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How to Repair Fiber Optic Cables

How to Repair Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optic cables are durable after the underground installation. However, some things still damage them. And that is why the words "backhoe fades" are synonymous with fiber optic. This technical term means that someone cut the cable while using a backhoe. Some animals that move underground, especially moles, bite and damage the fiber optic cables. Finding the point of tear or break is complex, especially when an animal is a culprit. Fortunately, the damage can be repaired using the following steps.

1. Finding the tear

Finding the tear is the first step by a fiber optic technician after suspicion of a tear. Technicians use an optical time-domain reflectometer or OTDR. It is a device that functions like radar when technicians connect it to a fiber-optic cable. It sends light down the cable, and it reflects the device after encountering a break. The reflection is like words telling a technician how far the tear is down the line. Digging up the cable starts when OTDR pinpoints as the site breaks into a fiber optic cable.

2. Prepare the fiber optic for repair

After digging, prepare the cable for repair by stripping about 9 feet of cable using a cable rip cord. The peeling involves gently peeling back a jacket to expose fiber-optic tubes inside. Other steps to prepare the cable are:

  • Clean the cable gel with a gel remover
  • Cut away any sheath or yarn
  • Separate fiber tubes

The peeling should not cause further damage to the strength member for it to hold the cable after splicing.

3. Repairing the fiber optic

The process to repair starts at this point. You can do it by using a mechanical or fusion splice. Either of them requires trimming the damaged ends of the fiber optic cable with a fiber cleaver. The fusion splice is superior since its signal loss is less than 0.1 decibels. The insertion loss for a mechanical connection is less than 0.5 decibels. It ends with careful splicing of the cables back together.

4. Testing and burying the fiber optic cable

You cannot send words that the repair is a success before running tests to ensure that the mechanical or fusion splice solved the problem. If it is successful, you can bury the fiber optic cable back to the ground for reuse.​

Repairing a fiber optic cable is not simple as it sounds and is a job for professional technicians. JCOMM can help you from installation to ongoing support when it comes to your fiber optic system. Give us a call today to get started!

By JCOMM 9-17-2021