Plumber’s tape, sometimes called a plumber’s best friend, is a unique type of adhesive that has many different uses. Let’s find out why this handy tape is so useful and how you can benefit from having some in your home.
What Is Plumber’s Tape?
If you haven’t heard of plumber’s tape, you may instead recognize it by its other common names: Teflon tape, thread sealant, thread seal tape or PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape. There are many reasons why this versatile, professional-strength adhesive is also nicknamed plumber’s best friend.
Plumber’s tape creates a watertight seal between pipe joints and prevents leaks from threaded connections in both residential and commercial plumbing systems. Plumber’s tape is the ideal choice because it’s:
- Hydrophobic (water repellent/resistant)
- Chemically inert (meaning it won’t react with pipe contact)
- Lubricating and low friction, making it easier to thread and disassemble pipe joints
- Resistant to high temperatures
- Malleable, making it perfect for wrapping around uneven surfaces of piping components
These features make it highly useful in plumbing systems and pipe installation because the tape helps securely seal connections and prevent leaks.
When Should Homeowners Use Plumber’s Tape?
As already mentioned, plumber’s tape is ideal for the installation phase during initial construction. But did you know it can also be useful beyond that stage in your household?
DIY Fixture Installations
DIY operations to replace broken or leaking plumbing components or fixtures are growing in popularity. For the capable home handyman or woman who enjoys DIY work, plumber’s tape is now your best friend when it comes to plumbing replacements.
Once you’ve assembled your properly sized fittings and replacement pieces (and turned off and drained the water from your pipes) and are ready to begin installing your new fixture, grab your plumber’s tape. You’ll be wrapping the tape around the male end of the pipe (the male end has threads on the outside of the pipe, while the female end has corresponding threads on the inside).
From the end of the male side of the pipe, count up to the second thread – this is where you’ll begin wrapping the plumber’s tape around the piping. Place the tape end securely on the pipe, hold it in place and begin winding it around while keeping the tension on the tape. You’ll likely only need six wraps total as you work your way up to the end of the threads – make sure at least half of the tape width overlaps with each layer. If you stretch it a little during the wrapping process, that’s okay because it will create a tighter seal. This will make your plumbing fixture installation process easier while reducing the chance of leaks.
Stopgap Leak Mitigation Measure
While built to last for many years, plumbing systems and their components are not infallible. At times, your plumbing pipes or connections can spring a leak. As soon as you notice a leak, turn off the water flowing to the fixture at the shutoff valve. Then, call a local, trusted plumber to swiftly schedule repairs. Your next step is cleaning up the leak site, ensuring damp items get cleaned and all wet areas are thoroughly dried to prevent mold or water damage.
At times, you may not be able to go without using the leaking fixture until a professional can repair it. For example, if the leak culprit is a pipe leading to or from your kitchen sink or water heater, you may be in a bind. If you must use either fixture before a plumber can arrive, water will continue to drip from the leak source. This is when plumber’s tape can come in handy.
You can use the plumber’s tape as a stopgap measure for leaks until a plumber can arrive. Clean and dry the leak source as best you can. Grab the end of your roll of plumber’s tape, place it securely above the leak site, and hold it stationary as you begin to wrap it tightly around the pipe and over the source. Make sure you keep the tape taut as you overlap the leak site and then to the left and right to ensure a proper seal. This pliable, stretchy tape will help seal the water in as you wait for a plumber to arrive to make repairs.
Professional Plumbing Installation, Repair and Replacement Services
This versatile, hydrophobic tape really is a plumber’s best friend. While individuals may occasionally use plumber’s tape for DIY projects, contact a professional for assistance with more complex installations, repairs and replacements. At Atlas Home Services, our team has serviced thousands of Northern Virginia homes. Contact us today for all your home’s plumbing needs.