Today’s electrical industry is much more advanced than it was a century ago. All certified technicians should know the basic how-to’s of operating the gadgets in their tool box. Regarding the more sensitive workings of a building or warehouse, you may find yourself on the job needing a quick fix for a leaky pipe or notice a cord fraying a bit. In these instances, electrical tape is an electrician’s best friend. Below is a safety checklist to keep you and your employees safe as you mend minor electrical issues.
Things to Know Before Investing in Electrical Tape
Electrical tapes made of vinyl are the most effective and popular of all tapes and offer a great “stretch factor”. They’re able to maintain their adhesion through extreme wear, which is another reason behind the favoritism.
Electrical tapes are made with a PVC backing and rubber-based adhesive. They offer exceptional heat resistance – enduring temperatures upwards of 200° F.
Electrical tape comes in all sorts of colors, but this is not an intention to allow contractors to pick their favorite shade and hit the check-out line. These tapes are used for electrical phasing tasks. Each color represents a specific application and voltage level that characterize the wire that it is being used to phase. It would be advisable to learn what each color represents and have a color coding guide available for reference on the job. Being careless with the colors that you choose for phasing tasks causes major safety concerns – as it puts other technicians at risk of electric shock if they aren’t properly prepared for the high-voltage cables they will be working with.
Click here to learn what each color represents.
A Popular Question About Electrical Tape is: Can I use wire nuts instead of electrical tape?
Wire nuts are meant to be used with low-voltage systems like light switches or junction boxes and are used as an electrical connector rather than a means of insulation. This is much different than electrical tape and should not be used as a substitute in any case.
Don’t Attempt to Double-Down on Insulation
Electrical tape is made to be an insulating material itself but covering the tape with another layer of insulation is generally not a safe idea. If you’re considering using electrical tape to cover water pipes, please use caution. When adding insulation on top of the tape it becomes much hotter, especially during the winter. Pressing a flammable insulation against electrical tape can put you at a potential for hazard, so make sure to choose between one or the other.
Don’t use Electrical Tape to Seal up Loose Wire Ends
Although it may be tempting to keep wrapping new tape around any exposed wires, don’t let the damage get too out of hand. This means anything past a minor abrasion or cut. Replace any cords that have become majorly impaired to avoid live wires that can cause shocks when they are touched.
Use the Proper Technique to Wrap Your Tape
Since electrical tape will usually be used around more circular objects like pipes and wires, there needs to be a little bit of technique applied to wrapping the tape. The stretch of the tape allows you to pull on it while wrapping, allowing it to maintain a secure and reliable hold. This prevents tape failure and maintenance callbacks in the future.
Electrical tape is – as anyone who owns a toolbox knows – a critical tool for a variety of uses on the job. It’s heat resistance and insulating qualities provide advantages that technicians wouldn’t get from many other types of tape. Electrical tape can be used on cables and components that are part of a bigger electric framework, so it’s extremely important to be cautious and knowledgeable of best practices before using.
Caryl Anne Crowne is a contributing writer and media specialist for Mr. Electric. She often produces content for a variety of electrical blogs.