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Installing duct banks is an important part of connecting various types of utilities. Duct banks offer essential protection to wires or cables so that the utilities installed aren’t damaged and will stand the test of time. They are crucial when installing utilities and require a process with several steps to be followed to put them in place. Duct banks need to be installed safely and efficiently so that utility cables can follow.

What Is a Duct Bank?

A duct bank (or sometimes conduit bank) is a protective system for utility wires to keep them safe underground. It is made from PVC conduits, which are then protected further by being encased in concrete. Duct banks are used to protect utility wires such as those used for electricity or telecommunications. A duct bank might be used to provide protection over a short distance, but it can also be used for longer distances, too. Many public facilities or larger buildings may require extensive duct bank systems for the amount of underground cables they require. Single-family homes are less likely to need duct banks, but buildings such as schools, hospitals, office buildings, or data centers are likely to require them.

Duct banks protect cables from weather damage, corrosion, extreme temperatures, and more. The reinforced concrete covers the PVC conduits to deliver this protection. The system also allows for easy replacement of any of the cables. Access to the duct bank is gained through utility structures or on the surface, where they can be accessed through vertical bends in the piping.

How Duct Banks Work

Duct banks are intended to reduce the amount of maintenance work that may be required on utility cables. When they are protected from strain, the elements, earthquakes, and other problems, they can last a lot longer. Cables are also protected from each other when housed in a duct bank, which prevents cables from touching each other. This seperation also allows cables and wires to be organized more easily. Duct banks enable them to be grouped by their purpose or where they need to go. The conduits are used to start organizing cables and the duct bank allows them to be organized even further.

Separate duct banks can be added for different types of utilities. There can be one duct bank for telecommunications and another for electrical cables or data cables. This organization makes it easier for changes to be made to these utilities without having to disturb any of the others.

Ultimately, duct banks make it a lot easier to manage underground cables. New cables can be installed or replaced faster, safer, and with less resources in a range of environments.

Duct Bank Installation and Construction Methods

Like anything else involved in construction, duct banks need to be installed in the correct way. Proper installation helps to ensure the durability of the duct bankand provides the intended protection. Duct bank installation requires specialized knowledge and should be performed by skilled and experienced contractors.

When carrying out trench and bedding preparation, it’s essential to make sure working conditions are safe. The area needs to be stable and offer structural support for the duct bank. It’s essential for conduits to be aligned and joints cemented, with steel reinforcement placed properly and concrete sufficient for the requirements of the project.

There are different methods that can be used to construct and install duct banks. One method is stick-built or cast-in-place, which is typically a long process.

  1. The trench is dug and shored up.
  2. PVC conduits and spacers are installed.
  3. Steel reinforcement is cut, bent, and installed.
  4. Forms are built before concrete is placed around the conduits.
  5. The concrete cures until it’s strong enough for the forms to be removed.

Another installation option is to use prefabrication. Conduit assemblies can be prefabricated off-site, which saves time with on-site construction. After the trench has been dug, prefabricated elements such as conduit skids, racks, and stub-ups can be installed together with steel reinforcement. After this has been completed, the concrete can then be poured. This process can be faster compared to the traditional method, but it can still take time to complete the final stage of ordering and pouring the concrete, as well as waiting for it to cure.

Hire a professional utility company

Duct banks are essential when installing utilities of various kinds. They provide vital protection that delivers a range of excellent benefits. Expert contractors like those here at Muller, Inc. should be employed  to install duct banks and get the right results. Contact our expert team today at 703-560-4040 or visit our website to request an estimate or learn more about duct bank installation or repair.