Besides keeping everything neat and organized, managing cabling properly also results in a safer home or work environment. Cables can present a hazard if not properly managed, so it’s essential to organize and position wires appropriately to ensure safety. Below are some basic cable management tips that will allow you to keep your home or workplace safe and tidy.
Ensure Correct Measurements
One of the more critical cable management tips involves measuring to determine the exact lengths required to ensure you have enough wiring. The following four devices allow you to run and protect cabling lengthwise along surfaces:
- Conduit protects cabling over longer runs as a tube, pipe, or trough, fully enclosing wires to protect from various elements that can damage them, including modifications that guard against fire and water. They include metallic, non-metallic, flexible, and inflexible varieties.
- Surface raceways route electric cabling discreetly through an enclosed conduit along a surface to protect wiring against physical damage. You can cut these to fit the wiring length and even paint them to match a room’s décor.
- Wire ducts protect cabling from debris, dust, and other contaminants by containing wiring in metal troughs, similar to raceways. Installed via drilling or adhesives, they allow you to organize the wiring and pull it through and separate it.
- Wire looms are flexible plastic wraps that protect wiring from physical damage, including from environmental conditions such as sun, rain, and snow. Coming in various diameters and with pre-cut slits, they allow you to quickly and easily bundle cables without tangling them.
These methods for leading and protecting cabling also help you ensure that you won’t need to stop in the middle of a project to source additional wiring.
Regardless of which method you utilize to protect your cabling, it’s important to remember not to stuff too many cables into a wire loom, cable tray, or other cabling protectors. Along with the risks of crushing wires, damaging insulation, and signal leakage, overstuffing power cables leads to overheating and risks starting a fire. Pay attention to manufacturers’ guidelines regarding capacity and measure the diameter of the wires you’re bundling together and use sleeving that has a slightly larger diameter. You can also use tray systems to run power or data cables under the floor or overhead, while ramp systems keep people from tripping over cables in high traffic areas.
Poorly positioned cabling presents a tripping hazard, particularly for younger children and pets. Keeping wiring up and away will create a safer environment and prevent potential incidents of strangulation or electrocution. Adhesive wire clips allow you an inexpensive way to route wiring around door frames and furniture. Simultaneously, containers that encase excess cabling, such as Cable Turtles, keep extra lengths out of reach.
Tightening Cable Ties
Cable ties are one of the oldest means of managing cabling. They’re also easy to use and inexpensive. At the same time, you want to keep wiring fastened together, although it’s important not to make them too tight. Doing so can inhibit signals in fiber optic cabling and damage insulation. Cable tie guns and other tools that help tighten wiring and cut off the ends on these ties help keep cables safely out of the way. You can instead use cable ties that have been specifically designed to stop automatically once they’ve reached the perfect tension.
One of the more basic cable management tips for floor-based wiring involves covering it. Anyone who’s run an extension cord through a heavily trafficked area understands how cables have a way of snagging feet. Here are three ways to do that:
- Cover kits provide a low profile, rounded covering over wiring that keeps cabling enclosed while allowing you to secure the covering with double-sided tape. Some kits have Velcro adhesive for carpeted areas.
- Rubber ducts protect cords while also providing slip-resistant surfaces that can be custom-fit to reduce tripping risk.
- Cable covers designed explicitly for carpeted areas allow you to run data or power cabling and floors with looped carpeting.
Businesses especially should pay attention to such risks, which can lead to trip-and-fall accidents and even lawsuits. Covering cabling even in lower-traffic areas not only helps keep people safe, but it also lowers wear and tear, preventing issues regarding networking or fire hazards from damaged wiring.
While cables are meant to have a certain amount of flexibility, bending them too much can result in damage. This is particularly so when managing fiber optic or other networking cables, which lose signal when twisted beyond their bend radius. Fiber optic cables used in networks come as either single-mode or multi-mode wiring, the former designed to move information over longer distances while the latter is better suited for shorter applications.
Modern electronic gadgets inevitably require charging. Cell phones, portable video games, tablets, and other handheld personal computing devices tend to congregate and clutter areas like bedside tables and kitchen counters. To prevent entangling charging cords so that such devices can be safely charged, you can utilize power stations that allow users to organize and charge multiple devices together. Often these also allow you to conceal excessive cord length to reduce the chance of snagging.
For anyone who uses MP3 players, iPods, or even their smartphones for playing music, you understand how easy it is for earbud cords to get tangled into knots. Manufacturers have developed compact plastic cases that allow the user to wind cords around the outside, while protecting the earpieces in an inner chamber. This prevents both damage to the earpieces as well as tangling.
Though a simple cable management tip, one of the more important involves labeling which wires go where. Labeling allows you to isolate, troubleshoot, and maintain cabling while enabling you to reconnect them more easily. Many label printers can keep track of what each wire does and where it should lead.
When dealing with computer and network cabling, sometimes it’s easiest to drill access holes to where you need them. These holes often are rough, regardless of whether the material is metal, plastic, or wood, and these edges can damage insulation and potentially lead to a fire hazard. Use grommets to create smooth pass-throughs for these cables. Not only does it look better and provide a more professional appearance, but it will also reduce the chance of damage to your cabling.
All these cable management tips help you maintain a neat and organized workplace or home while protecting the wiring from wear and tear. Even more importantly, these tips help reduce or prevent hazards, making for a safer home or workplace. M.M. Newman Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of Heli-Tube® spiral cable wrap, a versatile expandable plastic cable harness available in a wide range of sizes, colors, and materials.