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When wrapping pipe threads with teflon tape (thread seal tape), what is the direction and recommended number of times to wrap the tape around the threads? Any other recommendations or tip/tricks when applying teflon tape?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Wrap clockwise - i.e. in the same direction as the tightening action of the nut. This means that you are also tightening the tape around the thread.

If you wrap anti-clockwise I find that the tape bunches up and comes away.

As for the number of layers - I usually wrap the tape around twice.

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Huh, I just naturally wrap it that way - never really thought about it before. Good to know my subconscious is looking out for me! (Either that or I got lucky.) –  Doresoom Nov 15 '10 at 14:30
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@Doresoom - I always have to think about this. I wish I could get it right every time! –  ChrisF Nov 15 '10 at 14:32
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Just use the right hand rule. If the end of the pipe is facing you, point the thumb of your right hand down the pipe and curl your fingers into a fist. The direction your fingers curl is clockwise. Either that, or you need to go to a hospital because your hand is broken. –  Doresoom Nov 15 '10 at 14:35
    
re: wrapping twice, thanks for the advice. Elbow joint on my dishwasher intake was giving me fits with a very slow leak with just a single wrap of tape. Double wrap of tape is holding so far :-) –  dave Aug 1 '11 at 3:38
    
I often wrap several times - just depends as you do not want so much that it prevents the full tightening but do want enough to seal. –  Mark Schultheiss Jun 22 '12 at 20:05

For the correct number of times to wrap the tape, check the instructions on the tape package (that tiny little printing in white plastic you can barely read). It should tell you. Different manufacturers will have different specs on this (depending on the thickness of the tape).

I highly recommend the higher-density pink teflon tape. It is a tiny bit more expensive, but I have found that it stays put on the threads much better and seals better.

The pink tape I use (CFPC) says:

  • 3 full wraps for pipes up to 1"
  • 4 wraps for pipes 1" - 1.5"
  • not to exceed pipes > 1.5"

Using too much tape is bad, too little is bad.

Oh, and ditto what ChrisF said about wrapping the tape in the proper direction!

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Good to know. I've always used WAY too much; like 20 wraps. But I've always been happy with the performance of it. This is the uber thing white stuff though. Thanks for the recommendations, I'll check the documentation next time and look for the pink stuff. –  Sean Reifschneider Dec 6 '10 at 7:53

Personally I would recommend avoiding teflon tape altogether and use TFE paste instead. It can be a bit messy, but aside from that it's pretty hard to do it wrong - just goop the stuff on there and screw it together.

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Is this rated to be used with PVC (plastic pipe) as well? I know some pipe dope cannot be used with plastic, because it will react with the pipe and cause future leaks and/or failures. –  Tester101 Nov 17 '10 at 17:39
    
@Tester101 - Not sure, can't say I've ever tried to use it with PVC or plastic fittings. –  Eric Petroelje Nov 18 '10 at 17:44
    
Some are OK for PVC or CPVC, but not ABS plastic. "Rectorseal T plus 2" is OK for all of the above, but "Rectorseal #5" is not. (Both are sold at my local Lowes and Home Depot.) –  msemack Jan 3 '11 at 18:00

I watched a qualified person install my on demand water heater and he used the paste followed by the yellow Teflon tape. I would do the same if I had to do an installation on my own. This fellow is knowledgeable and a very good friend.

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What paste did he use? –  Niall C. Oct 20 '12 at 14:29
    
I would at least get a second opinion on this--I've heard people (who also seemed knowledgeable, to me) say that they degrade each other when applied at the same time. –  msouth Jun 17 at 13:04

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