Electrical conduits are pipe-like structures or tubes that carry electrical wires across buildings and structures. Conduits protect the electrical cables and any person near the wires from electrocution or harm.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) and local codes decide whether electrical conduits can be used for a structure and the type that can be installed.
Can an electrical conduit be used for water?
Electrical conduits are for carrying electrical wires, and pipes are for water. Electrical tubes and water pipes are not made from the same materials. They contain various stabilizers and other toxic ingredients. So, do not use electrical conduits as water pipes for water systems.
Electrical conduits and water pipes are manufactured for serving different purposes. These two products are dissimilar in terms of their use. Therefore, these pipes should not be mixed in installations.
PVC electrical conduit:
PVC electrical conduits are made to protect and carry electrical wires. Sometimes, electrical cables need to be drawn through walls, floors, and ceilings. In that case, electrical conduits are used to protect the electrical wires from the surroundings.
Residential and commercial buildings and structures use electrical conduits. The National Electrical Code and the local codes decide whether electrical pipes can be used and what type can be used. Water pipes are not used in place of electrical conduits.
Water pipes are PVC pipes marked safe by the National Sanitation Foundation. PVC pipes without the “NSF” marking cannot be used for water systems as those are unsafe to be used as water pipes.
Rsiky pipes will make freshwater undrinkable by adding toxic ingredients to the water.
PVC pipes can be used as electrical conduits. However, not all PVC pipes can be used as water pipes unless marked safe by the National Sanitation Foundation. Therefore, PVC electrical conduits and water pipes are never mixed in the piping of water systems.
3 reasons why electrical conduit cannot be used for water
There are numerous reasons why electrical conduits should not be used as water pipes. Some of the reasons are given below:
Ability to withstand pressure:
Electrical conduits are usually used inside walls of buildings and structures. Therefore, these tubes do not have to bear a lot of stress. Water pipes, however, are used in various locations.
Some tubes are placed underground, while some are placed inside walls. Water pipes have to withstand a lot of pressure in those locations. So, water pipes are tested to withstand pressure. They are pressure tested, and the pressure ratings are printed on the water pipes.
Electrical conduits are not pressure tested. So, these cannot be used as alternatives to water pipes.
Water pipes are significantly thicker than PVC electrical conduits. Water pipes are denser because water pipes have to withstand pressure. The thickness also helps in avoiding leakage.
Since electrical tubes are thinner, there is a greater chance of water leaking if used as water pipes. Moreover, PVC electrical conduits may not withstand high pressures and break easily.
Electrical conduits are situated around the building or structure. They are used within walls and also outdoors. So, they are tested to prevent UV radiation from damaging the tubes. Water pipes are not UV tested and will be damaged by UV rays.
UV rays will make water pipes brittle and cracked. Therefore, water pipes cannot be used outdoors as electrical conduits.
These are reasons why you should not interchange electrical conduits with water pipes. They are designed for different purposes.
Difference between plumbing PVC and electrical PVC
Several differences are present between plumbing PVC and electrical PVC. Some of them are given below:
The most noticeable difference between plumbing PVC and electrical PVC pipes is their color. Plumbing PVC is white and electrical PVC is usually grey. However, some plumbing pipes are grey. Although they are grey, they cannot be used as electrical PVC pipes.
So, the two cannot be interchanged. Additionally, there are various other colored plumbing and electrical PVC pipes.
Although plumbing PVC and electrical PVC pipes are similar, they are designed for different purposes. Plumbing PVC pipes are made to be used as water pipes. These pipes are marked safe as the water quality is not affected while flowing through them.
Electrical PVC is made for protecting and carrying electrical wires. These cannot be used as water pipes.
Plumbing PVC and electrical PVC pipes both go through different tests. Plumbing PVC goes through pressure testing, and electrical PVC goes through UV testing. Pressure testing ensures that the plumbing PVC pipes are reliable enough not to leak.
Electrical PVC pipes are UV tested as they are used outside. So, they are exposed to UV radiation from sunlight. UV testing makes sure that the pipe does not become brittle under UV radiation.
Plumbing PVC pipes are made thicker than electrical PVC pipes. Plumbing PVC pipes have to withstand a lot of pressure. Therefore, these are denser, so they do not break easily under pressure.
Since electrical PVC pipes do not have to withstand pressure like plumbing PVC pipes, they are thinner. Their thinness makes them lighter and easier to use.
These are the differences between plumbing PVC and electrical PVC pipes. It is mandatory to know the differences between the two pipes to understand their application.
Is the electrical conduit waterproof?
The waterproof property of an electrical conduit depends on the material. Most electrical pipes are made to be waterproof, so, can be used in various locations.
Electrical conduits made of flexible PVC are not as waterproof as rigid PVC conduits. However, flexible PVC conduits are lighter and can be made waterproof by using special fittings. They are used above ground and not buried underground.
Rigid PVC conduits are suitable for almost all environments. These come with watertight fittings or can be glued together using PVC cement. Since rigid PVC conduits are waterproof, they can be used above and underground.
Does the electrical conduit need to be waterproof?
Electrical conduits carry and protect wires. Therefore, electrical pipes should be waterproof.
Some electrical conduits are used outdoors. They are used above or under the ground. Electrical pipes that are used underground should be waterproof.
If water gets inside electrical conduits, it may cause the wires to short out. Shorting the electrical cables will also make the wet surroundings harmful for living creatures. Additionally, the electrical cords may heat up and cause fires.
Therefore, it is better to use waterproof electrical conduits underground. In that way, water will not enter the electrical pipes and be safe. If the electrical tube is weatherproof, it will also resist corrosion.
Electrical conduits used above ground do not need to be waterproof. If they are weatherproof, they will also be able to resist corrosion. Since water does not usually collect above ground, it is not necessary to use waterproof electrical conduits above the ground.
How to seal electrical conduit from water?
You can follow the steps below to seal the electrical conduits from water.
Install caps at either end of the conduits:
Use some caps at the ends of the electrical pipes. The caps will prevent mud, dirt, or water from entering the electrical tubes. Installing caps will keep the wires safe and prevent them from shorting out.
Pull wire through the caps:
Drill a hole through each of the caps. Then, pull out the wires through the holes. Doing this will allow you to run more wires through the electrical conduits in the future.
Seal the caps:
After pulling out the necessary wires through the caps, place the caps on the ends of the electrical conduits. Then, seal the caulks with silicone. Sealing will watertight the ends of the electrical pipes.
Finally, bury the electrical conduit. Burying the electrical pipes will make it look neat and clean. However, do not put too much earth on the tubes as that might compromise the quality of the lines.
If all the steps have been done correctly, water, mud, or dirt will not enter the electrical conduits. You will be assured the electrical wires are safe and will not short out. Moreover, you can also run more wires through the pipes in the future.
Electrical conduits or electrical PVC pipes are not safe for water systems. They are not tested to be used as water pipes. Moreover, they are not thick enough to withstand high pressure, like plumbing PVC pipes. Therefore, plumbing PVC and electrical PVC pipes should not be mixed.