You can use different kinds of 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 might 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 different kinds of 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 and 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 reliably durable and waterproof temporary seal.
When should I use each pipe leak tape?
As noted above, pipe thread and silicone tapes both have very different applications. 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 get some pipe thread 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 tape 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 on leaking joints
- Use silicone tape on fracture leaks on pipes themselves
How do I use pipe leak tape?
Pipe leak tape is quite easy to use. Follow these directions:
Pipe thread tape on leaking joints
To use pipe thread tape to repair a leaking joint, you’ll use it to replace the worn seal between the joints. To do that, you’ll have to disconnect the connection itself and wrap the tape around the pipe thread. First, turn off the water. Then, unscrew the pipe joint that’s leaking. Pay attention to which way you have to turn the pipe to screw and unscrew it from the joint.
Next, remove the worn out seal and begin applying the pipe thread tape. 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 quite snug with the threads. When you’ve wrapped 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 and, when you’re completely sure you know where it is, turn off the water. Dry the area of the pipe around the leak as well as you can and begin wrapping the tape around it. Wrap the tape as tightly as possible, overlapping several times. Give yourself some extra leeway by wrapping the tape around the area surrounding the leak as well. Make sure the seal you’re creating is as tight and snug on the pipe as possible for best effect.
Can pipe leak tape fix a leak for good?
Pipe thread tape is frequently used to accomplish the same task you just used it for 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–never as a permanent leak fix.
Overall, pipe leak tape is a surprisingly legitimate 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.
If you silicone tape on a leak or can’t seem to make the right seal for your joint threads, however, then you’ll need some professional help. Luckily, the experts at Mike Diamond are only ever a call away. No matter your plumbing leak problem, we’ll have the right solution and have it fast.