Plastic electrical conduit is piping that covers wires as they run from one point to another. The plastic electrical conduit is also called PVC electrical conduit because of its similarities to PVC plumbing pipes, though the electrical PVC is gray, not white. Plastic electrical conduit has its advantages: it can withstand a large number of corrosive agents, it is lighter than metal conduit, it is easily cut, and can be joined with a little bit of glue.
Sometimes, you will have a situation where you need to shape the conduit to accommodate an uncommon wiring route. If you can’t find PVC parts that will allow you to create the shape that you need, you can simply bend the electrical conduit with a heat application.
Step 1 - Check for PVC Parts
Before you start heating PVC conduit, see if you can create the shape that you need with individual parts. You can find a large variety of PVC parts at your local home improvement or hardware store. You’ll be able to find elbows and other parts that may allow you to create your particular shape without the effort of heating and bending the PVC.
If the PVC parts available at your local home improvement store don’t fit the bill, follow the steps below to bend your PVC electrical conduit.
Step 2 - Create a Template
If you need to shape more than one tube of PVC conduit or if you need to create a shape that is detailed, you should first create a template with the electrical metal tubing. By creating a template with the electrical metal tubing you can replicate the bends in the PVC with no problem.
Step 3 - Heat the Conduit
You will need to use a heat gun to heat the PVC electrical conduit in the area that you want to bend. You shouldn’t apply the heat to a very small area because it could damage the conduit. Work in larger areas to heat the PVC. It is only going to bend once it is hot.
Do not use a torch to heat the PVC. It will become too hot and can cause damage to the conduit. A heat gun will supply enough heat for the job without the chances of easily damaging the conduit. If you do apply too much heat, you will have to get a new tube.
Never heat the conduit with wires in place. This is not only dangerous but can also damage the wires.
Step 4 - Bend the Conduit
Once the conduit is hot you can bend it into the desired shape. You should wear gloves when doing this because the hot plastic can cause serious burns to your hands. You can even leave the gloves in a bucket of hot water as you heat the conduit. When it is time to bend it, simply put on the wet gloves and bend the PVC. Place the gloves back in the water if you will need to make another bend.
If you need to make more than one bend in a single tube of PVC conduit, you will simply repeat the process.
Step 5 - Cool the Conduit
Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it handy. After you have bent the PVC electrical conduit, you can spray the tubing to cool it. Otherwise, you will have to hold the PVC in place while it cools.