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I cannot find one source on the Internet that addresses what to do when you’ve wrapped the threads with Teflon, threaded the fitting on and threaded until it’s pointing in the right direction, and it’s not tight but it won’t go around again.

The most common example is shower head nipples but the same problem applies with drop fittings. I’ve included some examples.

I did the customary 3 wrap, and wasn’t tight enough, so I unwrapped and did 7 wrap. That worked on one, another took 10.

I mean, this is the way to do it, but why can’t I find anyone online admitting that this janky method is the solution. And if there is some other trick, please let me know cuz baby needs a new pair of shoes and I ain’t got time for this.

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EDIT: this isn’t an answer, but it solved my problem. I replaced the elbow fittings with straight fittings and I used elbows in the pipes instead. This way I could crank down on the threaded fittings.

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  • Since each fitting may need to point in a different direction, it might be hard to say "4" is the magic number. Which way did the fitting that took 7 wraps point? That may be the magic number for all fitting pointing that direction, while the 10 wrap fitting pointed in a different direction and all fittings pointing that way may take 10 wraps. – FreeMan Jul 1 at 4:07
  • @FreeMan the fittings that point down - one took 7 wraps. One took ten. These are pex fittings so the final position can vary about 20 degrees. But if I was using rigid pipe I’d have zero tolerance. – jqning Jul 1 at 10:34
  • I'd wait for more knowledgeable people to stop by, but I think you may end up having to live with ±20° and count on the flex in the PEX to get your there. If you were using rigid pipe, you would probably be cutting your own threads and you could cut an extra 20° of thread to get to exactly where you needed to be. That said, I feel your pain - my shower head extension doesn't point straight down. :( My solution: Live with it for 20+ years... – FreeMan Jul 1 at 13:29
  • I have used several wraps on problem fittings, not counting. Never had a problem , Teflon is soft and slippery., – blacksmith37 Jul 1 at 14:54
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I was taught to never exceed 3 wraps of Teflon tape, because all it is there for is to lubricate the threads and fill in the microscopic gaps between the tapered threads. Too much tape and you interfere with the threads meshing to hold pressure, so you end u relying on the tape to do that, and it was not designed for that purpose. If you read the instructions that come with the tape, it probably says that.

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    That’s basically what the entire internet says. But I need that fitting to be tight and point straight up. Three wraps gets tight less than 90 degrees past straight up. So three wraps is loose. That’s exactly what I’m asking. – jqning Jul 1 at 10:31
  • @jqning, think outside of the box ... if you have a fitting like the bottom one in the picture, then flip it ... then three wraps will be 90 degrees before straight up – jsotola Jul 1 at 17:01
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What I do is first screw the fitting on with no tape and see where it ends up. If it's 90 degrees past where I want it I unscrew it and add a wrap of tape or maybe a wrap and a half for each 90 degrees. It varies depending on the fitting but the key is to start with no tape and adjust from there.
Like some things with plumbing it's as much art as science.

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  • What if it ends up perfect with no tape, but is leaky? – FreeMan Jul 1 at 14:17
  • That occasionally happens.. I'll first try one wrap of tape and try to force it to position A. There's usually some play in it. If that doesn't work, add extra layers. It can be trial and error but at least by starting with no tape you have a base position to start. – HoneyDo Jul 1 at 14:27
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Maybe teflon tape isn't the right product for your application. Try pipe joint compound aka "pipe dope." It is a paste applied to the threads with a brush. I find that it does the job (seals the connection) in situations where teflon tape wouldn't.

You might also be over-estimating what "tight enough" feels like. It doesn't have to be tightened to the limit of your physical ability; a quarter to a half turn past what can be done by hand is often sufficient. Frequently one can achieve a full turn beyond hand-tight if necessary to get the fitting clocked just right.

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