There are many different types of tape out there. From painter’s tape to duct tape, from electrical tape to ordinary scotch tape, we have heard of them all. Surprisingly there are two different kinds of tape for various plumbing applications. You may have heard of them. Plumber’s tape or Teflon tape is used on pipe threads to repair and prevent leaks at pipe joints. Silicone tape or self-fusing tape can be used to fix hairline cracks or other leaks not found at the joints. Read on to learn all about pipe seal tape and how to use it.
Types of Tape
Pipe Thread Tape
Most often you will have heard of this as Teflon tape or plumber’s tape. It is sometimes also referred to as thread seal tape or PTFE tape. This type of tape is wrapped around the threads at the end of a pipe before it is screwed into place. This tape then helps to create a watertight seal between the pipe and the joint. It also adds a layer of lubrication to the joint to make screwing and unscrewing easier.
Silicone tape is often called self-fuse tape or self-amalgamating tape, because it will only stick to itself. It does not actually stick to the pipe. It is used to wrap around a pipe to form a temporary waterproof seal in the event of a leak.
When To Use Them
It is important that you use to correct tape for the correct circumstance. Not doing so can cause further damage and necessitate additional repairs to your plumbing.
If you have leak coming specifically from the joints of your pipes (where your pipes connect to each other), then it is either due to the pipe connection loosening over time or the old putty on the threads wearing out. This is where Teflon tape is useful.
If your pipes have been in some way damaged and you can see a visible, hairline fracture, Teflon tape will not help. This is a situation where you should wrap from silicone tape around the pipe to temporarily prevent any further leakage. This will give you time to call a plumber and have them repair or replace the pipe.
How to Use Them
To use Teflon tape to repair a leaking joint, you will need to disconnect the pipe from the joint and wrap the Teflon tape around the threads of the pipe a few times. Before disconnecting the pipes, remember to turn the water off, then you can safely unscrew the pipe that is leaking. Then remove any old tape or sealant that is around the threads and begin to wrap the tape around in its place. Be sure to wrap the tape in the opposite direction to how you have to screw the pipe back in. You will want to have about four to six layers of tape on the threads to ensure a tight enough seal. Once that is done, replace the pipe and turn the water back on.
For Silicone tape, the process is even easier, because you do not need to disconnect the pipes to use it. Simply locate the leak then turn off the water. Make sure the area where you will be applying the tape is thoroughly dried. Then start wrapping the tape around the pipe. Make sure to wrap it as tightly as possible and to overlap your layers several times to ensure complete coverage and seal. It is good practice to extend the tape out beyond the borders of the crack a little ways for extra security.