A Few Basics of How to Bend Conduit
Knowing how to bend conduit is one of the essential skills of electricians and building professionals. Since conduits are supplied as straight lengths of 10 or 20 feet, the rooms or walls may have different shapes or obstacles that prevent laying them according to their shape.
In most cases, there are elbows that allow the conduit to take corners. However, it may not be possible to make some shapes, hence, the need to know how to bend conduit and meet the custom requirements. Plus when you have a bender, you will not need to purchase the elbows and this will lower the installation costs.
Aside from allowing technicians to make custom shapes, the bending of conduits can reduce the installation costs while eliminating the need to cut and put threads on the conduit.
Although it is a simple process when you have the right tools and skills, it can be challenging for inexperienced technicians. But with enough training and practice, they can gradually start making perfect bends with ease. The process requires a few tools and may differ depending on the type of conduit and shape of the structure.
Types of conduit bends
Generally, there are three common types of conduit bends; the saddle, the common offset and the 90-degree bend. However, these are not the only ones and there are other advanced types, such as the concentric bend.
Right angle bend
The 90° bend is the commonly used among the other types. This is typically seen in rooms or areas with right angles. This is easy to make and professionals who thoroughly knows how to bend conduit do not even have to cut it so it will fit around the room. Instead, they use the right calculations. Once they identify where to put the bend with proper markings, they then place and align the conduit in the bender.
This is usually used when there is an obstacle along the surface where the conduit is running through. The offset enables the conduit to jog over, to the side of-, or under the object on its path.
Saddles are commonly used when the conduit needs to raise a section of the conduit so that it can cross an obstacle. This is usually available as a 3 point or the 4 point saddle depending on the number of bends.
The 4 point has two offsets, a space between them and a total of four bends. This space raises the section of the conduit over the obstacle. To make the saddle, start with one offset on one side, place the conduit in the bender but with the opposite end at the front, and then make the second offset. In this arrangement, a 45° bend returns back a 45° once it has passed the obstacle. The 3 point saddle only has one offset and does not provide as much clearance as the 4 point.
Tools to bend conduit
It only requires a few simple tools and knowledge on how to bend conduit. However it requires accuracy and caution. The main tools include;
- Conduit bender
- Tape measure
- A marking tool or pen :
- A level
This is the major tool used to bend conduit. It comes in various designs and sizes to cater for different types of conduits and bend angles. Most people prefer the aluminum bender over the steel type due to its lightweight and strength. Advanced benders such as those with the angle and multiplier markings on the sides are easier and faster to use. These have several bend angles and multipliers to choose from, hence, eliminating the need to use other measurement tools, and minimizing possible errors. This is useful for any technician with the knowledge on how to bend conduit
When selecting the bender, you must match the size with the diameter of the conduit.
How to bend conduit
Generally, you need to initially determine the type of bend you will be making based on application. If it is a conduit in a normal room and needs to go from one wall to the perpendicular wall, the corner will most definitely be a right angle and you will need to make a 90 degree bend. The benders will usually have a provision for other angles and may have 22.5, 30, 45, 60 and 90. While the 90 and 45 are the most commonly used, you may need to use the others in certain applications.
You will need to use a tape measure and protractor to determine and mark the correct measurements. Using the marker, indicate where you will bend conduit based on your calculations, or after laying the conduit where it will be going. It is not always possible to lay the conduit in some areas, so you will have to take the measurements of the structure and then transfer these to the conduit while factoring in the bend and diameter of the conduit.
Benders will usually have different marks to show you the beginning and end or back of the bend. When placing the conduit, ensure that you have selected the correct degree marker and aligned the curve with either the beginning or back symbol depending on the type of bend you are making.
Once you have put the conduit in place and firmly on the bender, use the foot hold to apply a steady and firm pressure. Once done, remove the conduit from the bender and confirm that the angle is correct, if not, place it back in the tool so that you can adjust it till you get what you want. One way of ensuring that the bend will fit properly is by taking and marking the accurate measurements and calculations.
Every technician should learn how to bend conduit. In addition, it is essential to invest in the right tools including the conduit bender which is the most essential, and others such as the markers, tape measure, leveling tool, etc.
Generally, there are different factory made accessories to join the conduits or allow the technician to take bends. While these couplers and bends are adequate for most of the standard shapes such as the 90o corners, it might not be possible to get the right component for irregular shapes. This is why it becomes necessary to know how to bend conduit since it allows the technician to make any shape at a lower cost.