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You’ve no doubt heard the expression that says something like, success is in the details, or detail counts. This expression may or may not be true depending on the situation. One person’s requirement for adherence to detail is another’s aggravation and waste of time. Who’s right?

How do you decide on which side of that dilemma you come down on? The answer may well lie in the subject of codes and standards.

In the cabling industry there are both codes and standards. Very generally speaking, codes such as the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, now in its 25th edition published in 2012 sets out certain requirements for how high voltage electrical cabling is to be installed in any building in Ontario. This code and the adherence to its dictates are enforced by law. If the code is not met during construction, pre-occupancy inspections will ferret out non-compliant installations and no occupancy permits will be issued. Code shortcoming must be adequately addressed. Not to code? Your building project is stalled. It’s about as simple as that.

It’s a completely different world in the wild west of telecommunications cabling. No such codes exist. Prior to the early days of Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) deregulation several years ago Bell, Rogers and other well-known service providers were the go to businesses for virtually all telecommunications infrastructure. Since de-regulation virtually anybody who knew anything about cabling installation was permitted to do an installation. As is often the case, price was a prime consideration as lowest price for the installation generally won the day. The CRTC, perhaps unwittingly ushered in the era of the “trunk slammers” who showed up at your residence or place of business to hook up your cable TV, phone or internet service. Quality be damned, let’s just get that installation done within the aggravating 4-hour window and move onto the next install.

And while no codes dictate the quality of communications cabling installations, there are in fact standards that apply to this huge area of cabling. I use the term “apply” here very loosely; better to say there are standards that are relevant. The word apply infers that standards are actually adopted, and as standards such as those written by organizations such ANSI http://www.ansi.org/ , TIA http://www.tiaonline.org/ , BICSI https://www.bicsi.org/  and others are not mandatory, many installers don’t bother applying the standards to their work.

Back to the details. The picture shown on the left was recently taken at an installation requiring telecommunications cabling.

The blue Cat5e cable (1) is passing through a conduit and enters the building through a manufactured “L” joint. The faceplate has been removed to show the cabling. Will this cable work? Maybe. Is it correctly installed? Absolutely not. While it’s not easily seen here, the cable passes over a very sharp edge (2) as the conduit from inside the building attaches to the junction box that joins the two pieces of conduit forming the right angle bend. Why is this a problem? Two reason: 1- as cabling is pulled over this sharp edge the outer protective sheath on the cabling will be compromised, possibly exposing the twisted pair beneath. 2- A right angle bend acts as a break on the free flow of data along the cable. This is even more important in fibre optic cabling than in copper cabling, but generally speaking a knowledgeable contractor, one who is familiar with the details in standards such as ANSI/TIA 568C.0-.3 would not do an installation like this. There are thousands of these sub-standard installations done daily. It’s cheap and quick…and wrong…at least according to standards that should apply.

 

What should have been used in this case is a conduit bending device, similar to the one shown on the right. The resulting conduit bend will be a gentle curve allowing smooth passage of the cable through the conduit with no sharp edges. This method takes minimally more time, and may be slightly more costly, but even that’s debateable by the time you add in the costs of cutting additional conduit, screwing on faceplates etc.

 

There is another problem on the same installation, highlighted in the yellow circle. The contractor has neglected to adequately plug, or “firestop” the hole allowing the conduit to penetrate the building. Adequate fire stopping of all wall penetrations is a subject covered by law. This a must. A contractor who neglects this important installation consideration is flouting the law. For more information on the importance and techniques on fire stopping there’s an excellent presentation from BICSI on the subject.

https://www.bicsi.org/pdf/presentations/europe/firestopping%20considerations.pdf

If the execution portion of a written specification governing this kind of work is done correctly, likely by an RCDD (Registered Communications Distribution Designer) and is adequately inspected for compliance to the specification, these problem can be mitigated.

Yes, success is in the details and adherence to the standards that apply is an integral to a top notch installation.

Is adherence to standards and quality installation important? Only to those who know it should be.

For more information on codes and standards please feel free to reach out to us at http://www.fancomni.com/