Ordering the wrong tracer wire products can be an expensive mistake in more ways than one.

Incorrect orders mean the wrong products show up at the job site. This can delay installations, waste time, and cost thousands of dollars. In some cases, incorrect orders may need to be scrapped because the insulation and jackets used to protect the conductors aren’t recyclable, resulting in other sunken costs.

Before ordering several thousand feet of tracer wire, take a few minutes to think about the application. It isn’t all about the length and wire gauge – several other factors can determine the final order. To make things easier, we’ve outlined a list of questions to ask before placing a tracer wire order with Kris-Tech or any other wire manufacturer.

With these questions in hand, you can reduce the risk of an incorrect order and keep projects running smoothly and on schedule.

1. What type of conductors do you need?

Depending on the application, the type of wire you use can go a long way. Either Copper Clad Steel (CCS) or solid copper tracer wire is an excellent all-around choice for finding buried cables and pipes. Copper clad steel is stronger than standard solid copper wire and has an equal conductivity. It also has more tensile strength than solid copper, making it a great choice for directional boring and pipe bursting.

Copper Clad Steel is designed for difficult applications. It has up to a 2,500-pound break load for directional drilling jobs and offers a 4,700-pound break load for pipe bursting applications.

2. What gauge wire do you need? What color? How thick does the insulation need to be?

A wire’s gauge, measured in AWG, refers to its diameter. Gauge size can also determine its tensile strength and overall breaking limit. The lower the gauge, the stronger the wire and the higher its break strength.

Colors also play a vital role in understanding what type of tracer wire is needed for what application. Yellow wire, for example, is commonly used with gas lines, while blue is reserved for water. For a complete list of tracer wire colors and their uses, Kris-Tech follows the APWA color code system.

Don’t forget to keep in mind insulation thickness as well. Tracer wire is typically buried underground, where it will encounter water, abrasive materials, corrosive materials, and other hazards. The thicker the insulation is on the tracer wire, the better it can endure damage without exposing the conductor inside.

3. How strong does the tracer wire need to be?

Tracer wire can be broken down into several options based on its strength, application, and insulation thickness. For reference, here are several types of wire Kris-Tech carries:

  • High Strength (HS – Open Cut, CCS HDPE or LLDPE, 30 mil)
  • Strain Relief (SR – Open Cut LLDPE, 30 mil)
  • Extra-High Strength (EHS – Directional Drilling HDPE, 45 mil)
  • Pipe Bursting (7×7 49-strand HDPE CCS, 50 mil)
  • PE or UL, PE30 or 45 Solid Copper

Depending on how strong the wire needs to be and how it will be used during a job, your wire could be over-spec’d. For example, a project may spec in HDPE tracer wire when LLDPE is sufficient for open cut/open trench work and could be more applicable for the job.

4. What is the application?

Standard solid copper tracer wire or copper clad steel are excellent choices for open cut or open trench projects (when tracer wire can be placed along the pipe or cable as it’s laid) but won’t work for heavy-duty jobs like directional drilling and pipe bursting. For projects requiring high tensile strength or break loads, copper clad steel would be a better choice.

5. How much wire do you need?

Big jobs require a lot of wire, but Kris-Tech is ready to quickly deliver the amount you need. Tracer wire spools come in 500-, 1,000- and 2,500-foot lengths. Other lengths are available upon request.

6. Will you need any accessories?

From connectors and ground rods to test stations, marking tape, and spacers, ensure you have everything you need to get the job done correctly. Kris-Tech offers the “Total Tracer Wire Solution” to create a one-stop-shop experience.

7. What is the distributor’s contact information?

Kris-Tech sells its products through distribution, so be sure to get the contact information for the person we need to coordinate with for your order.

8. Where is the wire going to be shipped?

This does not need to be a specific distributor’s location, though that is entirely acceptable. Your wire can also be shipped directly to the job site if that is more convenient.

9. When do you need the wire?

Depending on how quickly you need your wire delivered, you have several options. If the wire is in stock, you can receive your order in a few days. Custom-made orders requiring a lot of footage will need to be created, so you can receive a partial order to start the job and have the rest delivered once it’s ready.

If you know when the project is slated to start, you could also work within the manufacturer’s stated lead times to get all the wire at one time.

Accurate Orders, Every Time

Every project is different. However, they all need the same basic information to ensure the wire you order is what you need to get the work done.

The next time you need to place a tracer wire (or any other type of wire) order, keep these questions in mind, and your ordering process will be as smooth as possible!

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