Durability - when to replace
Even though via ferrata sets are one of the most robust items of your equipment: they still have to be replaced.
After a genuine fall, they must always be replaced. It is extremely dangerous to rethread the brake rope or cable since the exact alignment can become unbalanced. In the absence of any stress due to falls which (hopefully) practically never occurs, via ferrata sets have a relatively long lifetime since the wear and tear at the short rope segments is considerably less than that of climbing ropes, the whole length of which is dragged over the rock face.
However, you should still try to avoid situations which may result in damage and examine the via ferrata set, like the rest of your equipment, for damage at regular intervals. You should pay special attention to the stitched seams and the areas subject to stress (around the brake, carabiner loops, tie-in loops).
If in doubt: replace the set too early rather than too late since ultimately your life depends on it.
The table below provides you with information about when the via ferrata set needs to be replaced for safety reasons; in addition, it must be replaced immediately if any of the following criteria apply:
- after a serious fall (mechanical damage due to heat resulting from friction)
- if the webbing or the seam pattern is damaged (e.g. roughening or furring of the webbing)
- if the profile of the stitched seams is damaged (dubious rigidity)
- in the case of irreversible, high levels of dirt (for example due to grease, bitumen oil etc.)
- after contact with acids, for example due to a car battery
- after high levels of thermal stress (melt points or traces of melting due to contact or friction heat identifiable)
The following table provides guidelines concerning the period of use of the via ferrata set;
|Frequency of User||Approximate Life Span|
|10 years maximum|
|Rarely used: twice per year||up to 7 years|
|Occasionally used: once per month||up to 5 years|
|Regularly used: several times per month||up to 3 years|
|Frequently used: each week||up to 1 year|
|Constantly used: almost daily||less than 1/2 year|