How To Pull Cables Through Conduit

If you need to install new cables, you will need to pull wires through a conduit. Conduit is a pipe, cable, or wire installed to neaten connections and keep them safe. 

While the task is simple, an assistant helps make the process easier. One person pushes the wire or cable in the conduit as the second person pulls. Here are tips to fish wires through conduit.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you should have:

  • work gloves (Gloves aren't a necessity but they can reduce stress on the hands.)
  • light and heavy string 
  • white tape
  • electrical tape
  • fish tape
  • permanent marker
  • wire puller
  • cutting pliers
  • non-flexible rod 
  • vacuum cleaner

Before you start anything, contact you local building codes department to find the number of wires allowed in a single conduit. Then shut off power to the area. 

Use the String Method

It is ideal to practice the technique on shorter conduits to master it before you begin working on the real thing. Unravel several feet of string and insert it through the conduit. Turn on the vacuum and connect it to the end of the conduit.

The vacuum should pull the string through the conduit. Watch for the string  to come through at the end, ensuring it doesn't tangle or snag. Pull a heavier string through the conduit by hand. For long runs or conduits with multiple bends, apply wiring lubricant to reduce friction. 

Attach the cable wires to the string, and avoid clumps of wires. Form loops six inches from the end of the wire with the wire pulling cord, and insert additional wiring through the loop. 

Fold these wires over the first wire, and secure the connection with electrical tape. Pull the cable through with the other end of the string.

For shorter conduits, you may prefer to use a non-flexible rod. Push the rod and string through the conduit. After the string and rod comes through the end, attach the cable wires to the opposite end, and pull everything through the conduit.

Pull with Fish Tape

Fish tape is a narrow wire made of steel. Secure the wires with electrical tape four inches from the cable. Use the cutting pliers to make an arrow-shape on the end of the bundles. Wrap white tape around the bundle, and mark the tape with a marker. Let the ink dry.

Slide the wiring into the loop at the end of the fish tape. Have an assistant guide the other end as you pull the fish tape through by turning the crank. Remove the white tape.

Once the cable is pulled through, hook up the wires to the power source and restore electricity.

If you don't trust your skill working with wires and electricity, contact an electrician like RDS Electric.