Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The dangers of Teflon Tape

Thread tape, Plumbers tape, whatever you want to call it. You may have seen it used on hose fittings to help keep fluid inside. What many people don't know and can cause quite major problems is that you must be very careful about how it is applied. I recently replaced the shower rose in our bathroom so I will use that as an example here.

These are pictures of the old fitting and the wall fixture. It's a little difficult to see but the tape has been cut off the end of the thread and has gotten into the pipe and is partially blocking flow. In a shower this is not much of an issue, however when I used thread tape to seal up the transmission cooler hoses on the Jeep I had it could've caused some quite major problems if pieces had come loose.

These are the bits that I pulled from both the shower head and the wall fitting. Could be bad.
This is how I've been taught to apply this tape. Yes I know it's pink not white but it's all that I found around the house.
You need to wrap the tape so that when the fitting screws in it tights, not undoes the tape. On a standard right hand thread this means going clockwise around the thread. Another, lesser known trick is to feed the roll of tape in such a way that you can maintain even tension. If you look at the above picture you can see that the roll is away from the pipe. This means that I can ensure there is enough tension on there to pull the tape down into the threads and make for a good seal.

I usually do 2 or 3 wraps, but this depends on the depth and sharpness of the threads. Putting too much on will make it hard to screw the fitting together and can cause bits to be cut off and carried into the flow. To finish applying the tape I just pull quite hard on the tape while keeping it as if I just wanted to increase the tension of the wraps. This will stretch the tape until it tears and will leave it nice and neat.
If you find that you've wound the tape the wrong way when you start to screw the fitting together then simply unwind the tape and start again in the other direction.

Here we are, a new water saving shower head that will hopefully start to save us some money. A fairly easy thing to do for the average homeowner and over the course of a number of years can make quite a considerable difference.

I hope you find this useful at some point and if you've got any other ideas on how to apply plumbing tape please share below in the comments.

Cheers,
Rex