back to articles

Duct Tape: Cure-All or Band-Aid for Homeowners & Home Repairs?

The Pros and Cons of Duct Tape When It Comes to Repairing Your Home

That roll of duct tape lying around your home? The cloth, water-resistant grey tape kids turn into wallets, fashion designers turn into dresses, and DIY enthusiasts use to craft – or repair – containers?

Duct tape is genius for projects like these.

Also, for curing warts, for catching flies, and for opening jars.

But, duct tape to fix your home? Not so much.

Read on to see why duct tape isn’t a cure-all for your living space...at all, but how somehow it has become our go-to resource for repairs.

The History Of Duct Tape

Duct tape was the oddball idea created in response to a need United States soldiers had during World War II: a cloth-based, waterproof tape.

And guess who created this much-needed product? A mother.

Picture this: Vesta Stoudt, who had two sons in the Navy fighting in the war, worked at an Illinois packing plant and was in charge of sending rifle grenade launchers overseas.

To seal the boxes and ensure a certain “water-proof-ness” (crucial for ammo to be functional upon arrival), two types of tape were used. But the tapes were thin. Flimsy. They also made it difficult for soldiers to open the boxes with their bare hands.

Stoudt knew that keeping ammunition dry meant life or death for soldiers. Her idea was for a tape that could seal boxes well, keep water out, and allow soldiers to open their munition boxes—fast.

When her boss wouldn’t listen to her idea, Stoudt wrote a letter...to the President of the United States. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

And guess what?

FDR sent Stoudt’s idea and design sketches to the War Production Board, who sent them over to Johnson & Johnson, who began producing this new tape “of exceptional merit.”

Waterproof “like a duck” and made with cotton “duck” fabric, the new tape was dubbed “duck tape.” Soldiers used duck tape (which back then was green in color) in the field to repair almost everything, and Stoudt earned awards for her ingenious idea.

The Tape of Exceptional Merit

Duck tape eventually morphed into duct tape, and while “duct” may seem to hint at the air ducts that weave through the skeleton of your home, duct tape and air ducts should not go together.

Strong, but not the ideal fix-it-all for a home, duct tape can cost you.

For three months, Max Sherman and Iain Walker of the U.S. Department of Energy Berkeley Lab tested a variety of sealing methods for HVAC units, including duct tape. Sherman, who heads the Energy Performance of Buildings Group at the Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division said, “We tried as many different kinds of duct sealants as we could get our hands on. Of all the things we tested, only duct tape failed. It failed reliably and often quite catastrophically.”

Energy Star also warns against using duct tape for home repairs. “Never use duct tape, as it is not long lasting.”

What Are My Options Besides Duct Tape?

If duct tape isn’t a viable solution for home repairs, what is?

1. Heat-related repairs

Duct tape is not useful for sealing or repairing heating and ventilation ducts. Heat will loosen the adhesive. Plus, without a safety certification, duct tape can burn and/or possibly produce a toxic smoke.

Instead, with a home service contract, take advantage of your access to qualified home service technicians who can access the damage, seal holes, and repair ventilation ducts properly to restore your HVAC unit.

2. Water-related repairs

Duct tape won’t hold out water forever. In a pinch—sure—but it won’t be long before duct tape won’t stick at all. Instead, use a permanent adhesive that can withstand a watertight seal in hot and cold weather.

3. Temporary Repairs

Don’t rely on duct tape to seal a window, bundle wires, or hang plastic. Duct tape won’t protect a window from breaking, either. Instead, you’ll be left with a sticky residue, and, if the window breaks, larger pieces of duct-taped glass to sweep up. Replace windows when they crack or break and use other materials to properly hang or bundle items with—these are not jobs for duct tape.

4. Cold Weather Fixes

Think of tape like a Florida bird. It won’t do its job in the dead of winter. Extreme cold means duct tape won’t stick at all. This means properly sealing windows by replacing them or having them repaired, or calling on a repair technician for home appliances and systems malfunctions—not duct tape.

5. Light

Anything that comes into contact with UV light ages—the skin on your body, the hood of your car, and the same goes for duct tape. Using duct tape outside will not give you the results you’re after. If you have duct tape holding together exterior elements of your home, consider replacing them with new material before the light and other outside elements take it down for you.

The Longevity of Home Living

Buying a home is a long-term plan and investment. Purchasing a home service contract is the same thing. Your focus is on longevity—not quick fixes.

As much as homeowners may wish for a single cure-all, like duct tape, there simply isn’t one.

Duct tape won’t last forever—this we know—but with the right home service contract and routine preventative care, your home will stand the test of time and be the investment you intend it to be.