in dry and exposed areas within a building. 

FMCs have a spiral construction, which allows them to be highly flexible, ensuring they can fit within the structure's tight spaces. If you want to protect exposed, short wirings in a tight area, such as water heaters, FMCs will be the right choice for this purpose.

2. Plastic Conduit

The rigid PVC conduit or plastic conduit is also commonly used within most structures around us. PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride, and the conduits made from this material are similar to a regular plumbing pipe made of plastic. 

These types of conduits are easily bent by using heat and can be glued together to form connections. If you need a conduit for a larger area, these plastic conduits are the best option. They can be joined together quickly and can be bent to protect wires regardless of the electrical system.

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3. EMT

Another prevalent type of conduit is Electrical Metal Tubing (EMT). It's usually made up of galvanized steel and made using aluminum. This type of conduit is also known as the 'Thin-Wall' conduit because the conduit is exceptionally lightweight and thin. 

Alongside having minimum weight, it is very rigid and sturdy, and thus, it requires a special tool called the conduit bender to be bent into the shape it needs to be.

Since the EMTs are made using steel or aluminum, they are beneficial for safeguarding wires for electrical applications. In addition, these conduits can conduct the electricity passing through them, thus providing an extra boost. 

EMTs are most commonly used to protect wires indoors, such as the lighting within our homes. However, most people only prefer to use EMTs indoors because they require fitted with special watertight fittings if you want to use this type of conduit outdoors. So, to avoid any unnecessary hassle, this conduit is often used indoors.

Depending on the type of wiring you need protection for and the wires' location (indoor or outdoor), a different conduit will be required. Therefore, we recommend doing some research first and choosing the right and specific type of conduit needed to avoid any further hassle regarding wire protection.

What Conduit to Use Outdoors

If you're looking for conduits that will protect outdoor wires, the LFMC is an excellent choice. LFMC stands for the Liquid-tight Flexible Metal Conduit. This type of conduit is perfect for the outdoors as it will protect your wires effectively in case of rain due to its watertight nature. 

Hence, LFMC's are most commonly used to protect the outside wires, for example, outdoor air conditioning units. As the name suggests, this type of conduits is watertight due to the covering of plastic sheathing over the conduit constructed from flexible metal.

When it comes to outdoor wiring, I recommend always using a conduit, as leaving wires exposed can look messy and is potentially dangerous. 

I live in an area where rainy days are common, and I know from experience that exposed wires are at a higher risk of getting worn out if you live in such areas. Using a conduit over these wires will provide adequate protection and have a significant influence on increasing the wire's lifespan as well.

However, besides LFMC, rigid PVCs can also be used for the conservation of exposed outdoor wiring. Since the PVC can withstand sun exposure and temperature changes to a certain degree, PVC can also be used for wires outdoors. 

PVC is relatively inexpensive, and since the links of the conduits are made with PVC glue, it is also quite simple to join them together. Therefore, this can be an excellent option for any exposed wires that need extra protection outdoors. 

When to Use Conduit for Electrical Wiring? Now You Know

Conduits are a great way to protect and safeguard the wiring within and outside your home. It allows your wires to be functional in a much safer way. Conduits are not only protective, but they are also quite firm and durable. They can even withstand harsh conditions!

The damage caused to your wiring system due to exposure can be irreversible. However, using a good-quality conduit, you will be able to safeguard your wires for a more extended period. 

Since there is a large variety of conduits available on the market, you can easily find the proper conduit for your needs and protect your electrical systems indoors as well as outdoors.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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