Filed under: Electrical, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
No, Burt Ward never exclaimed that one during his years as Robin, and yes, it is kind of a weird way to kick off a blog post. But cut me a break – what else was going to pop into my head when I found out about Ideal Industries’ Duct Seal?
Duct Seal is a soft, putty-like compound that can be molded, squished and worked into just about any small gap in flashing or heating/air conditioning ducts, and around pipes, conduit and electrical boxes. It helps stop air leakage, makes surfaces smooth and void-free, and pretty much saves the day, just like the Dynamic Duo.
Because it’s ultra pliable, Duct Seal can take almost any form you need it to; you can work it into a low-profile sheet to patch cracks in ductwork, or mold it into more of plug-type shape to fill in the holes and gaps that are usually left around electrical boxes or pipe penetrations. Just work it into place and smooth the surface: problem solved.
Unlike some other filling materials, Duct Seal never hardens, so if you ever need to undo your work, the compound can be easily removed without you having to hack or chip away at it, or otherwise make a mess. But here’s the really cool thing: even though Duct Deal stays soft, it’s actually paintable, so you can match it to your walls for a seamless finish.
The Duct Seal formula is completely nontoxic, and unlike many other chemical-based repair materials on the market, you can handle it without gloves or fear of skin irritation/chemical absorption. It’s also completely non-corrosive, so it’s safe to use on both plastics and metals. Ooooh, and one more thing: Duct Seal also has a relatively high flash point (590°F), so it’s helpful in preventing electrical fires.
While it may not be a caped crusader, Duct Seal is a multitasker that’s really worth keeping in your toolkit. Because it’s able to run the gamut between HVAC, plumbing and electrical, it can save you from having to keep a stock of different tapes and filler compounds on hand, and unlike some of the stickier products out there, it’s actually easy to redo if you need to make changes.
So Bam!!! Pow!!! Splat!!! Take that, holey ductwork.
Filed under: Cable Pulling, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
I’ve never thought of simple, innocent conduit as being gross. It keeps cables safe, takes them from one place to the next… and that’s it, right? Not if you also factor in the possibility that something other than cables and air could weasel its way into a stretch of conduit. Dirt and general debris (annoying, but not too terrible). Sticky cable lubricant residue (gross). And then of course, the really fun stuff like dead insects and (gulp) animal droppings (a “@*&$#*%^!!!!” would not be out of line here). “Nasty” would be the understatement of the decade.
Now that you know the truth about what could be lurking inside your conduit, the big question is how to get it out. It’s not like you can stick a pressure washing wand down that stuff – but that would be nice, wouldn’t it? Luckily, Ideal Industries got creative and came up with a very cool little thing called a foam carrier, a plug-like cleaning tool that’s attached to a pull line or cable, and maneuvered through a length of conduit – in one end, and out the other. As it’s pulled through, the foam carrier gently scrapes out any nasty bits that are clinging to the conduit’s interior, leaving you with a clean, unobstructed run of duct to send new cables down.
Being made of foam, the carriers are mildly flexible, so they can navigate smoothly through bends and around corners. You can pull them by hand, or even better, use a mechanical blower or vacuum system to send them down the line. Want to cut time in half and clean your conduit while you’re running new cables? Each foam carrier features a metal center rod, which is equipped with hooks at each end, perfect for attaching to, say, cabling. Once the cables and carrier are attached, just pull the whole assembly at once, and you’ll have freshly-pulled wires in crud-free conduit. That’s what I’m talking about.
Filed under: Network Products, Tools and Cases
I recently hopped onto an airplane to go visit family, and as I got ready to leave, I realized how frighteningly calculated my carry-on packing and preparations have become. It’s a pretty serious case of TSA-induced OCD. There’s the clear cosmetic bag filled with 3oz (or smaller) bottles, the cell phone, the camera, and the ID and boarding pass, all strategically positioned in the oversized handbag in such a way that they can’t fall out or get swiped, but are ready to whip out (in the order needed) as soon as I get to the security checkpoint. Forget the people who bumble with their shoes, belts and laptops – I have a flight to catch, and I haven’t been sent to the x-ray machine yet.
Not to go on about my travel-induced neuroses; the point is that when you have to take your show on the road, things are always more complicated, and it can be a little disorienting when you have to repeatedly juggle your stuff. It’s one thing to do that when you travel home for the holidays, but when your job depends on it every single day, well… you’ve gotta have a way to keep your act together. Especially if you’re an on-the-go phone or network installer who works on the road, and has to truck around all of the tools and parts needed to tackle each job.
That’s why I really like the IDEAL Telemaster Kit for RJ11 and RJ45 cable terminations. Whether you’re dealing with RJ11 or RJ45, this all-in-one kit has a multipurpose crimp tool that works for 1, 2 and 3-pair RJ11 plugs, and 4-pair RJ45s, as well as assorted stranded modular plugs (45 total) that come separated into their own compartments, so you never have to guess which kind you’re grabbing for. One of my favorite things about the plug compartments is that they make it easy to keep track of inventory – they let you see, at a glance, how many of a certain plug type you have left, which definitely beats scrounging around the bottom of your tool kit for just one more RJ45 connector.
It’s happened to the best of us: you need to change an outlet or swap out a light fixture, but when you run to the breaker box to shut off the circuit you’ll be working on, confused head scratching ensues. Maybe the breaker labels are a little too old and worn to read, or you just can’t make out the chicken-scratch of the last people who lived there. Whatever the reason is, your lack of breaker ID leaves you using the old trial-and-error method, which is no way to locate an electrical circuit. When it comes to electricity, Trial and Error are not our friends – they’ll either have you turning off all the wrong breakers before you find the right one (have fun resetting every digital clock in your house), or otherwise thinking you flipped the right one the first time around… until you find out (the hard way) shortly thereafter that that’s not the case (ouch).
Thankfully, Ideal Industries is in tune with Mystery Circuit Breaker woes, and has come to the rescue with an extremely cool Digital Breaker Finder. This two-piece locator is super-simple to use, and will cut out all of the guessing and time-wasting that you usually deal with on your quest to find the right breaker. Just plug the transmitter into the receptacle that you plan to work on, and then mosey to the breaker box with the receiver in hand. Run the receiver over the breakers until the green LEDs flash, and you’re in business. Too easy.
I realize that I’m recommending this from a consumerish, home owner standpoint, but this is a total must-have for professional electricians and HVAC technicians as well. Walking into strange houses and decoding their individual breaker situations day in and day out is even more annoying than deciphering one’s own circuit breaker fiasco, so toss one of these breaker finder sets into your tool bag – the faster that you knock one job out, the sooner you can get onto the next. And lowering your risk of shock never hurts either.