Electrical install help—tightest ‘S’ bend in EMT conduit?

I am using ½" EMT in an unfinished basement wherever my wiring leaves the ceiling and moves down the poured concrete wall. At one spot, I have to make a very tight S-bend. First, the EMT needs to travel vertically behind a 4" drain pipe (which is about 1" away from the wall), then move perpendicular to the wall for 1¾", then return parallel to the wall. The pipe it’s travelling behind is about 1½" above where the EMT needs to bend away from the wall.

To help make my description clear, I posted a crude drawing to Imgur. In case that’s not clear, the gray rectangles are the vertical wall I’m putting the EMT on, the gray circle is the pipe in cross-section (it runs along the wall), the blue is regular EMT, and the green is where the S-bend needs to go.

I have a conduit bender, but I can barely make an offset, let alone ones that need to start and finish in such a tight vertical space. I have some prefab connectors, but a pair of 90-degree bends would stick out too far, and a prefab offset wouldn’t come out far enough.

Do they make prefab S-bends similar to what I need? If so, what keywords am I missing when I search? If not, is this the kind of thing I can call an electrician for and ask to stop by his shop? If so, is there a better way to describe what I need than the above?

Am I missing any other options? If necessary, I can route around the issue, but because the pipe runs the length of the wall, that won’t be a minor change.


You can buy S bends, but I don’t know if there’s any thing with that sharp of a transition. There are flexible EMT conduits also.

A trick I used when I was learning how to bend an offset was to bend it more in the middle of the pipe and then cut it to where I needed it. Saying “Okay, I need an offset exactly 17 inches away from this box” is tough when you’re still learning how to use a pipe bender" but it’s not that hard to just make the offset around the 24 inch mark then line up the pipe a cut a few inches off. It’s a waste of pipe, but it’s not like you’re re-wriring your entire house. You’re gonna waste a few dollars on the project, not $150 on a huge job.

That might work for you. Make an offset somewhere in the pipe, slide it in then cut the pipe to length. Then the only thing you have to worry about is bending the pipe around the drain and not where to actually put the bend.

Also, get a few chunks of pipe and make some mistakes. It’s okay.

The other option you have is to put a small junction box on the ledge.
I bet this one would work perfectly.

Do you have space to finagle it in there without it touching the pipe, you don’t want it rubbing every time something moves.

Can the EMT move horizontally along the wall, i.e. in or out of the plane of your picture? So below the pipe and ledge, the vertical drop of EMT would be shifted several inches left or right of the vertical drop of EMT above the pipe. Then you could use a gentler bend in the EMT.

Just a thought - could you not chip a bit of the sharp corner away? Just enough to smoothe out the bend.

A box is the best bet, as it will relieve two problems: flattening the conduit on such a short bend and the difficulty of pulling wires through same. Code only allows you (IIRC) 180 degrees of bends in any given run of conduit. Another solution (if this is an exposed run) would be to use condulets. They come in different configurations, so make sure you get two that when installed will allow you to access the openings.

I can reroute, but am hoping to find a less PITA solution. If it helps clear things up a bit, here is a front-facing drawing (I didn’t want to get bogged down in details in the OP, but like other technical things knowing what’s important and what’s not is an art).

The basement wall is poured concrete. I attached 2x3 furring strips to it and hung pegboard across the strips (that’s the white-dotted rectangle). The yellow squiggle is my 12-gauge Romex running between the ceiling joists. It theoretically enters a box (the grey) and changes to THHN. EMT leaves the box, runs down the wall behind the drainpipe (maybe a foot), then I want it to come away from the concrete wall and onto the to of my pegboard. It will then make an easy turn to the right and enter a power strip. The runs inside the EMT should be fairly small, just two to three feet in each direction.

As far as buying s-bends, what do I search under? The closest I find are either offsets or right angles. The former is too slight, the latter too large. The condulets might work; I’ll look into exact measurements later.

I can continue to mangle pipe and learn bending. If I do so, I will tell you all ahead of time so you can buy stock. Zenbeam’s suggestion of moving down the wall and bob++'s suggestion to take out part of the wall might make things work.
I’m not exactly sure how using the box fits into things. The box plus a pre-fab 90 degree elbow still puts too much room. Or are there boxes that can mount on the concrete wall that will protrude over the edge of my furring strips?

Will condulets not work either? If you mount them so the short ends are facing each other, they take up very little space. Then you just cut a very short piece of EMT to connect them. If you can’t access the openings on the sides of the LB or LR, then that could be a problem, of course.

Oh yes, I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer–by “The condulets might work; I’ll look into exact measurements later” I meant I wanted to check out their size relative to where I want things to go, see how they fit, figure out what LL and LR types were, which is best for EMT, etc.

ALso, I was downstairs earlier eyeing the conduit bender and watching a handful of Youtube tutorials again… it may just be time to invest in an EMT manufacturer.

I’m lazy about such things. I’d put a box at either end, and buy a 1-2 foot length of flexible conduit to go between them. (You can get fittings that connect the EMT directly to the flexible conduit, but they are more expensive than a couple of standard boxes.)

Your turn may be too tight even for standard flexible conduit, though.

In which case, stretch it vertically. Have the EMT coming along the wall a foot or two higher than the EMT on the other side of the pipe & corner. Then the flexible conduit attaches to the high box, runs behind the oioe and a foot or two downward alongside it, and connects to the box for the lower EMT. By doing this, you should be able to get the flexible conduit to bend around this sharp corner.

:smack: I read your post three times and didn’t see that sentence. LL, LR, LF, etc. is just the configuration for which side of the outlet body the opening is on. If you hold a condulet like a pistol and the opening is on the left, it’s an LL, on the right an LR. They all work for EMT; you just screw in an EMT box connector (minus the locknut, of course) and you’re good to go. If there’s not enough room in the space to get a pair of pliers in there to tighten a compression fitting, they make set screw fittings.

Looking at the post above this one, I see clarification on the box notion. Flex is much easier to get the wire through than condulets.

I get Left, Right, Front, but what does the first ‘L’ stand for?

in a grand :smack: moment, I realized I have a bit more room to play with. Though the distance between the bottom of the drain pipe and the top of my pegboard is tight, because the pipe is curved, I have more room to make the bend. I feel like I’m having a Wrath of Kahn moment or something.

And let’s say I never quite take to pipe bending. In another head-slapping realization, I already have several extra boxes. I could have simply picked up a length of flex conduit and a couple connectors, used a hacksaw to get the length I want, and then simply connected it to a pair of boxes as I normally would have. I think I was trying to make due with what I already had, but this seems extremely simple. In effect, I’d be making my own BX cable, wouldn’t I?

On a completely side note, if anyone saw the second drawing and see where the power strip will be placed, any opinion on whether it should be near the top of the wall or down near the bench? I’m thinking top of the wall with machines’ (drill press, grinder, sander, etc.) cords secured to the wall. That way most dust and fragments shooting off the machines won’t be directly in line with the outlets. Or am I overlooking something here, too?

High on the wall is a good idea. I mount outlets on the ceiling, because I have floor joists to mount them on and it’s easier than attaching to a concrete wall. They’re away from the wall so I always have easy access to them without other stuff in the way.

I would fill the conduit up with fine sand (seal ends with duck tape) and then bend it.

Mounting higher on the wall is good (but not so high it’s hard to reach). AHaving one down just at the bench height might be useful for things with short cords (like a cell phone charger, radio, etc.).

a good idea is to get a handful of hooks when at the hardware store & mount a few high, near the outlets, so you can coil excess cord from tools on them and keep it from dangling onto your workbench.

It’s an L-shaped condulet. There are also “C” condulets, which are basically pass-through conduit bodies with an opening on the front, and “T” condulets, which are self explanatory.

Thinking about it, what would probably work best is something like that, or just two prefabbed 90’s or two of these. He said it wouldn’t fit because it would stick out too far, but what he was forgetting is that there’s no real reason, other than how it looks, that this has to be perpendicular to the wall. If the entire thing is at an angle, it’s no big deal, and that’ll keep the whole assembly ‘flatter’ and tight to the wall.

I forgot about those stubby guys. I’ve warmed up to the flex/boxes notion as a simple solution which allows for splices and future expansion, if necessary.

Thanks for the help. When I realized I had a couple flex connectors on hand I thought that’d be the easiest and simplest way to go. Plus, the connectors came from an old accidental order that wasn’t worth the $2.95 to return. Using them provided a great opportunity to justify the “wait, don’t just throw them out–I may need them someday!” habit of hoarding odd screws and fittings.

Bob++'s suggestion of cutting into the pegboard let me move the powerstrip a bit to be centered over where one of the benches will be.

Here are a couple shots of the almost-finished wall. I’m almost at the end of the last circuit–I’ve been getting your help putting this workshop together for almost a year and a half now. I’ve loved learning all this–what to do with all this electrical knowledge once it’s all done?!