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There is a kind of rubbery sealant between my shower arm and the edges of the hole in the tile. What is this type of sealant, and when I replace the shower arm, how important is it to seal the new one in the same way?

Shower arm with sealant at tile interface

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    To me it appears there may have been a leak at one point, thoroughly check for one when removing the seal. This is the first installation I have seen that has the pipe threads showing. If I had to take a swag I would say there is a short nipple and coupler behind that wall. Be careful removing it. If you have access from the back check it first.
    – Gil
    Aug 25, 2022 at 0:13
  • It's kinda hard to see but that stuff that looks like threading is actually brush marks on the caulking; seems like the seal is okay.
    – Will
    Aug 25, 2022 at 21:06

2 Answers 2

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The tiles behind the shower form a waterproof layer that protects the structure of the house against water damage. That seal completes that layer and makes sure no water makes it back in there.

In short, yes, you should reapply the seal around the replacement pipe. The type will be a simple silicone caulk, you should easily be able to find a suitable one for bathroom use.

Removing existing caulk: Considering you don't want to damage the tiles, I'd carefully cut out as much as possible with a knife. You can probably (carefully!) tap out the rest with a simple flat head screwdriver, this stuff goes from sticky to rubbery pretty quickly after applying (which was years ago in your case), so any tear you introduce can be propagated. If you have access to both sides (for example because the other side of that wall is plasterboard), this becomes a lot easier.

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  • Thanks! What's the best way to remove the existing caulk?
    – Will
    Aug 24, 2022 at 20:31
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    Considering you don't want to damage the tiles, I'd carefully cut out as much as possible with a knife. You can probably (carefully!) tap out the rest with a simple flat head screwdriver, this stuff goes from sticky to rubbery pretty quickly after applying (years ago here), so any tear you introduce can be propagated. If you have access to both sides (for example because the other side of that wall is plasterboard), this becomes a lot easier.
    – MiG
    Aug 24, 2022 at 20:43
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    @MiG that comment would be an excellent addition to the answer itself.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 25, 2022 at 13:41
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    Good idea, removal instructions added.
    – MiG
    Aug 25, 2022 at 13:44
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It is some kind of caulking, maybe brown silicone for windows.

If replacing/removing the arm will need to replace the caulking. Silicone is usually recommended. Probably want the bath and tub type.

Will need to clean off all the old caulking before placing the new caulking. Very important.

Might think of getting a cover that fits over that pipe. Looks like one was there before.

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  • Thanks! What's the best way to remove the existing caulk? (asked this above as well)
    – Will
    Aug 24, 2022 at 20:32
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    @Will Usually rubbing/scraping with a plastic tool(flat edge or scraper) and washing. It is usually soft stuff.
    – crip659
    Aug 24, 2022 at 20:41

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