Plumbers putty is a clay like substance that is used for sealing leaks in plumbing. It is a vital item in every plumber’s toolbox and for them who are involved in DIY (do it yourself) plumbing jobs. The putty is durable, pliable and ensures watertight seals around drains and faucets.
There are different brands of putty like Oatey, Hercules, Harvey’s and Ace to name some. All of them work effectively. They are available in all hardware stores. Different brands of putty may contain different ingredients. Specialized clay is used in some products as a base material; some may use limestone or talc as one of the ingredients. Linseed oil and blended fish oils are also used by some brands.
Why is plumbers putty used?
Plumbers putty is used in making watertight seals as it is soft and easy to use. It is an item required by every household for fixing leaks. Plumbers use the product to install faucets and drains. The most important thing of the sealant is that it remains soft for a long time and it can be removed easily when the faucet or drain needs to get replaced.
Earlier, silicon was used to do this job but it is hard to remove when replacement is required. Moreover, silicon is very difficult to work with because of its low density and its drying time is significantly longer. On the other hand, plumbers putty is a dense, clay like substance that can be used instantly, saving time and effort. It seals leaks as effectively as silicon but is less messy.
Where is putty used?
Faucets and Drains
Faucets, drains and fixtures of sinks are the most common places where plumbers putty is specifically used. It is commonly used in fixing basket strainers or sink strainers and works as a good watertight sealant. It is also used to fix pop-up drains in sinks in the kitchen or bathroom. It is also used in joining tub shoes in tub drains.
Installation of sink is also done with the help of the putty. Use of plumbers putty in such tasks make watertight joints that ensure any leakage of water from countertop through the edges of the sink.
The putty should only be used to seal and join pipes that do not experience much water pressure. It is not good for use in sealing pipes that have a constant flow of water because they are soft and may not bear the pressure of flowing water. Instead sealing tapes must be used to seal such pipes.
It may be used to seal a toilet seat to the floor of a bathroom or any water leakage from the toilet floor may be fixed by plumber’s putty itself. Some brands of putty have certain oil in its ingredient that may leave stains in marble, granites and plastics. Special care should be taken while purchasing putty for its use on these surfaces. Some brands offer product that does not leave any stains in the surface where it is used.
How to use plumbers putty?
Plumbers putty is easy to use and can be conveniently used by anyone for plumbing purposes. The following steps will explain how to work with the putty.
- Close the water supply – Before starting, it is essential to turn off the water supply to stop the water passing from the surface that needs to be sealed.
- Clean the surfaces – The surfaces of faucets, pipes, drain and sink where plumbers putty is to be applied should be cleaned and dried properly. Using a towel or a cloth is best for this job as it will remove dirt and dust from the surfaces which may otherwise act as an obstacle for the putty to work properly and may eventually end up in creating leaks. A steel wool must be used for removing tough dirt and residues.
- Apply heat – The putty works best when a little heat is applied to the surfaces. A hair drier may be used for this purpose. It will help in drying the surfaces along with providing some heat.
- Mold the putty – The putty must be molded with both the hands in a long rope-like shape. This makes the substance soft and easy to use. Also the heat generated by hands helps make the putty soft and easy to apply.
- Apply the putty – The rope-like molded putty must be applied immediately on the surface that needs to be sealed. It should be applied gently on the threads of pipes and faucets neatly for better results. Tightening the joints and applying some pressure will ensure no gaps are left.
- Remove excess putty – After applying pressure a little bit of the excess putty might creep out. Remove this with the help of a damp cloth and clean the adjoining surfaces. Once dried the excess putty might become messy to remove. The excess putty may be kept in its container for its use in future.
- Allow it to dry – Sufficient time should be provided for the putty to dry before turning on the water supply. In case water is turned on before it dries, it may result in leaking and the whole process will need to get repeated. So, it is always better to ensure the putty is dry before using the surfaces.
Read more on how to use plumbers putty.
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Things to know before using Plumber’s Putty
A professional assistance should be taken in case of confusion about using the product and about the surface in which it needs to be used. A plumber should be contacted for any doubts. Local home improvement and hardware store may provide solutions to queries related with the putty.
The putty should always be soft while using if. If it is hardened, it will not work properly and will end up in a messy situation. It is thus, important to keep the container tightly closed after every use to ensure its efficiency.
The putty may leave stains on surfaces of granites, marbles and other porous surfaces, so it is advisable to check label of the product before buying it. Some brands may offer products that do not leave stains.
Read the directions carefully on the instruction manual attached with the product. This will help in easy and efficient use of plumbers putty in all sealing jobs.
Standard putty may stain granite or stone surfaces
Sealing sinks is one of the primary jobs that this product is used for. But in its basic form is not to be used on granite sinks or countertops. Its ingredients, especially oily substances, have a tendency to stain granite. Standard plumber’s putty should not be applied where it will come into contact with granite or marble. For these instances, other kinds of special putty are available.
When not to use
Other pipes and areas that need to be water tight can also be installed with plumbers putty. The clay material is a multi-purpose product and is useful in a number of situations. However, there are some instances in which you should not use this product. High pressure pipes will quickly push the putty out of the way.
Teflon Tape vs Putty
Teflon tape or pipe cement is the ideal method to create a seal in plumbing pipes that are subject to high pressure. Read more on this subject in this article: Plumbers Putty vs Teflon Tape.
Most homeowners also use a silicone caulk to seal areas that will be exposed to view. Silicone comes in a range of colors and can complement the finished looks around a tub or sink. Read more on plumbers putty vs silicon caulk.
Availability & storage
Plumber’s putty is regularly available at any major hardware store or online shop. It is found with the other plumbing products. This product is relatively inexpensive. When stored away in its sealed container, it can be kept for years without the product drying out. There are several brands and two types available. We recommend these top 5 products.
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