We bought our new house back in June. I was doing some mouse-proofing this weekend and found this beauty:

Broken conduit body

The wires are going out to our pool. Any suggestions on how best to approach fixing this? Possible ways I could do this:

  1. Glue it back together, caulk the hell out of it
  2. Cut the wires, install an new conduit body, wire nut everything back together. I realize that this might be a better way to do it but there is no give in the wires so it will be a little tricky.

I'm open to suggestions here. Thanks in advance!

  • How far is it from the conduit body to the nearest junction (inside or out)? – Tester101 Aug 28 '17 at 13:55
  • The nearest junction box outside is 30-40 ft. As for inside, I haven't poked around that far yet but I am guessing that it is a fairly significant distance: this conduit is at the opposite end of the house from any of the panels. Thanks – Nigel Crawford Aug 28 '17 at 14:15
  • Depending on the home, and who originally wired the circuit. It's possible that the entire circuit is in conduit, in which case it probably runs all the way back to the panel. However, it's also possible that there's a junction just inside the home (basement/crawlspace), to switch from NM cable to individual wires. – Tester101 Aug 28 '17 at 14:19
  • I am guessing that it will be a pretty easy fix if there is a junction in the basement, correct? Disconnect the wires at the junction, pull them through the wall, install the new conduit body, and push the wired back through, correct? What about worst case scenario: no junction box? How would you fix this in that case? – Nigel Crawford Aug 28 '17 at 14:33
  • I'd follow the procedure you just mentioned. Having a junction nearby just makes things easier. – Tester101 Aug 28 '17 at 14:42

This is THHN wire in conduit. I do conduit pipe repairs and conduit-body replacements all the time.

That conduit body is not repairable.

You cannot splice inside a conduit body. They don't have the needed space. Also you need 12" of slack to even think about a splice in a junction box.

Mark and document

First, you make sure every wire is marked in a unique manner, typically by wrapping tape around the wires near the ends (both ends). You may need to use diagnostic methods to suss this out, e.g. Unhook one white wire and see what loses power. However in this particular case, it looks like your installer used a rainbow of wire, making this stupid easy. This is why wire comes in 12 colors.

Then you document where each wire goes. Photos and colored tape helps.

Easiest direction to pull

Then you decide which end has the fewest bends and will be easiest to pull. Unhook all the wires and add a string to the mix, so you can pull the string through. (it's not terribly hard to run a string through an empty conduit if you skip this step). Pull them back to the defect point. When they are near, wrap the bundle with tape, so they don't separate. Pull off the string if you added it. When pulling with string, watch out for hot parts of your panel - this is why I don't like to do it. Don't pull too hard, go back to the other site to correct any wire snags, so you don't rake the wire across a sharp edge.

Make repairs. Try to work around the ends of the wires, if you must pull/push them beyond the work area, try to do this absolutely no farther than necessary so you can grab it firmly with needle nose pliers. Otherwise things get harder, you must pull it all the way out and do a "proper pull".

Push and tease

Once repairs are complete, grab the wires. Wrap the bundle with wires staggered, starting at the first exposed wire end, to make the bundle as easy as possible to push through the conduit. Bend the nose of the bundle so it doesn't hug the edge of the pipe (otherwise it will hang up on fittings). If you pulled a string through, add that string to the bundle, and pull. Be gentle, if it feels like you might break the string, stop, and use the string to pull through a better string.

Or I usually push them back the way they came. This can sometimes be tedious. The answer here is not force but finesse. Force will only bend/crumple the wires inside the pipe. I do about 90% of my pulls with this push-tease technique. This will be easy until you hit the first bend, then harder. It can be near impossible after two 90's. I am not beneath temporarily disassembling a bit of conduit to help things along, but mainly, I build conduit with a lot of access points.

If push-tease doesn't work, then break out the regular pulling tools - fishing tape, rope, bit of cloth and a vacuum cleaner, etc.

  • 1
    Would it be useful to connect a line/fish tape onto the wires when you pull them out, so you can use it to pull them back through? – Tester101 Aug 28 '17 at 17:15
  • I use pull strings all the time , a piece of clothes line would be a cheap method flor a home owner, prior to pulling the wire back connect a line to the wires once your repair is completed pull the wires back with the string. It is always best to have 1 person feeding the wire and another pulling. – Ed Beal Aug 28 '17 at 20:14
  • @Tester101 I'm putting it in there because people will give me a hard time if I don't... but if the route is reasonably short or straight, I usually just push it honestly, why fool around with the string if you don't have to. Often your choices are pull the string at a sharp angle, or put your hands way too close to the live lugs. Also you need to be in 2 places at once lol. – Harper Aug 28 '17 at 20:39
  • @Harper I agree with you that a string isn't necessary if it's a short pull. However, OP says the pull would be 30-40' to the outside, or across the house on the inside. So a line and a helper might be required in this case. – Tester101 Aug 29 '17 at 0:42

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