SAR Tech Tips: Rope Maintenance and Lifespan

In the vertical world, your ropes are literally your lifeline. It’s therefore critically important to know how best to care for your ropes, and how to tell when it’s time to retire them.

Wash your rope

Whether you’re in an industrial or wilderness setting, your ropes are going to get dirty. Dirt and other contaminants can drastically reduce the working life of your ropes. Ropes should be cleaned with mild soap and water and hung to dry in the shade. The PMI Bokat Rope Washer or a similar tool will help take all the hard work out of cleaning ropes. Simply hook the washer up to a water supply and pull the rope through.

The “10 year” rule

The general consensus out there is that rope has a 10 year lifespan. However, the recommended working life of a rope can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, and on how much the rope is being used. Sterling ropes, for instance, recommend retiring your rope after 1 year of extensive use; 5 years of regular use; or 10 years of occasional use. Other manufactures may recommend a 5 year shelf life from first use, or a 10 year shelf life if unused. These variations highlight the importance of always reading the info sheet that comes with your rope. SAR includes a copy of the manufacturers info sheet with every rope we sell.

Inspect your rope!

No mater the age of your rope, regular physical inspection is critical. Check for excessive fraying, softness or stiffness, exposed cores, glazing or hard spots, and lack of uniformity in diameter, colour or texture. If you notice any of these issues, it’s probably time to retire your rope. Other things to be mindful of are sharp edges (always use rope pro!), excessive UV exposure, or chemical contamination.


12 November 2019


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