First of all, what is a Plumbers Tape?
Plumber’s Tape is a polytetrafluoroethylene film which helps you to get a watertight seal on threaded pipe joints. Plumber’s tape also lubricates the connection, making the threading easier and smoother. Using this product helps to prevent pipes from sticking to each other (it’s important when you want to unscrew the connected pipe), to prevent possible corrosion that could make the stuck piping problem even worse.
There has been some confusion about the different names of this useful product. It’s been known as Plumber’s Tape, Thread seal tape, Teflon tape, and PTFE tape. But it is essentially the same thing. When shopping in Home Depot or another hardware store, just ask a seller for “Teflon tape” and you’ll be fine. You will be understood even though there’s no product that carries the name “Teflon tape” because DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon products, has never produced plumber’s tape.
Interestingly, some tape manufacturers once used real Teflon material, applying DuPont’s fine powder to their own plumber’s tape. That was about 40-50 years ago. Those manufacturers were allowed to use the Teflon brand name on their tape only if they used the real Teflon powder in the production of their tapes.
Eventually, most tapes were made with knockoff versions of the same material (PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene), and those products cannot carry the Teflon brand (now owned by Chemours). Therefore, the usage of all those synonym names.
Today, a more common industry term for plumber’s tape is thread seal tape or thread-sealing tape. To make it even more confusing, the term plumber’s tape is often used to describe a metal [or more rarely plastic] strapping with many holes in it. The steel tape, like the one shown on the photo below, was designed to support pipe. So, this is a completely different product, do not confuse it with the thread seal tape.
How To Use Plumbers Tape?
Using plumber’s tape is a very straight-forward process, but a person needs to do it the right way. The main trick of correctly applying the tape to a pipe is to wrap it around the male edge of the pipe in the proper direction.
First, clean the male threads at the end of the pipe. Hold the pipe in your left hand, and wrap the tape around the threads in the clockwise direction.
So, you basically wrap the tape around the pipe in the opposite direction of how the pipe will turn into the fitting. Run the tape around the threads over the top of the pipe. When it’s done correctly, the friction of the mating threads will tighten the tape around the pipe, instead of bunching it up.
Make sure to maintain steady tension on the tape so it wraps snugly around the pipe. Work away from the end of the pipe, overlapping the tape as you go.
Make a few wraps around the pipe and finish near the end of the threads (opposite to the end of the pipe). Depending on the density of the tape, you may wrap the tape more or fewer times. For example, if you have a 2 mil density tape, make at least 4-6 turns. However, if you are using a thicker 4 mil density tape, then 2-3 wraps should be enough for a tight quality seal.
Rip the tape off the roll by pulling it sharply. The pipe is now ready to go into the fitting. Watch the video below to see it in action.
If you want to buy Plumbers Tape, the easiest way is to get it from the Amazon store.
You can learn more about Plumbers Tape by watching this educational video: