When repairing or installing plumbing fixtures or pipes, it’s important to seal threaded connections with a sealant. The sealant prevents leakage through the connections.

One of the most commonly used sealant in plumbing is Teflon tape. It’s typically wrapped around the threads of a fixture before connecting a fitting.

As such, the connection created is tightly sealed against leakage. However, using Teflon tape is not always the best sealant for some situations.

plumber using teflon tape on a pipe


Shortcomings of Teflon Tape

Teflon tape is a commonly used thread sealant today. It’s generally wrapped twice around pipe threads. Once wrapped, it’s cut from the main roll. The fitting is then attached.

Using Teflon tape is adequate for most plumbing applications. However, in some instances, the pipe threads may get damaged such that it’s challenging to get a tight seal.

The distance existing between the connected threads may be wide such that water seeps through the connection.

In some situations, you may lack enough space for wrapping the tape. In such situations, you’d need an alternative sealant to create a tight connection.


Pipe Dope

Pipe dope, also referred to as pipe joint sealant/compound, is a form of liquid used in sealing threads just like tape. The container comes with a cap that has a swab brush attached to it.

The brush is used for applying pipe dope on pipe threads before attaching the fitting. Pipe dope doesn’t harden over time such that the connection created remains tightly sealed and can be removed easily when needed.

Pipe dope works by filling the gaps within the connection as it is a liquid. It can seal larger gaps than tape. It doesn’t take a lot of space like tape.


Teflon Valve Packing

Valve packing, a form of Teflon, was designed for application as a bushing or gasket. It’s used as an alternative for O-rings.

Valve packing is also ideal for use in connections that come with large gaps. It’s also ideal for use in connections that come with a ridge.

In this case, the ridge may be sealed using O-rings. Although it’s not an alternative for tape, it’s ideal for sealing connections in some instances.


PTFE Pipe Thread Sealant

PTFE works as a thread sealant. It’s made of Teflon as part of its components. Teflon works as a lubricant in PTFE. However, PTFE seals threads like pipe dope.

It maintains a tight seal despite exposure to extreme pressure, temperature, and chemicals. Its effect as a thread sealant is the same as that of Teflon tape. A better seal can be created by applying pipe dope on top of PTFE.


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