Ropes are not all the same. Climbing ropes are dynamic – they are designed to stretch in case of a fall, absorbing and dissipating the energy generated by the fall. Static ropes are used for rappelling, rescuing, caving, tying down and hauling, in situations where there is no chance of significant impact loading with minimal stretch. Although static and dynamic ropes look the same, they are not interchangeable. Do not use static ropes for climbing. Most of the ropes you will encounter are static ropes. Dynamic ropes are normally sold for rock climbing and are more expensive.
The weak spot in most ropes is the knot. Angles, kinks, and knots, stress the fibers unevenly and weaken rope. Some knots weaken some rope to as little as 40% of its rated strength. Even with new rope try not to use it at more than 50% of its rated strength. If your rope is old, worn, or damaged by sunlight or chemicals – expect less. The following websites will give you information on the breaking strength of rope. Tom Moyer’s website for: High Strength Cord Testing, Euro Death-Knot Testing, and Rope Gear and Testing,
To get the most out of your ropes. Store them in a rope bag and keep them clean. Dirt shortens the life of your rope by causing internal as well as external abrasion. Dirty rope can be washed in cold water using mild, non-detergent soap. Adding fabric softener while washing improves rope flexibility by lubricating the fibers. Do not bleach your rope. Do not dry your rope in direct sunlight. Do not dry it in a dryer.
Store your rope away from heat, sunlight and chemicals. Protect your rope from all compounds containing acids, alkalis and oxidizing agents. Avoid contact with battery acid and bleach. Avoid contact with petroleum substances such as gasoline and oil which do not appreciably affect nylon ropes by themselves but may contain additives that can cause damage. These substances also attract dirt which causes the rope to wear more quickly.
On the fire department, we learned to take good care of our ropes since our lives could depend on them. In a serious emergency your life or the lives of others could depend on your ropes, take good care of them.