Substation Conduit Sealing: What does this Job Entail?

November 13, 2018

Electrical substations switch and transform dangerously high voltages. That's why they're surrounded by barbed wire and kept under lock and key. Elsewhere, even though the structure is secured, water and shelter-seeking critters are looking for other points of entry. They push between subterranean cables, through the conduits that allow the cables ingress, and cause damage to sensitive high-voltage switchgear. At least that's what would happen if the conduits weren't sealed.

Substation Sealing Solutions

A steel mesh or metal grating is likely to stop a persistent small mammal. For smaller animals and insects, steel wool or polymer foams offer an effective answer to the problem. Only, some rodents are alarmingly intelligent. They tear away the foam, eat around the steel wire, and skitter their way into switchgear rooms. Some sneaky rats have even been known to make little homes out of the sealing material. No, for a contemporary conduit sealing solution, something more effective is mandated. Applied by tubular application guns, special silicone sealants stop animals and liquids.

The Benefits of Silicone Sealants

The compound is discharged from the gun as a putty-like compound. It fills every crevice until a seamless wall forms around and between the electrical cables. Fire resistant and waterproof, the silicone mass cures to create an impenetrable seal. Extruded foams also work in such situations. Their orange-yellow outlines are often seen bulging from the ends of substation conduits, but this outmoded sealing approach is rapidly being replaced by advanced silicone compounds, which can be formulated to fit any application.

Optioning Mechanically-Based Substation Seals

Special wall inserts are available with multiple cable apertures built into their access panels. The duct seals come in single-port access profiles, single-row variants, and in double-row or more versions that facilitate the passage of cable arrays. Indeed, modern substation access systems have adopted a modular build, so they can be bought straight out of a specialist catalogue. Fitted with multiple cable apertures, with tube plug-in sockets, or bayonet capped inserts, the cabling is then further sealed. Waterproofed, that feature is either applied courtesy of a silicone application gun or by use of a number of heat shrink sleeves.

Down in a substation trench, there's a flurry of activity taking place. There are tubes and gaskets and sealing systems being applied. Water is the main threat, so shrink sleeves and silicone pastes are flowing into cable filled conduits. Embracing a modular way of getting the job done, special waterproof fittings are further bolstering the seals. They work in concert with the putty and silicone, the foam and rubber gaskets, to form a waterproof conduit seal. And, being waterproof, no animal can get inside, nor can any switchgear oil get outside to impact the environment.

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