Things that every homeowner should know

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Brass pipe

This section is written for brass pipe, but the methods also apply to other kinds of pipe. Galvanized, black pipe, and even stainless steel pipe. Threaded copper connections too. Any fittings that involve iron pipe threads.

Brass pipe(the set of fittings in the left of the picture) is connected by screwing the pipe into various fittings. The pipe threads get covered in thread sealant. The thread sealant can be a paste that gets brushed onto the pipe threads, which is commonly referred to as "pipe dope" or a teflon tape(known as tape dope) can pulled tightly around the threads. Both have their place in plumbing.


Pipe Dope

Pipe dope is a paste that is smeared onto the threads of the pipe. This was the earlier method of sealing threads. It can still be used for almost any kind of fitting, but for most pressurized joints tape dope is generally considered the better choice. Pipe dope must be used with gas(lp and natural), unless special yellow colored tape dope is used.

Tape Dope

Tape dope is frequently used these days. The tape is simply wrapped around the threads, pulling it snug each wrap, so it stays tight on the pipe. The number of wraps varies, usually from 4 wraps to 10. Experience has shown that 10 wraps or so will work fine.

The tape also needs to be applied in the correct direction. Since the threaded connection will be connected by turning the pipe clock-wise, the tape should also be applied by turning the pipe clock-wise. If the pipe is stationary and the tape is moving, the tape is technically going counter clock-wise. The thing to remember if you get confused is that the tape should be getting tighter against the pipe as it is assembled. If installed the wrong way, the tape will get caught, bunch up, and appear to come undone.

TIP-for added protection on an important fitting or if a portion of the connection is questionable, apply 5-6 wraps of tape dope, then smear a layer of pipe dope on top of the tape.


Once the sealant is applied, the pipe(or male end) gets screwed into the fitting(female end). The connection then gets tightened with pipe wrenches, adjustable wrenches or a combination of both. One of the wrenches should be on the female portion for support. A joint should never be tightened with just one wrench, except in rare cases when no other option is available.

Free Online Plumber does not warrant any of the information on this page, in regards to the accuracy or effectiveness of these procedures or this information. Always check and follow all applicable local plumbing codes.
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