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Yesterday I ran a new 100ft home-run of 12/3 Romex through the crawlspace of my house, and I noticed that my cable is not as neat as other runs that other electricians had installed.

In particular, the cable had lots of knots and kept twisting (vs other cables I saw which looked nice and flat). Many of the twists and knots appeared when I was pulling the new cable from the crawlspace (a friend was helping feed it from the wall in the house, straight from the roll of Romex from the store). I tried to straighten certain parts with my hands but it was hopeless.

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(p.s. I didn't leave the cable dangling like this)

Why is this happening and how can I pull straighter cable in the future?

2 Answers 2

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If you don't unreel the cable, it gets one twist for every loop on the roll. Which is what this looks like - just pulling it from the center of a roll, or off the end of a reel, without turning the roll or reel.

Putting spooled/reeled wire spools on an axle, or using a turntable/spinning jenny for coils of unspooled wire, or having an assistant at the feed end who bothers to turn the roll as the wire comes off would solve it.

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    Some types of cable come in a box, specially designed and spooled so that drawing the cable through a hole in the side allows the cable to come off almost straight. Inside the box the cable is wound in a figure-8 and drawn from the inside to avoid snags and snarls. Quality UTP / ethernet cable is generally supplied like this.
    – Criggie
    May 30, 2023 at 4:44
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    NM-B does not come that way, AFAIK.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 30, 2023 at 11:26
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    For small DIY projects the "reel" can be ridiculously simple. A stick screwed to a stud. A broom on two garage hooks. A barbell. Someone's arm.
    – jay613
    May 30, 2023 at 12:58
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    A lazy susan (and an assistant, if available) can do wonders. Set the lazy susan on the floor with the box on top so that the box can spin freely as you pull the cable up. You can use a lazy susan bearing if you don't want to raise the ire of the house staff by using the good lazy susan.
    – HABO
    May 30, 2023 at 13:28
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    If everything else fails, one just switches the direction of spooling every few loops.
    – fraxinus
    May 30, 2023 at 16:42
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To answer the question about the cable you already have:

Buy new cable, then hang it over a stairway railing with a weight at the bottom for a day or two. Don't put a literal ton of strain on the cable, but sufficient to pull it straight.

Granted, 100 ft is longer than most people's stairways (are you by chance a lighthouse operator? No? Worth a shot) but then you can double it over and have just a few kinks in it rather than kinks all over.

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    "Uninstalling" NM tends to turn NM into scrap, because removing staples tends to damage the insulation. The twists are unsightly and indicate a certain level of lack of workmanship, but are not hazardous (if anything, it will cool slightly better than a neat/flat cable.) I would not recommend doing as suggested here.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 30, 2023 at 22:12
  • Noted; I am not familiar with "NM". I have amended my wording.
    – noughtnaut
    May 31, 2023 at 8:16
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    This seems to be about removing bends, but not twist. Does lightly stretching copper actually do that? I'd have expected it to spring back.
    – isherwood
    May 31, 2023 at 13:33
  • Dont do this with electrical cable, just unroll it first before you run it, if you dont work with NM much, its easier to roll it out flat before installing. Either that or use the suggested broomstick or "lazy suzan"
    – element11
    May 31, 2023 at 20:15

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