using plumber's tape

Plumber’s putty and plumber’s tape – or thread seal tape – are two products that need to be in every homeowner’s toolbox. However, as with any tool there is a right way and a wrong way to use them. You’d never use a drill to get a nail through the wall right? Of course not! Check out some suggestions below for great ways to use these two plumbing products and a few things they shouldn’t be used for.

What Is Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is a clay-like, oil-based substance that is extremely pliable and is used to form a seal around areas that do not have pressurized water moving through them. The most common example of the use of plumber’s putty is on the underside of your kitchen drain. You can think of the putty like mayonnaise on a sandwich. Your drain fits on top of your sink with putty in between the two, sealing the gap.

What Is Plumber’s Tape?

Plumber’s tape is a synthetic film that is used to ensure a tight fit between the threads of two joining pipes. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tape is commonly sold in small spools and comes in a variety of widths. The most common use – and really what is predominantly used for – is wrapping around threads between two metal pipes.

Both serve similar purposes – keeping things secure. But it’s important to use them in the appropriate application, in the appropriate quantities. Let’s talk about a few things to look out for.

How To Use Plumber’s Putty

People have come to think of plumber’s putty like they think of duct tape – useful for everything and the more the better. It’s really important to remember that anything involving water – and really anything – is best used according to the directions. The best way to use putty is to seal areas from moisture that is not under pressure. To use it, simply place a small, thin strip of putty around one surface and press it firmly into the other. Let it rest for an hour or so, and you’re good to go.

  • Around the bottom of your stainless-steel drain, attaching it to the sink itself.
  • Affixing your faucet to your countertops (test for color staining first)!
  • Around your tub drain.
  • To fix an emergency leak (it should be replaced with a permanent fix ASAP).

Using too much plumber’s putty can actually cause water to pool in an area, so be careful not to overdo it. Also, be sure to only use putty with non-pressurized water like drains. It is watertight, but cannot hold up to pressure.

How To Use Plumber’s Tape

Plumber’s tape is almost exclusively used to create a watertight seal between two metal pipes. Plumber’s tape is self-sticking so it’s very easy to use. Place the end around on side of the threads, and then wrap three times. Done! It’s perfect for attaching:

  • Water valve to faucet feed line
  • Refrigerator water and ice makers
  • Drains and dishwasher outlets