Plumbing often requires making connections between two or more pieces of pipe. Whenever it is required to make a connection between two threaded ends of a pipe, there is always the possibility of a leak occurring. The type of the pipe does not matter. Whether plastic or a steel gas line, the imperfection of threads make it nearly impossible not to have a leak without extra material placed on the threads.
There are two basic types of materials used to reinforce such connections. Teflon tape and pipe dope. Both have their pros and cons and sometimes are used simultaneously. Many plumbers or do-it-yourself practitioners argue about which of the two is better to use in certain scenarios. Well. Whatever the case, what is most important is that the leak is stopped to prevent damage.
This is commonly known as plumber’s tape. It comes spooled into rolls very much like adhesive tape. Teflon tape is designed to seal joints that are connected on threaded ends of a pipe to prevent leakage. It is a stretchy film that can be wrapped around the threads and is normally white in color but can be found in other colors denoting what the pipe is carrying.
- Yellow tape – seals gas lines
- Green tape – seals oxygen-carrying lines
- Pink tape – water lines (are usually of higher density)
- White tape – water lines (are usually of lower density)
This is a chemical sealant that has a texture similar to thick paste. It is made in such a way that it stands up against the types of fluids it comes in contact with. You can get it at any hardware store in varying sizes and with applicator brushes. It not only seals joints but also lubricates them, making it easy to unthread.
Teflon tape is common in almost every household to be used for reinforcing water pipes. It is generally less messy to use and works great for almost all residential application. This includes plastic water connections under the sink, to the hose lines in your garage compressor sitting to the threaded fitting in your sprinkler system for the lawn.
Natural Gas Lines
Chances are, you will have heavy steel pipes running in your walls if you have a stove, water heater, gas dryer or furnace in your home that carry natural gas. Natural gas is highly explosive therefore leaks within the pipes should greatly be avoided. Strict building codes require that these systems are tested beforehand by being pressurized with air for at least twenty hours to ensure there are no leaks. Building codes allow for any of the yellow types of Teflon tape be used for gas connections. However, several plumbers and inspectors prefer using pipe dope in this situation because it is thicker and seals better.
Whichever you decide to use is governed by the state you are in and your preference. Teflon tape and pipe dope have been around for much longer and some states require that it be used for natural gas lines and plumbing pipes in residential homes. Teflon tends to work better for faucets, air compressors, drains and water lines.