Power cable faults are the bane of every network operator’s life, as they are costly to remedy and they often lead to major service disruptions. Faults on recently installed cables are particularly exasperating, as a reasonable expectation is that new cables will operate reliably. Sheath testing is an effective way of guarding against these premature cable failures, and it’s a regular topic for questions to our technical support team. These are a few of the most common.
Q: Surely a new cable will be reliable, so what’s the point of carrying out a sheath test?
A: If every new cable was installed without damage, it’s true that the need for sheath testing would be much reduced. But damage during installation is far from rare, and statistics show that one of the most common problems is damage to the cable sheath. Typically, this doesn’t initially affect the performance of the cable, which will usually show normal values of insulation resistance between conductors as well as between the conductors and the outer metallic shield. A damaged sheath, however, will allow the ingress of moisture and as a result of this, the condition of the cable will rapidly deteriorate, leading to early failure. Sheath tests, which are fast, easy and inexpensive to perform, allow sheath damage to be detected and corrected before cable deterioration sets in. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that sheath testing is included in the portfolio of tests that are carried out when commissioning a new cable.
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