How To Extend The Life of Your Electrical Wires & Cable

Posted by TPC Team on December 3, 2018

Electric wire and cable systems are the lifeline of any industrial application. If one of your cables fail — the entire system comes to a halt, leaving you with costly downtime.


trex-onics-reel-2As a busy department head in an industrial plant, you have a lot to worry about on a daily basis. Practicing some general guidelines for electric wire and cable care not only will extend the life of your cable, but can reduce downtime, decrease safety and non-conformance issues, and increase the overall efficiency of the plant.

Some common practices for proper wire & cable care include:

1: Choose an Effective Approach

  • Choose the most suitable cable for the application and its harsh environment*
  • Choose a cable size and type that will work best for the following:
    • Safety
    • Carrying capacity (ampacity)
    • Voltage drop
    • Ambient temperature
    • Mechanical strength
    • Expected performance in its environment
  • Educate maintenance personnel on cable limitations and what to inspect to reduce cable failures

2: Prevent Damage

  • During installation, avoid kinking or twisting the wire and cable
    • Kinking and twisting the cable may mechanically stress and weaken the conductors
  • Avoid tension & run-overs
  • Take note of the minimum bend radius
  • Consult electrical wire and cable provider for appropriate recommendations
  • Avoid any form of impact or crushing that may damage the jacket
  • Keep wire and cable away from any elements the application does not have to be exposed to (such as direct flame)

3: Make Cable Reel Adjustments

  • Periodically reverse cable ends to prevent one end experiencing prolonged exposure to a harsh environment, like high temperature
  • Tie cable to avoid backspooling
  • Keep proper tension
  • Note potential current overload; expect to derate** a cable if powered while on a cable reel with multiple layers
    • Account for voltage drop, if left unaccounted for it may lead to premature machine/motor failure
      • Machine can overheat

4: Make Repairs

  • Inspect cable and make repairs before the cable is damaged beyond repair
  • Remove cut or crushed cable before it leads to an unsafe condition
  • Keep spare cable handy to replace damaged cable in place of a temporary fix

5: Keep Records

  • Maintain the following records:
    • Installation date of electrical wires and cables
    • Cause of every failure:
      • Highlights exactly where your biggest problem areas occur
      • Pinpoints failure at the root of the cause
      • Helps develop a preventative maintenance plan to catch failures before they occur
    • Removal of wire and cable for repair(s)
  • Analyze wire and cable performance


Proper care of your wire and cable is imperative to reducing downtime and keeping systems running efficiently and reliably on a continuous basis. Utilizing these five general electric wire and cable guidelines can greatly help maintenance personnel and engineers alike appropriately care for all wire and cable within their respective applications.


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*Harsh Environment: Harsh environments in electric wire and cable applications can include abrasion, chemicals, extreme temperature, flexing, impact, and tension; or any combination thereof.

**When the cables are used with one or more layers wound on a reel, the ampacities shall be corrected as follows (ANSI/NEMA WC 58-2008, ICEA 5-75-381-2008):

Number of Layers  Multiplying Correction Factors
1 0.85
2 0.65
3 0.45
4 0.35

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Topics: Maintenance, Reducing Downtime, Products

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