Article
Getting new wire to new fixtures and receptacles can be a challenging task. Fishing tape is one of the tools electrical contractors frequently turn to, to make the job a bit easier. This is especially true when wire or cabling is installed in conduit. Contractors can choose from tapes in steel, stainless steel, fiberglass and nylon, and each of these offers advantages to meet an application’s specific needs.

Going Fishing – for Wire

Chuck Ross
Getting new wire to new fixtures and receptacles can be a challenging task. Fishing tape is one of the tools electrical contractors frequently turn to, to make the job a bit easier. This is especially true when wire or cabling is installed in conduit. Contractors can choose from tapes in steel, stainless steel, fiberglass and nylon, and each of these offers advantages to meet an application’s specific needs.

Steel yourself
Steel is most-often the go-to fish tape for contractors, according to Adele Hendrix, product manager with Greenlee and its parent company, Emerson. She says the material offers a combination of strength and rigidity – pulling strength is usually rated at 500 pounds – along with the flexibility to make it around multiple 90-degree conduit bends. The most common width is 1/8-in., but stronger ¼-in tape is often used under flooring or in large-diameter conduit.

Stainless steel tape is a step up from the standard product, offering the same strength advantage, but with the addition of corrosion resistance. This makes it a good option for use in damp or outdoor environments.

Safety first
Fiberglass and nylon tape aren’t as strong as the two steel options, but they are non-conductive. Of the two, fiberglass is often preferred, Hendrix says, because it’s more rigid. This can make fiberglass tape easier to push through conduit, especially with existing cables in place. Safety regulations make one of these two materials the only choice in certain working conditions.

“When fishing in conduit with existing cable or near live wires, a non-conductive material is required,” Hendrix says. “Non-conductive materials such as fiberglass and nylon help reduce the risk of shock and can help prevent damage to any existing cable while fishing.”
Photo courtesy of Greenlee
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