Electrical tape is a favorite "tool" of the do-it-yourself homeowner, and it has several uses including many that aren't even electrically-related. However, like any other tool, electrical tape has the potential to be misused, and you should understand more about it to avoid damaging your home or hurting yourself. Below are a few things to keep in mind the next time you reach for a roll of electrical tape:
Electrical tape used on wiring should be UL listed
The Underwriter's Laboratory provides inspection and approval of electrical products throughout the world. The Underwriter's Laboratory (UL), a North American company, evaluates products powered by electricity. If approved, the product manufacturer is given the right to post the distinctive UL on its product's branding or marketing.
If your electrical tape bears the UL logo, then you know it is safe for use and will not burn if exposed to high temperatures. Never use non-UL approved electrical tape for wiring; it is safe for non-electrical tasks around the house, but don't trust your home or life with it.
Electrical tape augments, but doesn't substitute for good connections
Electrical tape is a good complement for augmenting and strengthening connections, but it is a poor choice for forming connections by itself. Don't use electrical tape to hold twisted wire strands together; if the connection becomes loose, then wires can arc or separate entirely. Electrical tape also doesn't have the durability of construction that is necessary for certain environments. For example, constant moisture exposure can cause tape to fall off wiring altogether.
Instead of taping wire together directly, use electrical tape to wrap connections joined using wire nuts or soldered together. Wrap the connection multiple times, and pull the tape slightly to create wrapping tension as you proceed. Be sure your wraps begin on the wire strands, extend to the nut and then back again to the wire strands before finishing. Cut the tape cleanly with a knife or pair of scissors. Biting the tape or pulling it apart puts needless strain on the connection.
Not all electrical tape is created equal
The first thing you should keep in mind is that not all electrical tape is manufactured with the same amount of precision or with the same materials. Though all the rolls may look alike while sitting on the shelf at your hardware store, there is a real difference among various brands which is usually reflected in the pricing.
Fundamentally, the difference between good tape and bad tape is longevity. Both cheap tape and quality tape are manufactured from vinyl; however, the adhesives used in quality tape are designed to resist heat and will not breakdown. Inexpensive tape often fails by either melting when exposed to heat, or leaving a terribly-sticky residue when removed from wiring. Good tape is manufactured by reputable manufacturers and is often only available at hardware stores or electrical supply stores.
Use different colors of electrical tape when necessary
Standard electrical tape is black, and it is recognized by electricians as an all-purpose connection color. Other colors, however, can mean different things in the world of electrical work; for example, green colored tape can be used for grounded connections that ordinarily carry no current. Other colors, such as red or orange, are indicative of high voltages or various electrical phases.
If you wish to demarcate certain connections with different colors, it can carry identification advantages whenever you do future repairs or installations, or if other individuals see your handiwork. However, be careful to use the appropriate color so that you don't make mistakes in identifying wiring. Of course, never entrust your life to tape colors alone, and always verify if a given wire is powered or not before performing work. To learn more about generally-accepted color coding for electrical tape, contact an electrician in Ancaster for assistance.Share
11 June 2015
Hello, my name is Jack Solphina. I am going to use this site to share electrician tools, techniques and services with you all. Electricians really saved the day after I moved into a home with dead outlets and unresponsive fixtures. Turns out, the previous owners placed a number of switched outlets throughout the house without hooking them to an activation knob. As a result, I was unable to use those connection points as the electricity was effectively turned off. My electrician rectified the problem by installing switches and changing some of the outlets. I want to share the techniques used to diagnose and solve electrical problems in a variety of buildings. Thanks for coming by.