6 Tips for Using Plumber's Tape for Repairs

Plumber's tape in a yellow wheel.

Teflon tape, or plumber's tape, is essential for the do-it-yourselfer making plumbing repairs. The non-adhesive tape works wonders when threading two plumbing components. These tips will help you use Teflon tape like a pro.

1. Find the Threads

If you are making a plumbing repair and you have to thread components together, use the Teflon tape. Teflon tape is designed to coat the threads of plumbing components and create a tighter seal. If you use Teflon tape on any plumbing repairs that involve threaded pipes you will have success.

2. Don’t Skimp on the Tape

Plumbing supplies against wood.

The whole purpose behind Teflon tape is to make a better seal between plumbing fixtures. When applying the tape, don’t skimp. Plumbers advise that you should wrap any component with the tape 4 to 6 times. That may seem like a lot but if you want to avoid leaks you have to apply enough tape to create a heavy seal.

3. Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

It is especially important to wrap the tape in the same way that you will turn the female component. For example, if you are replacing a showerhead, you will wrap the male component, the pipe, in the wall with Teflon tape. You will then thread the female component, the showerhead, on to the male. To tighten the shower head you will turn it to the right. This is the same way that you want to wrap the tape. This will help the tape go deep into the valleys of the threads.

4. No PVC

Teflon tape should not be used when threading PVC pipes. These pipes will need a cement treatment.

5. ½ Inch is the Best Size

A man uses blue plumber's tape.

Teflon tape comes in a number of different widths. Though ½ inch tape is not the only tape used by professional plumbers, it is the most versatile. It is small enough for little repairs, but wide enough to repair longer pipes. It is the best choice for do-it-yourselfers that don’t need to buy Teflon tape in various sizes for plumbing projects. Because DIYers won’t be using Teflon tape with the same frequency as professional plumbers, buying one or two rolls of ½ inch tape will work fine.

6. Don’t Fray the Tape

Just like anything else, all Teflon tape is not equal. Some of the more inexpensive products will fray rather easily. Frayed Teflon tape is useless for plumbing repairs. The frayed tape doesn’t coat the threads and can get caught when you attach the female components. Don’t simply buy the cheapest tape. Ask someone at your local home improvement store which brand is right for you. If you find that your tape frays you should return it to the store for a better brand.

That’s it. Teflon tape makes plumbing repairs a breeze. Follow these tips and you can make home repairs just like a pro.