Published on: 25th May 2021   |   Ellie Hall

Tips for keeping your cables in top condition: How to care for your cables

Fibre optic cables are vulnerable to the effects of excessive bending, pulling, twisting, crushing and other extreme conditions that are often experienced during their lifespan. It is therefore important to ensure that you handle, store, clean and service your cables regularly to maintain their optimum network performance and avoid unnecessary damage and costly repair bills.

We have put together some top tips for helping to extend the life of your cables and ensure your projects are kept on track:

1. Minimise Stress During use

Although not as fragile as often perceived, it is important to remember that fibre optic cables must be handled with care. It is essential to ensure that you avoid excessive bending, twisting or knotting whilst pulling and laying out your cable.

Be sure to pull the cables using the appropriate equipment and do not exceed the bend radius of the cable. The bend radius is the minimum radius that you can safely bend the cable with causing signal loss. Exceeding this radius can result in failure points along the cable, which will then need to be repaired.

It is also important to consider the environment in which your cables will be used in, before purchasing your cables. There are very different specification requirements for cables that will be used indoors compared to those that will be used outdoors, often in challenging conditions. Make sure you select the right cable for the purpose you intend to use it for.

Much of the damage we see to the cable assemblies coming in to us for repair arise as a result of mis-use during repeated deployment and retrieval. It is also common to see kinks and cuts on damaged cables, where other cables have been dragged across them or they’ve been caught on other objects. Dirt and dust ingress is another common issue, especially in harsh environments where the dirty conditions can pose a significant threat to your network performance. These challenges make it vitally important to select the correct cable for your project and ensure that the connectors are cleaned frequently to minimise further damage, network failures and potentially costly repairs.

2. Clean Frequently

It is often an overlooked step, but cleaning your connectors prior to every use will help to protect them for future use and extend the life of your cable assemblies. Connectors contaminated with dirt, dust or other residues are one of the most common causes of network failure. Investing a small amount of time as part of your set up routine, can help prevent time-delaying, costly fixes in the future or the risk of negatively impacting your network performance.

Many people wrongly believe that cleaning takes too much time or requires too many tools or specialist equipment. If they’ve not experienced problems in the past, then taking time to clean the connectors is often seen as time consuming inconvenience that can be put off until a later date.

We can’t stress enough the importance of proactively cleaning your connectors to prevent long term damage to both the cables and/or your equipment. The process is quick and simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. Repeated connections between dirty connectors can lead to permanent physical damage of the endface. This can then be transferred to other clean connectors when mating, resulting in further and sometimes costly repair bills.

We stock a range of fibre optic cable cleaners suitable for a variety of different connectors. The Fujikura one-click range, as the name suggests, are simple and easy to use.

Cable Cleaners

3. Store carefully

Improper storage can lead to unnecessary damage from causes such as UV, harsh weather conditions, chemical spills, humidity or heat.

Ensure dust caps are always used and are well fitted to prevent the ingress of dust, dirt or other contaminants that could damage the connectors.

Avoid compressing the cables too tightly as this can lead to damage and signal loss. Where possible, use fabric, velcro fasteners to secure the cables and connectors in place rather than zip ties.

Let’s face it, accidents happen. Whether a cable assembly has been crushed, subjected to extreme bending, broken connectors, the rats have seen it as a tasty snack, or it has been struck by lightning, there are many challenges that could result in damage. It is important to get your cables regularly checked out and serviced to ensure your network performance isn’t hindered.

Even a fibre breakage doesn’t have to be terminal, we can remove the damaged part of the cable and create two new assemblies. Alternatively, save money and recycle your old, unwanted cables by replacing the connectors with alternatives and give your assemblies a new lease of life.

Using state-of-the-art equipment, our knowledgeable team are able to inspect and detect any issues in your cable assemblies and suggest the best course of action for returning them back to working condition. Whether it’s just a quick polish or a connector replacement that is required, our highly trained team will guide you through your options and help you to decide on the best outcome.

What next?

As well as a range of standard fibre optic cables and equipment, we stock a variety of rugged, tactical fibre options that are better suited for the extreme conditions experience in harsh environments. With features such as tough, bend insensitive fibres, ruggedised connectors and armoured construction, these types of cables are perfect for use in harsh environments. Options include our ArmourLux and Neutrik portable deployable fibre range, tactical patch cables and ruggedised patch cables.

For more details on keeping your cables in top condition, please refer to Extend the Life of your Cables – The Importance of Fibre Cleaning and our Servicing & Repairs page.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to one of our friendly, knowledgeable team please do not hesitate to contact us or call us on 01488 685800.

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