Houses in America are wired in many different ways. Some are wired in NM (Non-metallic sheath), some in BX and still others are installed in conduit. Conduit provides many distinct advantages over NM (Romex) and BX (Metal Sheathed) wiring. Conduit protects the wire from damage, is bonded to ground throughout the circuit, and leaves you with the ability to come back later and add circuits. Try that with NM or BX!
Wiring your home is pretty easy if you’re just stringing NM (Romex) or BX (Metal Sheathed) cable through the joists. Now give a homeowner some conduit and a bender and be prepared to hear a chuckle and a few choice words. Knowing how to bend conduit will save you time and undoubtedly keep you from pulling your hair out.
But, how do you bend the stuff? Wrap it around a tree? Drive over it with your car? My personal favorite is bending it over your knee. All good guesses, but that wouldn’t make it look very professional, now would it? There is method to the madness and I’ll teach some of the tricks of the trade that will make your bending nightmares disappear.
Things That You’ll Need
What you’ll need to complete this project:
A tape measure.
A bender of the same size as the pipe that you’re trying to bend.
A small level.
Measuring and Marking for Bending a 90 Degree Bend
The first step in bending a 90° bend is to determine how long the bend needs to be. Let’s say that you’re running a piece of ¾ inch pipe straight down a wall. Now you need to turn it into a box that is 12 inches from the wall.
Because the bender has a take-up of 6 inches from the starting arrow on the bender to the back of the bending shoe, mark a line in pencil six inches from the end of the conduit. This way, the six inches plus the take-up six inches add up to 12 inches, which is just what you wanted.
Now place the front of the bender over the pipe and line up the arrow on the front, right side of the bender shoe with the line you marked on the pipe. The arrow should be an inch or so back from the front of the shoe.
Making the Bend
Before you begin to bend, there is something you should know. Place a level on the pipe to make sure the floor that you are bending on is level. This will make the process much easier.
To start the bend, put pressure on the handle, pulling it back towards you. As you do, apply heavy foot pressure to the bender heel (the back side of the bending shoe) and press until the bender reaches the 90° mark. Look on the side of the bender for a quick reference. There are marks at 30°, 60°, and 90° to make your job easier.
When you think you’ve bent the pipe to the desired spot, check it by placing the level on the front side of the pipe. Is it plumb? Now double-check the pipe on the floor. Is it level? If so, then you have made your first good bend. Now check from the floor to the top of the pipe with your tape measure. It should be 12 inches and presto, you’ve done it!
As with anything you do in life, practice makes perfect. Just remember to keep firm foot pressure on the bender base while pulling back on the handle. If you don’t, the bender can slide on the pipe and the measurement will come out all wrong. After a few practice bends, you should be bending almost like a professional!