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Preferred Ropes for Professional Roof Cleaners

Posted by Flent Ballantyne on

Testing rope with Eveook non-penetrating fall protection system for residential style sloped roofs.

A couple months ago, we introduced the Eveook non-penetrating fall protection system for residential style sloped roofs to the members of the Spray Wash Academy Facebook group. My assumption was that since the Eveook fall protection system was, to our best judgment and many others, superior to anything else for installing Christmas lights, when it came to safety and getting jobs done quickly and efficiently, that it would also be the best choice for roof cleaners. (We have been endorsed by CLIPA [Christmas Lights Installers Professionals Association] and Christmas Decor [largest franchisor of Christmas lights installers]).

Responding to our introduction, someone asked about the ropes we use and how they are affected by chemicals. After talking to the manufacturer, we stated that you should rinse your ropes daily and inspect them, and that if done to the manufacturer’s instructions, you should not have any problems. I also asked the group what kind of chemicals you use. A member stated that sodium hypochlorite 4% to 6% is likely the most damaging of chemicals used for roof cleaning. Since then, we have researched rope materials that work best with chemicals, with emphasis on materials that work best with sodium hypochlorite. We found that generally, the three best chemical resistant ropes include polyamide (nylon), polyester, and UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene.)

Testing ropes for Eveook non-penetrating fall protection system for residential style sloped roofs.

The great majority of safety ropes and climbing ropes are polyamide and polyester, because of their strength, durability, chemical resistance, and ease of use.  (For roofers, that need a system that will protect up to six people, we are incorporating a new rope as an anchor line with a UHMWPE core and a polyester sheath. Generally, we do not recommend UHMWPE unless you have more than two people on a system. These ropes can only be used as anchor lines, they are not interchangeable with the lifelines, and they cost twice as much.)

Currently, for systems up to two persons, we are using The Safety Pro 11 mm polyamide kernmantle rope by Cousin-Trestec. (This rope may also be seen with the CAMP Lithium label or the Ballantyne Gear label). 

Sodium hypochlorite is an alkali. The pH value of sodium hypochlorite ranges between 11 and 13. 

According to Professional Plastics, you will see that polyamide, is rated as a good choice (their highest rating). One advantage to polyamide over polyester is that when it nears a breaking point, it is more likely to stretch rather than break. As part of the long process of certifying the Eveook system to the ANSI Z359.6 standard as an engineered fall protection system for residential sloped roofs, in 2018 we performed extensive tests on ropes to determine what ropes to use. One series of tests performed, on the lifelines, consisted of a six-foot free-fall drop test of a 310-pound test mass, using an 11 mm rope. The rope that we had planned to use was a polyester kernmantle rope.

The test mass was attached to the rope with a rope grab fall arrester made by CAMP Safety, called the Goblin  (The Goblin is a rope grab fall arrester and also an energy absorber.  If the force created by the fall is greater than 1300 pounds, to prevent death or injury to the user, the Goblin will brake on the line, rapidly slowing the fall, until the force is reduced to 1300 pounds [up to two or three feet] and then it will stop the fall. The Goblin arrests the fall by grabbing the rope. Unlike some fall arresters, it has no teeth and the surfaces within the Goblin, that grab the rope, are smooth.) Nevertheless, the drop test of the 310-pound test mass tore the sheath of the polyester rope and the test mass fell to the ground. The system greatly reduced the rate of the fall but, even so, the test mass hit the ground and the test failed. Disappointed by the failure of the polyester rope, we attempted the same test with the Safety Pro 11mm polyamide rope made by Cousin-Trestec.

Testing ropes for Eveook non-penetrating fall protection system for residential style sloped roofs.

From the link, you can see the properties of this extraordinary rope, made of a high-tenacity polyamide. With the new rope, the system arrested the fall and the test mass did not hit the ground. We successfully repeated the test several times in different environments and it always arrested the fall when testing a fall that met the specifications within the technical manual of the Eveook Non-Penetrating Fall Protection System for Residential Style Sloped Roofs  Polyamide ropes, when approaching an excessive force, will often stretch, rather than tare. Based on our tests and the available data, the Safety Pro 11mm high tenacity polyamide rope appears to be an excellent choice for use with sodium hypochlorite and most alkalines. Please let us protect your lives, quality of life, and businesses.

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