Removing multipair cable from old conduit

Feb. 1, 2011
A small crew, common tools and some elbow grease can get the job done.

A small crew, common tools and some elbow grease can get the job done.



Old 25- or 50-pair cable often sticks tightly to the inside of old conduit and cannot be removed by pulling. For this reason, many users have abandoned the use of the conduit.


The stuck cables often can be freed by a twisting motion, rather than by a straight pull. An effective twisting motion can be achieved by using a carpenter's brace-without a bit-and channel locks. This procedure requires at least two people and preferably three.


1. Secure the free end of a single cable in the carpenter's brace.

2. Near the conduit opening, clench the cable in two places with the channel locks.

3. Slowly turn the brace clockwise while, at the same time, a second person lifts and twists the cable with one set of channel locks.

4. A third person should use the second set of channel locks to hold the cable, while the second person repositions the first set. Always keep the twist tension on the cable with at least one set of channel locks.

5. The process may take some time, but the cable will eventually break free from the side of the conduit. Do not attempt to remove the cable until you can pull it relatively easily.

6. Repeat the procedure for each of the remaining cables.

While the brace twists the cable, one set of channel locks is used to lift and twist the cable. The other set of channel locks is used to hold the cable while the first set is being repositioned.

Editor's note: This classic cabling installer tip was published back in 1998. We chose to run it again now because we believe it still works. In fact, it may be more applicable now than ever, considering that since this tip's original publication the topic of abandoned cable has been addressed by code-making bodies. Perhaps you have a better way to remove old cable from a conduit-or perform any task in the realm of cable pulling, routing, termination, management or removal. We'd like to publish your tips in our magazine. Please email them to our editor: [email protected].

Online tool calculates cable-pulling lubricant needs

An online calculator available from American Polywater allows cable installers to determine how much cable-pulling lubricant they will need for a job based on the sizes and lengths of conduits through which the cable will be pulled. The company offers two such calculator tools, one for jobs with multiple cable pulls and one for a single cable pull. American Polywater offers a variety of cable-pulling lubricants.

Users of the calculator can choose to use metric or English conduit sizes and lengths. Depending on the choice, the amount of lubricant needed will be displayed in either liters or gallons.

The calculator is available at

More CIM Articles
Past CIM Articles

Sponsored Recommendations

Cat 6A Frequently Asked Questions

April 29, 2024
At CommScope we know about network change and the importance of getting it right. Conclusion Category 6A cabling and connectivity.

Revolutionize Your Network with Propel Fiber Modules

Oct. 24, 2023
Four sizes of interchangeable Propel fiber modules provide the breadth of capabilities for virtually any configuration.

Elevate Your Network with Propel High-Density Panels

Oct. 24, 2023
Propel Series Sliding Fiber Optic Panels

Constellation™ - Explore power and data products

Oct. 24, 2023
Discover the Essentials for Building Your Power and Data System!