Plumbing tape, otherwise called PTFE tape, is an excellent sealant for plumbing pipes. It coats pipe threading while preventing leaks and damaging the threads. It’s a nifty device that can go onto a host of various pipes and fittings.
But, knowing how much plumbing tape to use is the key between success and a total mess. You want to make sure you use enough for it to be effective but you also want to make sure that you don’t apply it too thick. It’s not difficult, but there are some things to keep in mind when using it.
Use It on Metal Pipes Only
First understand that plumbing tape is only ideal for metal piping. Avoid using it on something like PVC. This is because a type of wedging action can result that causes huge amounts of stress on things like joints during assembly. Stress on the pipes can end up cracking or failing to provide a proper seal, thereby creating leakage.
Two or Three Wraps on Average
The average thickness of PTFE tape is around 2½ ml. This is ideal for ensuring a good seal around the pipe. In general, you want to wrap the tape in the direction of the threading about two or three times around. If you have tape that’s thinner than 2½ ml, you may want to wrap it four or five times.
Also be sure you begin by wrapping at the end of the fitting to prevent the thread from seizing.
Too Much or Too Little Tape
Excess tape around the pipe will make it too fat and it won’t go into the fitting the right way. Alternatively, if you use too little tape and don’t wrap it enough, it will cause the materials to rub together.
Not only will this weaken the metal, but it will wear out the threading on the pipe. This means if you take the pipe off, it won’t reconnect and the pipes will be loose and leaky.
For those that like to be a little more precise about it, you can measure the size of the pipe’s diameter. Take this number and multiply it by two or three (or four or five, depending on the tape’s thickness). Then measure out your tape to your final calculation.
Check for Leaks
Once you’ve connected the pipes with the tape attached, always check to ensure there aren’t any leaks. While PTFE tape is an excellent aid in preventing leaks, it’s not foolproof. So, turn the water pressure on to ensure the sealant took.
There’s nothing difficult about using plumbing tape, you just have to know how much to use. It’s not like you have to measure or do any math, that is unless you really want to.
But, you only want to make sure you wrap the tape about two or three times in the direction of the threading. If the tape feels really thin, do it four or five times around.