5 Tips for Tightening Plumbing Fittings

Plumbing pieces being tightened.

When working on your own plumbing, you must pay attention to your plumbing fittings. Taking the time now to check it could save you some problems later on down the road. The following information will offer you some tips you can use when tightening the plumbing fittings.

1. Screw it Tight, but Not Too Tight

For your plumbing to properly disperse water, the pipes do not have to be secured super tight. The thought is that tighter is better because water will always find a way to get out of a pipe. When it comes to household plumbing, however, this simply is not the case. The way the plumbing fittings are made and put together, tightening the plumbing fittings too tight may actually hinder your project instead of just creating a tight seal. Many plumbing fittings have rubber seals inside them. If you tighten the fittings too tight, you can warp these seals. If that happens, there will be a higher probability of leaks.

2. Avoid Stripping the Threads

The plumbing fittings are typically wide bolts. Inside each fitting are threads that screw on to the pipes to make a tight fitting. If you tighten the fittings too much, you run the risk of stripping these threads. Like any type of screw or bolt, if you strip a thread, you will find that it is harder to loosen the fitting as well as to turn it. This creates the potential for leaks to form or, in a worst-case scenario, a pipe to break under extreme circumstances such as cold or high pressure.

3. Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

When you put in a screw, turning it to the left loosens the screw and turning it to the right tightens it. The same thing applies to plumbing fittings. If you remember which way you have to turn the fitting, you will avoid a bad seal or plumbing fittings that are potentially stripped. It is a common mistake that can easily be avoided.

4. Plumber's Tape

A handy tool of the plumber, plumber's tape creates a stronger seal that is waterproof. The tape is typically made from Teflon. Using this tape around your plumbing fittings while you tighten them will prevent you from tightening them too much. It will also protect against leaking where the fittings connects.

5. Keep the Plumbing Fittings Warm

If the pipes you are working on are outside it is a good idea to keep the fittings wrapped in magnetic insulation. When water shoots through a pipe and the air outside is extremely cold you could be facing freezing pipes, burst pipes, and cracked seals. Wrapping the fittings will help keep the temperatures stable all year.