Does Pipe Tape Stop Leaks?
As a homeowner, you will experience a leaky pipe at least once in your lifetime. Knowing what to do in such a situation can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in water damages.
One of the ways to patch up a leaky pipe is by using pipe leak tape which is both cheap and easy to apply. How does it work though?
Pipe leak tape does indeed stop leaks albeit temporarily. They buy you time as you call in a plumber to fix the problem. Pipe leak tapes are not a permanent method of fixing leaking pipes and should never be used as such.
Gorilla and Flex seal tapes are two of the most common and probably best pipe leak tapes in the market. So, how good are they? Do they even work?
Gorilla and Flex seal tapes works very well on leaky pipes and are incredibly easy to use. However, this is a temporary solution to the problem and you should call in a plumber for a permanent solution otherwise water will soon start to leak through the tape.
While duct tape can be used to temporarily stop leaking pipes, it doesn’t always work as well as self-amalgamating tapes since it is not fully waterproof. If however it is the only tape you have, you can definitely use it or even an electrical tape.
One thing to remember is that if the water pressure in your house is too high, the pipe leak tape will not work well. You will still have some water dripping from the tape.
One thing you can do in this case is to locate your house’s pressure reducing valve (PRV) and adjust down the water pressure. Adjusting your house water pressure is easy and you will only need a screwdriver and a wrench.
Alternatively, you can turn off water to the house at the main water shut off valve. This will reduce the pressure in the lines until the plumber comes.
Types of Pipe Leak Tapes
A pipe will leak around the joints (the threaded connections) or along the actual body of the pipe. The leak is sometimes due to a tiny pin-hole sized opening or a thin crack/fracture on the pipe.
The type of tape to use when the pipe is leaking from the joint is different from the one to use when your pipe is leaking from a crack on the body. Let us look at the 2 types of pipe leak tapes.
1. Pipe Thread Tape
Pipe thread tape, also known as thread seal tape, PTFE tape, plumber’s tape or Teflon tape is a thin tape (usually white) used to create a watertight seal in plumbing joints. Apart from that, pipe thread tape lubricates the connection.
Pipe thread tape also makes disconnecting the tape easier. As you know, it is very easy for pipe joints to corrode or develop mineral scale buildup which makes them quite hard to loosen. With pipe thread tape however, disconnecting the joint is way easier since corrosion is unlikely.
If the pipes in your house were installed without Teflon tape, one of the joint will at one point start to leak. Teflon tape can also wear out after time resulting in leaks.
Another thing that causes pipe joints to leak is loosening of the connection. Vibration of the water as it moves through the pipe and sometimes even banging (water hammers) can cause the pipes joints to loosen resulting in leaks.
If you have a leaking pipe joint, Teflon tape will surely stop the leak. Unlike the self-amalgamating tape, pipe thread tape is considered a permanent solution, but as you and I both know, there is nothing permanent in plumbing.
What it means is that you will not need to call a plumber to fix the leaking pipe joint again after fixing the leak using Teflon tape yourself.
2. Silicon Tape
Silicon tape, also known as self-amalgamating tape or self-fusing tape is used to fix water leaks in water pipes as a result of tiny holes or cracks (not joints). They provide a temporary relief as you plan to have a plumber come over and fix the leak permanently.
This type of tape is known as self-amalgamating or self-fusing tape due to its self-adhesive property. What that means is that it does not stick on the pipe but will instead stick to itself. Unlike other tapes, silicon pipe leak tapes are waterproof and therefore more effective in fixing leaks.
Although these tapes are commonly known as pipe leak tapes, they do not work in pipes only. You can use them to seal off a leaking water tank, bucket, hoses or any other surface that is supposed to be waterproof.
What is even better is that the good ones can work even under water. There is actually a video on the same that was done by the team at Flex Seal Tape.
How to Repair a Leaking Pipe with Tape
The good thing is that repairing a leaking pipe using tape is a DIY activity that should not take you more than 10 minutes to finish.
How to Repair a Leaky Pipe Using Pipe Thread Tape
- The first thing you will need to do is turn off the water. If the pipe you are repairing has a dedicated shut off valve turn it off otherwise you will have to turn off the main house shut off valve.
- Let the pipe drain out.
- Disconnect the pipe.
- Clean the threads. It is highly likely that the threads will be corroded or even have old Teflon tape. Use a wire brush or even an old tooth brush to clean the threads.
- Apply the Teflon tape. One of the things most people don’t know is which way to apply the Teflon tape.
- To correctly apply plumber’s tape, pull out a small section of the tape and place it flat on the threaded end of the male connection to line up with the second thread. Wrap the tape in the direction of the threads (usually clockwise) about 4 to 6 times nicely overlapped to cover all threads.
- While done applying the tape, cut it clean. Place your thumb firmly where you want to cut it and pull the roll of tape sharply with your other hand.
- Connect the two pipes together and tighten the connection using a wrench.
Pipe thread tape works well on threaded metal joints. If you have a leaking PVC pipe joint, use a pipe sealant.
How to Repair a Leaky Pipe Using a Self-Fusing Pipe Repair Tape
Fixing a leaking pipe using self-amalgamating pipe tape is so easy and fast. Here is how:
- Start by locating the leak. Sometimes the leaky pipe is in your basement, crawlspace or even ceiling and all you can see is a pool of water on the floor.
- Turn off the water to the pipe.
- Let the water inside the pipe drain out.
- Dry the area around the hole/fracture.
- Start wrapping the tape around the fractured pipe. For best results, you need to wrap the tape as tightly as you can. Do not forget to overwrap it severally. Instead of only wrapping the tape around the leaking area, wrap it also a few inches away from the leak on both sides of the pipe.
- Turn on the water and check if the leaking has stopped.
- Contact a plumber to come over for a permanent solution.
And basically that is how to fix a leaking pipe using pipe leak tape. I hope you found this post useful.
Best Waterproof Tape for Leaking Pipes
The following are some of the best self-amalgamating tapes for fixing leaking pipes: