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Question DetailsAsked on 5/7/2011

Running an electrical wire

How do you run a 110V electrical wire through a conduit with three 90 degree turns in it?

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5 Answers


According to an A-rated electrician, this can be difficult. You need to have two people - someone at each end. You need something to pull the wire in such as string and then one person needs to push while the other pulls. For help, check out electricians in your area:

Answered 9 years ago by Angie's List


Use an electrician's fish tape

Answered 9 years ago by Kestrel Electric


As Kestrel said - electrician fish tape (actually a pulling wire, not tape) using wire pulling lubricant - assuming conduit has legal space for another circuit - normally legal limit is only about 1/2-2/3 of diameter full of wire depending on conduit size, so even if it looks like a couple more would fit in there that may be illegal and risking overheating of wires, which need air space to cool and not have too many other wires heating the area up.

With new conduit - pull a pull box at one or more of the difficult turns - looks like this photo about 2/3 way down blog, and use sweep rather than tight bends -

If replacing a wire, twist splice and solder new wire to end of old and feed it in as old one is being pulled out - or use Kellum Grip (like chinese finger trap) puller on the end of new wire attached to old wire.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


The 90 degree turns need to be accomplished by bending the conduit with a conduit bender. If the bends were made with 90 degree fittings then you'll never be able to pull wire without dissassembling the 90 degree conduit fittings.

Answered 6 years ago by Kestrel Electric


On Kestrel's comment on 90's - certainly bending a single piece of conduit in sweep curves with a conduit bender is optimal to minimize joints - but with long conduit runs or on a job with tight space for conduit corners, it is common practice to use a pull elbow - commonly look like the two links below, and have removeable cover plates to allow you to ease the electrician wire pulling tape and the wire around the corner by hand, or by pulling it to the fitting and out into open air, then leaving a sizeable loop in air when doing the pulling, feed it into the next leg of the conduit from there, taking out the loop and putting on the cover plate only after the wire pulling has gotten to the next open pull point. Sort of like a junction box without any wire splices or junction.

There are also prefabricated sweep (larger radius bend) curves called "pulling bends" designed for electrical conduit which make wire pulling through them easier and less likely to damage the outer covering. If pulling wire any distance or around more than one such bend, you need the type which is designed for wire pulling - the curve matches up to the straight conduit perfectly end-to-end with internal smoothed ends on the pieces, and put together with an external compression-type or threaded union-type connector, so there is nothing on the inside of the conduit to restrict the wire or strip the insulation as the wire is pulled, as can easily occur with standard conduit fittings which have roughish internal ends and gaps in the conduit inner surface when assembled. If pulling any size wire (stiff - like larger than #10 or so) around bends you have to use wire pulling lubricant so you do not inadvertantly stretch the wire or insulation and damage it. And as Kestrel implied - going around more than one or two 90's is about the limit in most cases with large gauge wire - so it needs to be pulled incrementally as the conduit is installed if you have a lot of bends to go around, or use pulling fittings or boxes.

Of course, you always have the option of bring the conduit into a junction box to use it as a pull box, then continue on from there with or without actually making a junction or splice at that point. Though junction boxes, if there is actually a wire splice or connection there, by code have to be exposed to view for future access and checking of wiring connections.

Three bends as you are talking about you just might make in fair sized conduit with a single 110V wire if the bends are fairly close together - with one person pulling on a pull rope with kellum grip or soldered pulling connection, and another person pushing on the feed-in end of the wire to reduce the drag. But I would just use pull turn fittings as shown above (at least at the middle turn), which also allows for possible future running of additional or replacement wire. Unlike junction boxes with wire connections/splices, pull fittings do NOT have to be exposed to view - you can put a protective or decorative cover over them, or even bury them in the wall or floor - though of course in that case they are useless for future access to the wires in a finished/drywalled house unless there is a diagram somewhere showing exactly where they are. If pulling around 3 bends without intermidiate access (say because the conduit is already hidden in place), I would certainly upsize to not less than #12 wire, and solid, not stranded if allowed by code for your application, to minimize wire damage possibility when pulling. However, there are those who swear by stranded because it goes around the bends easier - but pretty useless to push on the other end with stranded, so I have always preferred solid - for that reason plus too cases where I have found stranded wire got damaged internally and partly pulled apart, breaking some strands. And of course, in smaller sizes (therefore distribution cixrcuits, not main feeds), solid is easier to legally terminate without having to solder the strands to wrap around or put into connectors without breaking some or having a lot of stray strands.

One other thing - there is also THHN and THWN, and also TEW (control panel wire - thicker insulation and more rugged) available with teflon coating for pulling which might make it an easier go - usually available by the foot at electrical wholesale distributors, so you do not have to buy a whole roll. Which might be usable/legal for your type of conduit and application, though would require termination at each end at a legal junction box if not run all the way to the termination lugs in a panel or electrical box with that wire - no mid-run splices are allowed (with one recently approved brand) without a junction box.

Oh - one other thing out of the gray matter rattling around in the lower recesses of my brainbox - I seem to recall from licensing exam studying (without actually looking it up) that there is something in the electrical code about not being allowed to pull wire (direct pull, without a pull box or fitting) around more than 360 degrees of bends total per run.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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