There is no denying that duct tape leads the tape industry when it comes to strength, durability, and versatility in terms of its applications. It is the most-preferred all-purpose repair tape, and it is common to find in the toolboxes of repair technicians, DIY enthusiasts, and cautious homeowners. This tape can be extremely handy during certain situations. However, the fact that these tapes are robust and are known to yield very good results doesn’t mean that they are always flawless.
There are instances when using them may not always lead to the desired results, and it is vital to be able to understand and anticipate these situations so that you can make a sound judgment regarding when to use them and when an alternative may be more suitable. Below is a brief look at some of the problematic situations you may encounter with these tapes.
Duct tapes are water-resistant, and they will always be featured in any given plumber’s toolbox. They are very effective in dealing with emergency water leak repairs. However, this is the extent to which their effectiveness ends – emergency repairs. This simply means that they are not meant for long-term use. They are not a permanent solution to water leaks because the more they stay submerged, the easier the adhesion will peel off, causing the leak to extend itself. Therefore, if you have to use these tapes to stop water leaks, ensure that they are for the short term, and that you find a permanent solution as soon as possible.
Duct tape can withstand pretty high temperatures, but when the heat heads north of 1400F, they can become quite problematic, and you can no longer rely on their effectiveness. With such high temperatures, the tapes’ adhesive will start to soften, hence, causing it to lose its strength and ultimately, it will slip off from the attachment. As such, if you have to use these tapes on hot surfaces, just know that they are likely to let you down, and if you can afford it, it is highly recommended that you opt for tape types specifically designed for hot surfaces.
Very cold surfaces
One may think that if duct tapes can’t stick to hot surfaces, then they will have no problem adhering to cold surfaces. Well, this is not entirely true. These tapes offer extremely poor performance on very cold surfaces. With extremely cold surfaces, the adhesive will harden, and sometimes solidify, taking away the tape’s sticking power. It may hold on for a while, but when the cold takes its toll on the tape, it will lose its adhesive power and simply slip off of the attachment.
Surfaces with prolonged exposure to UV lights
If you were to use the tape on a surface exposed to UV lights, it may be effective for a short while, but with continued exposure, it will lose its adhesiveness and fall off. This is because the UV rays disintegrate the bonds on the adhesive over time. Such effects also apply regarding use of adhesives in places where they are exposed to direct sunlight, since the sun is a huge source of UV light. However, you can still use such tape under UV exposure, but only if you choose the ones that have been specifically treated for UV protection.
Uneven surfaces are not only problematic for duct tape, but all types of tapes, irrespective of the tape’s strength. This is because tape doesn’t stick to rough surfaces so easily. Tapes are made of thin adhesive layers and when the surfaces are not even, they don’t get to make good contact with the surfaces. The adhesive will only get attached to the high points, leaving the low points within the surface with no contact at all. As such, there will be a weaker bond, and though the adhesion on the higher points of the uneven surface may last longer, the overall strength of the bond between the surface and the tape will be generally weak.
To get maximum adhesion with duct tapes, the surface for its application must be clean, and free from dirt, dust and any oils. Dirt surfaces may sometimes behave like uneven surfaces. For example, if you have dust on the surface, there will be high points and low points, making the surface uneven. If the surface is wet with water or oil, the fluids will form a barrier between the adhesive and the surfaces, hence, hindering proper bonding. This is why before you apply the tape, you have to ensure that the surface is clean and very dry.
Surfaces with low surface energy
Certain materials have low surface energy, and as such, they are not very good candidates for duct tape use. Such surfaces are known to prevent the adhesive from spreading out so that a stronger bond may be created. One good example of such a surface is Teflon. With such, you should be very careful about using this tape, since getting a strong bond is highly unlikely.
Duct tapes should also never be applied to a painted surface.