Plumber Sealing Pipes

July 11th, 2012

What are the types of things plumbers use for Sealants?

Plumbers use different types of sealants. Plumber’s tape is used on the threads of plumbing pipes and other types of plumbing connections. Other sealants that Plumber Salt Lake City will use are silicone caulking, O-ring, and putty compounds. The type they use depends on the type of repair job. Putty compounds and silicone caulk are other sealants plumbers need.

Plumber’s Putty

Plumber’s putty is a pliable substance used to create watertight seals around faucets and drains. The putty is considered one of the basic plumber tools and is often used any time plumbing fixtures are replaced. Plumber’s putty should not be confused with Teflon® tape, which is used to seal pipe joints that are threaded.

Different brands of plumber’s putty often contain different ingredients. Many products make use of some type of clay as a base ingredient. Linseed oil is also a common additive. Other formulas include limestone, a blend of fish oils, or talc.

Plumber’s putty is used primarily during the installation of faucets and drains. The putty remains soft for a long time, making it a good choice for situations where a watertight, but reversible, seal is preferred. A bead of putty can be placed around the base of a faucet before it is attached to the sink, and the excess wiped off. The putty will seal the join between the two, preventing water from seeping in.

  1. Sinks. Plumber’s putty is used around the rim of the sink to create a watertight barrier, but it should not use be used if your counter-top is granite or another kind of stone. It is compatible with Formica counter-tops. If the seal is formed correctly, no water will be able to seep into the area under the sink and create mold or water damage. In order for a sink to be installed correctly, the soft plumber’s putty will be applied to the bottom of the sink and place, with pressure to the counter-top. Some sinks come with clips meant for the bottom of the sink (under the counter-top). The clips ensure that the proper amount of pressure is placed on the plumber’s putty for it to be effective.
  2. Drains. Plumber’s putty may be used to seal drains in the sink or the bathtub. Like with the installation of a sink, plumbers should place the putty underneath the drain before they place the drain. Then pressure will be applied in order to create a watertight bond.
  3. Toilets. To seal a toilet to the floor, plumber’s putty may be used. However, caution should be exercised. If the toilet seals all the way around and then it develops a leak somewhere, the water will be trapped in. The water will then rot the floor without any signs. In order to avoid this scenario, the plumber will not seal the toilet all the way around. Then any seeping water will alert you of a leak.
  4. Pipes and Plumbing. Plumber’s putty in pipes and plumbing does not hold up to water pressure. The use of plumber’s putty can only be used on pipes that will not experience a great deal of pressure. To seal pipes together, a plumber will place the putty on the inside of the pipe, where the threads will twist together. Then, twist the other end of the pipe into the threads and the putty and will wipe away excess putty and allow time for it to set.

Plumber’s putty remains soft and pliable for a relatively long period of time, so it should not be used to seal pipes or fixtures that will be under pressure from water. In such cases, the seal will not hold. Pipes should be sealed using Teflon® tape or a liquid pipe compound. In some cases, plumber’s putty can stain the material the sink is made out of; in such instances, silicone caulk may be a better option.


Plumber Salt Lake City often use bars of solder, much thicker than the wire used for electrical applications. Solder is an alloy of two or more metals used for joining other metals together. The most common solder is called half and half, or plumber’s solder, and is composed of equal parts of lead and tin. Other metals used in solder are aluminum, cadmium, zinc, nickel, gold, silver, palladium, bismuth, copper and antimony. Various melting points to suit the work are obtained by varying the proportions of the metals. The pasty state of a non-eutectic solder can be exploited in plumbing as it allows molding of the solder during cooling, e.g. for ensuring watertight joint of pipes, resulting in a so called ‘wiped joint’.

In plumbing, a higher proportion of lead was used, commonly 50/50. This had the advantage of making the alloy solidify more slowly, so that it could be wiped over the joint to ensure water tightness, the pipes being physically fitted together before soldering. Although lead water pipes were displaced by copper when the significance of lead poisoning began to be fully appreciated, lead solder was still used until the 1980s because it was thought that the amount of lead that could leach into water from the solder was negligible from a properly soldered joint. The electrochemical couple of copper and lead promotes corrosion of the lead and tin, however tin is protected by insoluble oxide. Since even small amounts of lead have been found detrimental to health, lead in plumbing solder was replaced by silver (food grade applications) or antimony, with copper often added, and the proportion of tin was increased. Lead-free solders in commercial use may contain tin, copper, silver, bismuth, indium, zinc, antimony, and traces of other metals.

Plumber’s Tape

The tape grade you use will be determined in part by the function of the pipe you will be sealing. The main types of pipe will carry hot or cold water, fuel oil or natural gas. For oxygen lines, the thread tape must be grease-free to avoid combustion. Thread tape is not suitable for vacuum or compressed-air systems.

Nature of the Pipe

Plumber Salt Lake City choice of tape grade will also be determined by the nature of the junction. A permanent joint will be part of the infrastructure of the house or building, such as a water main or gas line, and will require little or no maintenance. A semi-permanent joint will for joints that require routine maintenance, such as kitchen or bathroom plumbing. Thread tape works well for semi-permanent joints, while pipe sealant would be a better choice on permanent joints.

There are actually two different kinds of tapes that are commonly referred to as plumber’s tape. One type of tape should be more appropriately called Teflon tape. The other type of plumber’s tape, on the other hand, should be called metal strapping instead. In either case, each type of tape is more commonly called plumber’s tape because plumbers are the professionals who most commonly use them.

  1. Teflon Tape – is used in sealing the pipe threads from any leaks. Teflon tape is a very thin, white tape that is wound around the thread of the pipes in order to fill in the gaps between the threads. The tape, which has a silky texture, also serves as a lubricant for the pipe threads when the fittings are tightened. Teflon tape is not an adhesive tape and will not work if you use it for sticking things together.
  2. Metal Strapping – The other kind of plumber’s tape is not really a tape but a kind of strapping. This is a flexible strip made of metal that is possesses holes placed regularly all throughout the length of the strapping. This “plumber’s tape” is usually used in giving additional mechanical support for pipes. But, interestingly, people have been able to find different creative uses for the metal strapping.

Both the teflon tape and the metal strapping can be readily purchased from any hardware store or plumbing supply store. When buying plumber’s tape, make sure that you know specifically what kind of tape is needed. But this is an easy thing to do because both “tapes” are so different from each other.

Tape Grade, Color and Density

Thread tape comes in different colors for different uses.

  • White tape is single density and intended for water pipes of 3/8 of an inch or less. It can sometimes be found in a silver color to match the pipes.
  • Red tape is triple density, for pipes one-half inch to 2 inches in diameter. It is designed for pipes with larger joints, such as water distribution pipes. Note that the container is red, but the tape itself looks pink.
  • Yellow tape is double density, and designed for gas and fuel lines.
  • Green tape is grease and oil free, and designed for pipes carrying oxygen.

[Please note that these tape colors refer to specifications in the United States only.]


O-rings are another type of sealing tool that plumbers can use to seal joints. Most attachments come with their own o-rings, but often they are the wrong size or low quality. Having a good selection of o-rings will help plumbers complete quality jobs. An O-ring, also known as a packing, or a toric joint, is a mechanical gasket in the shape of a torus; it is a loop of elastomer with a disc-shaped cross-section, designed to be seated in a groove and compressed during assembly between two or more parts, creating a seal at the interface.

The O-ring may be used in static applications or in dynamic applications where there is relative motion between the parts and the O-ring. Dynamic examples include rotating pump shafts and hydraulic cylinder pistons. Kitchen faucets have one or more O-rings to prevent water from oozing out around the spout. If the ring wears out, you’ll see water at the base of the spout every time you turn on the water. Tackling plumbing problems in the home can be quite daunting. Don’t dismay call a professional plumber like Plumber Salt Lake City.