A Comprehensive Guide for Electricians on How to Bend EMT Conduit
A Conduit Bending Guide
Bending conduit is an integral part of an electrician's work, and this set of articles is designed to help electricians, whether a beginning apprentice or an experienced journeyman, learn how to bend conduit.
The article you are reading is intended primarily as an "index" to the other pages that actually comprise the instructions and methods of a conduit bending guide. Links are provided further down to each type of bend, one to a discussion of the math behind bending emt, and a couple of other links to tools that might interest the professional electrician. By clicking on a particular link you will be taken to the page indicated for that conduit bend - please use your "back" button to return back to this index page.
This guide is a work in progress; while offsets and saddles are discussed on the page written for the beginning apprentice future pages are intended for a more in-depth look at these bends. If you don't find what you are looking for, please leave a note and I will try to accommodate you with future pages.
General Considerations For Bending EMT Conduit
One of the biggest problems I see with electricians bending conduit is that they forget, or ignore, the constraints placed on the number of degrees permissable without a junction box. Many, many electricians will bend nothing but 90's and 30º angles, resulting in either a very difficult wire pull or unnecessary use of junction boxes. Remember, each junction box requires at the minimum a box, a cover plate, two conduit connectors and a few screws. There is likely to be wire splices used in the box, meaning more time, some wire nuts and perhaps a problem down the road troubleshooting bad makeup.
Always consider the minimum number of degrees necessary to accomplish what needs to be done. If an offset can be made with 10º bends (in a reasonable manner) instead of the typical 30º bends use the smaller bend. Going from a 30º to 10º offset will save 40º each time. Two such offsets in a conduit run (not uncommon) saves nearly a 90º bend and perhaps a junction box. If you are pulling the wire, you will appreciate the savings, and so will anyone else.
Beyond this, though, there are places where junction boxes cannot be used. Above a hard lid, for instance - using large bends can cause real trouble when you suddenly need to set a box above a bathroom ceiling or other hard lid. A little pre-planning can go a long ways here. Or perhaps in the middle of a long conduit run of an exposed rack of pipe where there simply isn't room to set a box on each pipe in the rack.
Anyone learning how to bend conduit will need to learn to think in three dimensions. Conduit runs do not always travel in a straight line; they can go up or down, right or left or anything in between. Learning to conceptualize the results of possible bends is not always easy, but with practice and time it will become almost second nature. Work on it - it will help minimize the degrees of bend needed.
A final note; please consider purchasing your own hand benders. Each bender is slightly different, with a little different feel and used just a little differently. While any bender can be used, once the skill is learned, you will do better with your own bender. In addition, your own bender can be personalized; the page on bending saddles describes how to permanently mark your own bender for the center of a 22º bend for instance. Benders are a relatively inexpensive part of the electricians tool kit and can easily last a lifetime.
A Basic Bending Guide For The New Electrician
- EMT Electrical Conduit Pipe Bending Instructions - a Conduit Bending Guide for Beginning Electrician
Beginning electricians need to understand electrical conduit bending. Here are instructions for common bends, a conduit bending guide intended for the new electrician learning their trade.
How To Bend A 90
- EMT Electrical Conduit Pipe Bending - How to Bend a 90
A conduit bending guide for bending a 90 degree bend in electrical conduit. Possibly the most basic and common of bends, but there are several ways to bend a 90.
Making Concentric Bends In Conduit
- EMT Electrical Conduit Pipe Bending Instructions For Making Concentric Bends
EMT conduit bending instructions on how to make concentric bends in conduit. Not an easy task, but not impossible either, and one that should be understood by electricians everywhere. Instructions on how to figure the math as well as bending.
The Math Behind Bending Conduit
- EMT Electrical Conduit Pipe Bending - the Math Behind a Conduit Bending Guide
A study of the math behind bending electrical conduit (EMT). Learn to bend conduit to any configuration desired, not merely the common bends on a conduit bender, as well as how to bend large conduit to desired configurations.
How To Bend An Offset
- A Conduit Bending Guide On How To Bend An Offset
One of the more common bends made in electrical conduit is the offset bend - this page of the comprehesive conduit bending guide describes how to bend an offset. Necessary charts and tables for multipliers and decimal to fractions are included
Bending Conduit Saddles
Bending a proper saddle in EMT is often one of the most difficult electricians will face, but there is no need for that to be. Saddles are not difficult; even the dreaded 3 point saddle is easy to make with just a couple of simple tips and some experience.
Every electrician should have their own set of hand benders, to include at a minimum a , bender for ½" EMT (the ¾" will also bend ½" rigid pipe). If possible, a one for ¾" EMT (will bend ¾" rigid as well) is also recommended even though many shops will provide this. An aluminum head is preferred for weight reasons; a long day in the field with an iron head bender can be exhausting. bender for 1" EMT
This author prefers the Greenlee brand, at least in part because they come stamped with the deduct and multipliers that are commonly used. For a beginning electrician this can be invaluable and aids in memorizing those numbers.
The links below are from Amazon, and can serve as a starting place to find and purchase your own benders. If a different brand is preferred, Amazon also carries Klein and Ideal benders.
Questions & Answers
A 1" EMT bender can be used to bend 3/4" Rigid. Do all of the deducts and multipliers that apply to the 1" EMT apply to the 3/4" Rigid?
Yes. Treat the rigid bends just as if they were on 1" EMT. Deducts and multipliers are functions of mathematics and the bender, not the type of pipe being used.
What is the trick to take bend out of the conduit?
It is next to impossible to remove any but the smallest amount of bend from a conduit. A few degrees - maybe 5 if you're lucky - is all that can be managed in most cases.
Is an offset considered one bend from point A to point B?
I guess that would depend on who is talking and what they are trying to say. Most electricians would consider the total length to be one bend, say at 30 degrees. A 4" offset at 30 degrees, for instance. An inspector will see two bends, each at 30 degrees - he will care only how many degrees of bend is present, not where it goes or how much the line has moved.
© 2010 Dan Harmon