Zipties + Cabling = Bad?

Thanks to this discussion about the way cable installations should be dressed, an often overlooked troublespot is clear: using zipties on cable is common! It was drilled into my head from very early in my career that zipties and cabling are a bad match!

Well, according to BICSI, it's not so much that ties are bad, it is the way they are cinched so tightly they can damage cables. See this reference from ITSIMM:

Despite the recommendation to use 'hook & loop straps', I would guess most installers don't use anything - and those that do, use zipties.

What do you (or your installation teams) use? Zipties? Velcro straps? Nothing?

I started using 3M hook and loop tape in about 2003, partly because of this, but mostly because I found it much easier to deal with, since it was reusable. I don't like seeing zip ties used where they're supporting cable, because they will create a pressure point over time, but using them loosely to tie up cables in a rack, for example, fine.

The rule of thumb I've heard for zip ties, and I agree with it, is that they should be loose enough that you can easily spin them around whatever they're bundling. I think if you do that, in certain cases, a-okay.

But if they're not tight, how do they lock in the freshness?

Oh wait, that's ZipLocks.

Never mind...

Hook and loop only for finished cabling. Cable-ties are good for temporary support and temporary installation. That is all.

I have used zips most of my time installing and have found that you don't have to pull till super tight just keep the cable in place and out the way of others. But if you are pulling it high most of the time little zips are needed. Now in the can and other enclosures it can be about neatness, but still not as tight as you can.

"when it comes to zips and cables its like tieing shoes not too tight if you want to feel your feet."

So I agree with Ethan on the loose but not too lose. The spin is important, but do think for permanent installs they are fine.

Zip ties are fine for regular low voltage cabling but it has no place in network cabling. I can see some zip ties loose out in the overhead and things like that but zip ties do not belong in a network rack at all. Velcro or bust.

Zipties were drilled into my head, but also with the warning of not overtightening. I do agree when it comes to networking cables zip ties should be avoided completely.

Zipties all the way - snugged properly, of course. Problem I've found with Velcro (I know, brand name vs. generic term - hey, it's shorter and easier to type... or would be, without this explanation) is that unless you get the really spendy stuff, it can lose grip over time, especially if you have to release and re-attach it a few times. I'd rather take the risk of my strapping MAYBE being a little too tight, than having it fall off at some point in the future.

Either way, I've been using zipties for years and thousands of bundles in dozens of installs, never yet had a problem that could be attributed to a strap being cinched down too tight. Seen LOTS and LOTS of other things damage cables, but never my zap-straps.

Is this RapStrap stuff interesting and/or useful compared to zipties? I found this recent video from Schneider comparing the two:

I've actually used these and I don't dislike them. They actually can't be overtightened, by design. They're slightly elastic, but also because of the hollow space in the middle of the strap, they flex a little bit, so if you overtighten them, they just slip back a notch. I don't recall how they price out vs. velcro, though.

From the pictures, these look like a take on the old straps we used to get on bagged milk... some 30+ years ago. I have some bungee cords in my Jeep that use the same principle. It's certainly not a new idea... maybe just new marketing to a new segment.

Only issue I can see is, if you're that worried about straps being too tight, these things potentially offer two settings: just-a-bit-too-loose, and just-a-hair-too-tight.

Come on, admit it: How many of you have used Duct Tape in a pinch?

For all of you closet Duct Tape users, here's something that can soothe your consciences:

I think many installers see zipties as some kind of challenge. It's a test of manhood to see just how tight they can be yanked together. (Like lugnuts - torque specs be damned! - those get twisted on as tightly as the impact wrench allows.)

You folks expressing self restraint against over tightening zipties; good for you! Now go harp on a few meatheads while you're out there! :)

the worse thing i have seen was a installer running FIBER and tightening it as tight as he could get it with zips........ in the end he had to cut it out and re-install as the fiber did not test he had destroyed it in many places and was out the entire amount of the FIBER and the labor.... he was kept on till he made back the money and was let go. never did get why he should have treated Fiber with less force.....

My biggest beef with zips is the installers who leave sharks' teeth... you know, when they snip the tails off on an angle or using anything but flush cutters, leaving a razor-sharp edge that will slice your finger when you're trying to trace some wires above some ceiling structure...

Here Here!!!!! hate that. been shredded a few times by them.....

clip flush or twist till snap and have no edge at all...

The most impressive part of this thread is that we now have 17 18 comments on a discussion about zip ties.

What, no love for waxed string?

Just got a waxed string demo from a Vet in install that is super cool and very useful thinking of using it on my next install very cool and not going to shred you......

"Waxed string"?

LOL no really my team mates are going what is so funny......

Actually, 'waxed string' is called 'cable lacing' in my part of the world, and it may be similar in yours:

It's an artform, kind of like Naval Vessels that ornately tie ropes and rigging. It looks great, but the guys that do it have worked at it, and it really isn't practical for installs that change around.

thats is what he had.. said it still holding on jobs he did 30 years ago in his own home. now Id like to see a match to that.

even fixed a Radiator Hose for a race car at his local trac the driver did a 30 lap race at over 100mph and it held in place only downside it was so tight it tore thru the line. in his demo to the guys he broke a pen in half with one strand pulled tight. so definatly a win in the perminant side and a win in the not cuttign you side. so at this point waxed string or Cable lacing is got it for the win in Permanant installs.

Wow... that's impressive work.

It's funny. I was already quite surprised by Brian's remark regarding zip-this in the other discussion, and this thread has been quite an eye-opener for me.

I don't think there's a single cable here in any of our factories who isn't kept in place with a ziptie. Even the network cabling. I don't think that the hook & loop would work in the type of environment we got here. High temperatures, acid, and lots and lots of dust.

Fibre and such I always did with the hook & loop, and you'd be quite the fool if you would use zip-ties for that. Unless you leave lots of space in them. But what's the point then.

As for the shark-teeth. Sometimes my wife really starts to wonder if I don't have a sadomasochistic lover who I visit regulary.

for your enviornment the zips are prob a good thing but the wax cord may also work.

the sado lover is funny. been in that conversation a few times. I say "Really you have seen me stub my toe and hobble around like an old man for 20 min and you think i invite pain." to which we both get a great laugh.

if you twist the tie to break it off there is no sharp edge to cut you.

I'm far from a cable lacing expert, but it is my preferred method for locations where it makes sense, I dug up this old photo:

I have a question, what is that cable management for on the rack. as anyone here woarked in the PBX arena or worked for AT&T. Anyone know about "j" hooks? Cable Tray, etc. Again I dont see a RCDD in the bunch?

Hello, Undisclosed.

Take a look at our 'Cabling Best Practices' report for a look at Bridle Hooks and Cable Trays.

Also, we have a number of RCDD certified members. At least one of them explained to me his RCDD means 'Really Cool Data Dude'. IPVM generally supports the full scope of BICSI's recommendations.

To get rid of shark's teeth, a simple fingernail clipper does an excellent job. Got that from an old telco guy 25 years ago. Try it....

Good Grief! Use the right tool for the job...

Doesn't anyone use a tie gun? No "shark's teeth", adjustable (and repeatable) tension, quick and easy:

I use a Panduit myself ($350, but I inherited it) but the above Greenlee is under $50 and you can find tie guns under $20.

My Panduit gun:

Reminds me of the "Engineer" I caught crimping 'F' connectors with a pair of pliers (throws hands up in frustration....)