Browse any home improvement store, and you’re likely to see a variety of tape that aims to solve different plumbing problems. From “Teflon” pipe thread tape to self fusing silicone tape, there is a broad range of applications for plumbing tape. While professional plumbers may know the best uses for these products, many homeowners struggle to understand how to use pipe leak tapes. So, here we’ll explore the common varieties of pipe leak tape and their best uses for making different repairs.
The Pipe Leak Tape Basics:
Generally speaking, there are two basic types of pipe leak tape that are commonly used for repairs. Both of these types of products are readily available in hardware stores, but for different applications.
Uses of Pipe Leak Tape:
- Pipe Thread Tape: This type of tape has a number of different names, including “Teflon tape”, thread seal tape, PTFE tape, or even just “plumber’s tape”. But, they are essentially the same thing. This type of tape is used to help to create a watertight seal between joints or lubricate the connection between plumbing joints to make smoother threading and easier disassembly.
- Silicone Tape: Silicone tape or as it is sometimes known self fusing or self amalgamating tape is self adhesive. Unlike many other tapes, it will not actually stick to pipe; rather it sticks to itself. You can wrap silicone tape around a leaking pipe to create a waterproof, durable temporary seal.
As we touched on above, silicone and pipe thread tape have different applications. You should not use silicone tape on your pipe threads, while pipe thread tape will not work effectively on a joint pipe leak. So, it is important that you use each type of tape only for its proper application.
How to Use Pipe Leak Tape:
- Leaky Joints: If you have a joint that’s leaking, it is probably due to a loosened connection or the putty or tape sealing the connection has become worn out. In either scenario, pipe thread tape can help. If you can see that a leak is coming from a joint, it is worth attempting a repair with pipe thread tape.
- Fractures: If a pipe is damaged, it is common that a hairline fracture or other type of leak can occur. If it is clear that the leak is in the middle of your pipe, rather than a joint, it is likely to be a fracture. You can use silicone tape as a temporary seal. It will provide a waterproof solution to prevent water damage while you find a permanent fix.
Both types of pipe leak tape are actually quite easy to use. There are some simple directions that can help you to create an effective repair.
Pipe Thread Tape:
To repair a leaky joint, you can use pipe thread tape to replace the worn seal on the pipe joints. To accomplish this, disconnect the connection and wrap the tape on the pipe thread.
Firstly, turn off your water supply and then unscrew the leaking pipe. It is a good idea to have a bucket and some cloths under the joint to catch any water that is sitting in the pipe. You should also pay attention to which way you need to turn the pipe to unscrew it from the joint.
Now, remove the worn out seal, and you can then apply the tape. Wrap the pipe thread tape around the threads in the opposite direction from which you will screw the pipe back in. It is a good idea to wrap the tape around five or six times. Start at the second thread from pipe bottom and ensure it is snug with the threads. Once you have wrapped all the way to the end of the pipe, screw it back into the joint, turn the water back on and test for leaks.
Using silicone tape is even easier. Find the exact spot of the leak and once you’re completely sure of where it is, turn off your water supply. Completely dry the pipe around the area of the leak. You can then start to wrap the tape around. Wrap as tightly as possible, and overlap several times. Try to give yourself a little leeway by wrapping around the area surrounding the leak. Ensure the seal you create feels tight and snug on the pipe to ensure a watertight seal.
Can Pipe Leak Tape Provide a Permanent Solution?
Pipe thread tape is frequently used, and it can last for years. If the joint continues not to leak, it could provide a long term solution. On the other hand, silicone tape can only provide a temporary solution, while you’re arranging a permanent fix. You should only use silicone tape to prevent wasting water and stop the leak getting worse, while you’re waiting for a plumber to come and fix the pipe.
Generally, pipe leak tape can provide a helpful solution to myriad plumbing problems. Replacing joint seals with this tape is an easy DIY project that you can complete to maintain the health of your plumbing system. You should only need to call in the professionals, if you can’t seem to make a good seal on the joint threads.
While tape is easy to use, remember that water damage can be very destructive. If the pipe continues to drip water, it is not only wasting water, but could contribute to further damage to your flooring, drywall, and wooden beams inside your home. So, it is important to double check your work before you walk away and forget about the leak. Once you’ve applied the tape, be sure to turn the water supply back on and carefully check that the leak has been resolved. Even if there is just a small amount of water, it is a sign that you have not adequately repaired the leak, and you may need to call in professional help. Of course, a professional plumber
can address any underlying issues and ensure that your home is protected.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.