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Maintaining Fiber Patch Cables

The daily maintenance for fiber patch cables matters a lot in the fiber optic system. There are two main aspects to which you should pay attention during routine maintenance.

Keep Fiber Patch Cables Clean

It is often heard that special attention should be given to the fiber optic patch cable cleaning, but are you clear why it is so important? In brief, for reliable and robust fiber optic networks. According to an industry survey by a major telecom company, contamination is the number-one reason for troubleshooting optical networks. Fibers are so fragile that once they are covered by dust or other contaminations, the optical signal can be degraded. What’s more, the metallic particles worn by the bodies and fiber housings of the fiber optic connectors will block a fiber, which will cause signal loss, thus eventually reducing the network performance and causing a great loss for businesses that rely on fiber-optic networks.

Generally, fiber optic cleaning refers to cleaning fiber connectors. How to ensure you clean fiber connectors using correct ways? There are two main cleaning methods: dry cleaning and wet cleaning, each performing different functions. Reel-type fiber cleaners, pen cleaners, fiber cleaning wipes, and foam swabs are the common fiber connector cleaning solutions.

Store Fiber Patch Cables Properly

No matter a fiber cable is in use or out of use, there is one significant point to be considered: Do not bend or stretch your fiber cable too much. It is often the case when working with fiber optic cables, people stretch or bend them. For this reason, the worst case is the fiber may get damaged. Some breakage caused by bending can be visible, but some loss may not, such as microscopic fiber deformations caused by very low temperature, displacement of a few millimeters caused by buffer or jacket imperfections, poor installation practice or other factors. Since such loss can not be seen by the human eyes directly, it will be overlooked and things can get even worse over time. In case of a huge loss when the fiber patch cords must be replaced, the following essential elements need attention:

  • Design your fiber cable pathway using proper tools or components to protect fibers, such as horizontal cable managers.
  • Do not bend fiber patch cables beyond their minimum bend radius, especially in those tight spaces of high-density fiber patching areas.
  • Make sure not to hit the fiber connector against anything! On the one hand, those ends may get abraded or broken. On the other side, broken glass at the fiber end can cut someone’s skin. It is suggested to use protective caps when storing or pulling fibers.
  • OTDR and optical fiber microscopes are recommended if you need equipment for measuring and identifying any faults such as breaks within the fiber cable or overall attenuation.



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