Equipment Notes: Duct Tape

Roofing Industry’s Ingenuity or Worst Nightmare?

by James Yundt, president & GM, Roofmaster Products Company

(Editor’s Note: James Yundt is the president and GM of Roofmaster® Products Company and has celebrated nearly 20 years of service with the third-generation company. He has worked in virtually every department at Roofmaster, and continues to oversee all areas of the company and lends his knowledge and industry expertise to sales, marketing, and manufacturing.)

We’re fortunate to be celebrating our 70th anniversary as a company this year. In those 70 years, we have seen the products of roofing contractors’ ingenuity as it relates to repairing tools and equipment in the field to finish the job. While necessary for some work, duct tape may actually be one of the roofing industry’s worst enemies. Let me explain.

Your knee pad strap broke? Duct tape it. Glove has a hole in the thumb? Duct tape it. Propane hose springs a leak? Duct tape it. Is your extension cord with cut insulation exposing wires? Duct tape it. The last two are examples of where duct tape gives a false sense of security.

If you smell propane when using an LP torch, you should cease work immediately. Duct tape may mask holes or tears, but at least you can smell it/see a propane leak. With an extension cord, you can’t smell or see the current running in exposed wires. Remember, if you smell something, you need to safely remove your cord from the source of power immediately.

Did you know that OSHA has regulations on the proper use of approved extension cords on the jobsite? Each cord and plug must be visually inspected before use. All extension cords shall have a three-pronged plug. Flat wire cords are prohibited because they lack the protection that double insulated cords provide. Worn or frayed electrical cords or cables shall not be used. All power tools will have three prongs unless double insulated.

If you inspect a cord and notice a cut to the outer insulation, it’s best practice to remove the cord from the jobsite and tag it for repair or replacement. While duct or electrical tape may seem like a harmless fix, it is impossible to then know how the tape is affecting the cord’s flexibility, proper usage, and whether it would lead to more internal damage.

This really becomes a problem if these cords are being used to power sensitive electronic equipment such as Leister hot air welders where you need to maintain a constant wattage for proper use. Variances can damage the internal electronic components.

Duct tape does have a successful use as a temporary sealant or covering for a small roof leak, or weather proofing. There are several products available through your local roofing distributors that do a better job and can offer a long-term solution such as U-Seal Band and others. This really means just using common sense when it comes to repairs for products that could be dangerous if just a quick fix approach is taken. When you have any doubts about hoses or extension cords, take them to a professional for repair or replace them. The cost of any damages caused far outweighs the cost of replacement. Roofmaster has repair experts at all of their facilities who can inspect or repair and make recommendations for these issues.