Sticky Tape Syndrome

Overview Tapes we are talking about can be video tapes or audio tapes....they are all basically the same type of construction.  Tapes can absorb moisture over time and the surface can become sticky.  This sticky tape syndrome will prevent the tape form being transferred as the tape will gum up the heads on the reading machine.

What Causes This To Happen 

  • Storing the tapes in a very humid the tropics
  • Some audio tapes have been known to be more likely to break down over time


Tape baking is a common practice to remove the moisture.  We have a Excalibur Dehydrator that we use to bake the tape.

Bake the tape at 120 degrees F for 4 to 8 hours.  TESTED.


Tape:  BC Lib tape 2008-058 tape #1 on May 2, 2015

Came across a reel-to-reel tape that squeaked a lot in the middle of the tape and also left reside/dust below the machine and in the path.  The tape's digital file was good at the start and end but muffled and screechy in the middle.  The tape physically appeared different looking at it from the side of the reel....the first 1/4 inch of tape looked different (lighter in colour) than the rest of the tape.

Baked the tape at 130 F in the dehydrator for about 5 hours.  Let the tape acclimatize hanging on the reel-to-reel deck for about 20-30 minutes.  Ran the squealing and the digital file was perfect!!

U-Matic (20 minute tape) tape on May 20, 2015

Ran the tape and captured the audio and some of the video later on in the tape.  The tape had 2 musical numbers on it and only the second number sort of captured....the first one only the audio and the video was major snow!  Ran a test tape with bars and found the same snow and okay audio capture.  Cleaned the heads (several times...until no dirt appeared) and re-ran test tape...bars and audio good!

Baked the tape at 125 F in the dehydrator for 8-9 hours (in at 8am out at 5pm?).

Sample of Before and After


[audio mp3=""][/audio]

After - (fixed via baking):


The link below describes baking U-Matic tapes: