You can use different kinds of plumbing repair tape to solve different plumbing leak problems. Use pipe thread tape, sometimes called “Teflon” or “Plumber’s” pipe, to fix leaking pipe joints. Use silicone, sometimes called “self-amalgamating,” “self-fusing,” or “leak repair” tape, to fix hairline cracks or other non-joint pipe leaks.
Tape has a surprisingly broad number of applications in plumbing. In fact, professional plumbers use tape effectively all the time. You just need to have the right tape for the job and know how to use it. Here’s what you should know about the common types of pipe leak tape and the repairs they’re used for.
What is pipe leak tape?
There are two types of tape that are commonly used in leaking pipe repair: pipe thread tape and silicone tape. Both are commonly available in hardware stores but have different applications:
Pipe thread tape
You may know pipe thread tape as “thread seal tape,” “PTFE tape,” “Teflon tape,” or “plumber’s tape.” It is used to help create a watertight seal between plumbing joints, as well as to lubricate the connection between the joints to make threading smoother and disassembly easier.
Silicone tape is also called “self-amalgamating tape” or “self-fusing tape,” because it is only self-adhesive. Unlike other tapes, it doesn’t actually stick to the pipe; only to itself. Silicone tape can be wrapped around a pipe leak to form a temporary but reliably durable and waterproof seal.
When should I use each pipe leak tape?
As noted above, pipe thread and silicone tapes both have very different applications. Teflon pipe thread tape won’t work on non-joint pipe leaks effectively, and you should never apply silicone tape to your pipe’s threads. Instead, make sure you use each tape only for its proper application:
If your pipe’s joints are leaking, it’s probably either because the connection between them has loosened or the tape or putty sealing the connection has worn out. Pipe thread tape can help with both of these problems. If you identify that your pipe leak is coming from a joint, then you should apply some pipe threading tape.
Hairline fractures and other leaks happen when pipes are somehow damaged. If the leak is clearly coming from the middle of a plumbing pipe, rather than a joint, then it’s probably a fracture. Silicone plumbing tape for leaks can help form a temporary waterproof seal to prevent water from leaking while you seek a permanent fix. Pipe thread pipe won’t accomplish this effectively, and shouldn’t be used.
- Use pipe thread tape to seal leaking joints
- Use silicone tape to temporarily stop fracture leaks on pipes themselves
How to use plumber’s tape
Plumbing tape is quite easy to use for either application. Follow these directions:
Pipe thread tape on leaking joints
To use pipe thread tape to repair a leaking pipe joint, you’ll need to replace the worn seal between the joints:
- Turn off the water supply to the pipe
- Unscrew the pipe joint that’s leaking (put a bucket or towel beneath first)
- Remove any existing worn out seal
- Wrap the tape around the thread in the opposite direction from the direction in which you’ll screw the pipe back in
- Wrap the tape around four to six times, starting from the second thread from the bottom
- Make sure the tape is snug up to the end of the pipe
- Screw the pipe back into the joint and test for leaks
Silicone tape for fracture leaks
This process is even simpler.
- Locate the leak
- Turn off the water to the pipe
- Dry the area of the pipe around the leak
- Wrap the tape around it as tightly as possible with your pipe repair tape
- Wrap the tape around the area surrounding the leak as well, overlapping several times
- Turn on the water and test that the leak has stopped
Can pipe leak tape fix a leak for good?
Pipe thread tape is frequently used and can last years. As long as the joint isn’t leaking, you can consider it a long-term (if still ultimately temporary) solution. Silicone tape, on the other hand, should only be used as a temporary measure while you seek more permanent fixes. You should use silicone tape to prevent a leak from getting worse or wasting more water while you call a plumber. It’s never a permanent leak fix.
Pipe leak tape is a surprisingly easy and helpful solution to many plumbing problems. In fact, replacing your joint seals with pipe thread tape is a great, easy DIY project you can complete to help preserve the health of your plumbing.
Permanent Help with Leaky Pipes
For expert pipe repair or replacement, the experts at Mike Diamond are only a call away. When your pipes need more than a little to tape, call us for fast and reliable plumbing help in Los Angeles and Southern California.