In many places these days, local governments and city councils have opted to have their electrical and telecommunication cables laid out through a below ground conduit system. It makes sense, since having the conduits below ground keeps the unsightly cables from affecting the aesthetics of the neighborhood. When you have a neighborhood that doesn’t have ugly cables strewn between poles everywhere, you can expect higher real estate prices.
However, it’s not that easy to install a conduit system below the ground. Care must be taken so that the material used for the conduit system complies with construction requirements while remaining economical.
The requirements include the following:
It Should Be Resistant to Crush and Impact Forces
In many cases, these conduits are installed under busy streets, so you often have many tons of vehicles running over these conduits. Sometimes you may even have heavy trucks rolling across them. What this means is that the conduit material must be extremely tough, and it shouldn’t buckle down even with so much weight placed on it.
It Should Be Lightweight
Even though you need the conduits to be tough, it also should be lightweight. That’s because installing heavy conduits below the ground can be manpower-intensive, and it can take a lot of time. If the material used for the conduit is too heavy when it meets the strength requirements, the installation costs can skyrocket.
It’s for this reason why steel conduits are often impractical. When you get them strong enough, they can be too heavy to carry by a single person. That’s why aluminum is a better choice than steel, as aluminum’s strength to weight ratio is so much higher.
But an even better choice is fiberglass. When two conduits have the same strength, the fiberglass conduit only weighs half as much as the aluminum conduit (and only 1/7 of the weight of a steel conduit). Fiberglass conduit pieces can be so lightweight that a single segment can be carried easily by a single worker. In comparison, other conduits with the same length but made with a different material may need two or more workers to carry to a particular location.
It Shouldn’t Rot
Over time, some materials may decay and rot. Often this is a problem when using natural materials, as these are usually susceptible to bacterial and fungal attacks. Bacteria and fungi can thrive below the ground, and they can cause some natural compounds to rot. This isn’t good for durability and cost-effectiveness perspectives. When you use materials with a tendency to rot, you’ll have problems with constant repairs and replacements, and these can be quite costly.
It Should Be Invulnerable to Rodents
Rodents like rats, mice and squirrels like to nibble on some types of materials. You can see that often at home when rodents nibble electrical cables on. That’s not good when you have telecommunications and electrical systems running through conduits below-ground.
It Should Have a Wide Temperature Operational Range
As the seasons change, the temperatures under the ground can get very cold. At the same time, it can get very warm as well especially when the conduits are used for electrical cables. However, some materials like high-quality fiberglass can operate at a temperature range of -40 degrees F to 230 degrees F.
It Should Have No Toxic Materials
This should be an obvious requirement, since toxins from the conduits can leak into the soil and water underground. Some conduits can contain dangerous chemicals such as halogen and chlorine.
So what materials satisfy these requirements? Many companies have found that high-quality fiberglass can comply with even the stringiest of safety standards.