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How to Repair Cut Fiber

Repairing Cut Fiber Cables

As we all know, fiber optic lines are complicated, powerful, and delicate. They provide incredibly powerful communication signals with high bandwidths and great reliability. But, because they are so delicate, they can be damaged.

When damage occurs, you can either repair it or replace it, and the former option is much cheaper. Here are the steps to repair a cut fiber cable.

Find The Damage

The first step requires that you find the damage. To do this, you can use an OTDR, Optical Time Domain, Reflectometer. This is a testing device that looks at optical signals in the cable which can identify irregularities in the structure.

Any damage in the fibers will break or scatter light running through them, and the OTDR can identify where that happens.

Once the OTDR identifies the broken section, you can work to repair it.

Remove The Damaged Section

Like any cable repair, the gist of the job involves removing the damaged section and replacing or splicing as needed.

Depending on the extent of the damage to the cable, you can either remove the small section and splice what you have, or you can remove the significant section and splice in a replacement cable as needed.

To remove damaged fiber optic cabling, you want to cut it out using the right tool. A fiber optic cutter can do this, and it will minimize additional damage to the fibers when cutting. Using the wrong tool can shred or crush the fibers, and you won’t be able to splice them to healthy fibers to complete the repair.

Cut out the damaged section with enough room that you can be sure you are working with healthy fibers.

Strip The Cable

Now that you have removed the damaged section, you need to strip the cable on each end that will be spliced.

Once again, there is a specialized tool for the job. A fiber optic stripper allows you to gently open and peel back the jacket. This will expose the fibers inside. Be sure to cut any sheath and yarn as needed.

You will be working with fully exposed fibers at this point. Be gentle and take your time.

Clean The Fibers

If the fiber ends are damaged, trim them with a high-precision fiber cleaver. Thai ensures that you have clean cuts for splicing the fibers.

Once they are trimmed, clean the fibers. You can use alcohol and a lint-free wiping tool. Any amount of lint can incapacitate a fiber, so it’s important to remove all particles from the fiber ends.

Be sure not to touch the fibers as even a smudge from your fingers can render the fibers inoperable.

Splicing The Fiber

When the fibers are properly cleaned, it’s time to splice them together. You have two options: mechanical and fusion splicing.

Mechanical splicing is easier. You can use a mechanical splicing mechanism. This allows you to align the fibers, and it then mechanically joins them together. The mechanical splice will remain in the fiber optic line moving forward.

Fusion splicing is a little more complicated, but it creates a cleaner signal and minimizes transmission loss through the joint. You can use a fusion splicing tool to align the fibers. Once done, the tool will use either heat or electrical arcing to physically fuse the fibers together. When that is finished, you can remove the splicing tool, and you will have whole fibers.

Test The Fiber Cable

Once you are finished splicing the fibers, you can test them with your OTDR once more. If there is a problem with the signal, address it accordingly. When the test comes back with acceptable results, you can resheath the fibers. Put everything back where it belongs and bury or isolate the cable as it was before.

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