Anyone use sewing thread as a pipe sealant?

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Old 02-06-09, 10:35 PM
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Anyone use sewing thread as a pipe sealant?

Does anybody use that sewing like thread as a pipe sealant anymore?

I saw some plumbers installing a 1 1/4" brass water line using it. I asked about it and they said it was better than teflon tape. It was a very thin white thread. It looked like cotton but I don't know that for sure.

The guy wrapped the thread round and round the pipe threads. It didn't look like he neccessarily followed the grooves of the pipe threads as he wrapped it about 10-12 times. Then he smeared pipe dope on top of the thread.

He said it was better than teflon tape. Is there a proper name for that stuff?
 
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Old 02-07-09, 06:27 AM
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Was this guy a really old timer? I can't imagine anyone doing that with the materials easily obtainable today. I recommend that all threaded joints be made up with two turns of Teflon tape and then a Teflon paste over the tape. If the pipe is larger than one inch nominal I use more tape. The exceptions to this rule are gas piping and oil piping.
 
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Old 02-07-09, 10:32 AM
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yes it is still used by many today. i cant remember the name of it but it is similar to packing rope
 
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Old 02-07-09, 10:45 AM
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Copied from here
Plumbing 101: Old style faucet washers + wicking

"The stuff you have is used on drainage tubing, called wicken, lamp wick, ball wick or whatever you choose to call it.I still use it occasionally with a P.I.T.A. drain. The stuff used on threads for sealant(along with dope) is called quick wick.

When I installed my Weil McLain home boiler, I had to remove the feed connection - about 1 1/4 inches a couple of times to get rid of a tiny leak. I had used only Teflon tape and it leaked. MORE Teflon tape did not work. I finally ended up with the old gray pipe dope and wicking to stop it.

3) Can wicking and pipe dope be used along with Teflon tape to seal or might there be a reaction between the Teflon and pipe dope such as the Teflon gets dissolved if that is possible ???

You can but its overkill. You may have wound the teflon the wrong way or something. Wicken will swell when it gets wet and therefore seals better then teflon...in my opinion."
 
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Old 02-07-09, 01:46 PM
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Thread on pipe

TomBrooklyn: Gunguy45 is right, its called lamp wick, brass PIPE has an uncanny way of leaking with teflon or dope; you can't overtighten it, it will stretch. With the junk fittings comming into the country it may become popular again.Beer 4U2
 
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Old 02-07-09, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Copied from here
Plumbing 101: Old style faucet washers + wicking

I had used only Teflon tape and it leaked. MORE Teflon tape did not work. I finally ended up with the old gray pipe dope and wicking to stop it.
Hi Gunguy. Just wanted to point out that since you made 2 changes in one step, you do not know what would have happened if you used teflon tape and gray pipe dope, instead. Unless of course you tried that and neglected to post that. Many plumbers swear by using both teflon tape and dope, combined to ensure no leaks.
 
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Old 02-07-09, 06:10 PM
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Ecman...I didn't make any changes..I just copied and pasted...don't think the format came through completely...thats why I posted the link to the page.

Ohh...wait I didn't do any of that...I was just posting some of the thread...

I swear...you old guys...lol...need to pay attention...

See..I figure if I call everyone else old...I never will be.
 
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Old 02-08-09, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by furd View Post
Was this guy a really old timer?
Hi furd,
No, the guy was about 25ish. The company he worked for that specializes in water and sewer mains has been around a very long time though. Maybe he picked that up from an old-timer in the company.


Originally Posted by furd View Post
I recommend that all threaded joints be made up with two turns of Teflon tape and then a Teflon paste over the tape. The exceptions to this rule are gas piping and oil piping.
Just curious...why do you treat gas and oil piping differently, and what do you like to use for them?
 
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Old 02-08-09, 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by plumbermandan View Post
yes it is still used by many today. i cant remember the name of it but it is similar to packing rope
My dad showed me how when a small water or steam valve (1/2", 3/4" etc) was leaking around the stem, you could fix it by removing the nut and wrapping it with cotton twine.

The stuff this guy used was very thin though. A little thinner even than regular sewing thread. What I thought was interesting too was that when he wrapped it, he didn't seem to worry about following the grooves of the pipe thread exactly.
 
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Old 02-08-09, 01:01 PM
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Thread on pipe

TomBrooklyn: "Just curious...why do you treat gas and oil piping differently, " I'll answer that, its usually a code issue, under no circumstances can you use lamp wick on gas, the teflon tape is banned by many areas; not all. Beer 4U2
 
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Old 02-08-09, 06:30 PM
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Over the years there have been numerous methods and materials used to seal tapered thread plumbing joints. As the years have passed the methods have become refined and with better materials there have been fewer and fewer people using the older methods and rightly so.

I'm old enough to know when litharge (lead oxide) and glycerin was mixed to use as a sealing compound. [My spell-check doesn't even know what litharge is] This was an excellent sealer but it set up rock-hard in a few hours so it needed to be mixed at the time of the job. It was also near impossible to unscrew the pipes when/if you need.

There was also the use of red lead and white lead paste. Using packing string (or lamp wick or the like) that had been doused with white lead paste and then run through your fingers was once a popular method. I seriously doubt that anyone could even find red or white lead paste these days.

Then there were various "patent" substances in paste or stick form. Many of these are still in use although often a different formula than was originally used since most of the originals contained lead.

For the most part, these days it is Teflon tape and/or a semi-liquid or paste type sealer. These are used by DIYers and professional plumbers and pipefitters on all sizes of threaded pipe. Some of the pastes have Teflon and some don't. Often it is more of a personal preference rather than any specific requirement that dictates which paste or semi-liquid sealer is used. Teflon tape also comes in different thicknesses for different sizes of pipe and different materials carried by the piping system.

For hydraulic oil systems I like an aneroid, hard setting semi liquid. Using Teflon tape on oil systems is asking for leaks and Teflon paste is rarely much better than tape on oil systems. For fuel oil my favorite was Permatex number 2 paste; I don't know if it is even made anymore. For fuel gas I like a Teflon paste that is listed for gas work or one of the other paste type sealers that is listed for the particular gas. Local codes will often dictate what sealer(s) are acceptable

There is still a place for string, wicking or whatever someone calls it in the repair field but I see no use for such in new construction. If you have old, worn or expanded screwed fittings that won't seal any other way, then the use of wicking can often enable a job to be done with minimal replacement of the old worn or expanded fittings.

There would be very few instances where someone would come across brass piping except short brass nipples. Brass was sometimes used early in the twentieth century but by now most of those systems have been replaced and the ones still around need replacement. Brass nipples can easily be replaced and then the new methods of sealing work well with new brass nipples.
 
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Old 02-08-09, 06:49 PM
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Hey Furd, how old are you anyway?

I thought I was getting old but have never even heard of some of the things you described. But you did do more commercial/industrial work than I if I am not mistaken.

In my city, we are not allowed to use permetex (the black stuff) that hardens completely on gas lines, because if a gas line were moved at some later lime by accident, the seal will break causing a leak. Only soft set is allowed on gas here.

Oil does not allow teflon, if you want your oil pump to be warrantied.
 

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Old 02-08-09, 07:21 PM
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I never said I actually did any of the old-time methods, just that I knew of them.

I don't know what different kinds of Permatex is now available. Back in my day it was mostly number one, number two and number three. Number one was sort of a dark red and it got really hard. Number two never completely hardened and number three (also called Aviation Permatex) was a semi-liquid that had a brush in the cap of the can. Number three never hardened completely.

I have seen Teflon tape used on hydraulic systems and that is an absolute no-no as the act of screwing together the fittings can cut the Teflon allowing threads of Teflon to be pumped through the system. That's why you are supposed to hold the tape back a minimum of two threads from the end of the fitting. It was primarily for this reasons that Teflon pastes were first developed. Trouble is, most hydraulic fluids have a petroleum base just as the Teflon pastes and therefore act as a solvent to the paste. The same is true when using Teflon in any form on fuel oil, it just doesn't work.

My last hydraulic job (lubricating and control oil on a large air compressor) had been piped using Teflon tape at the factory. It leaked at almost every fitting. When I completely retubed it I used a LockTite product that came in a squeeze bottle. It was a red liquid that would easily run around the threads of the fittings and then once torqued in place it hardened completely. That monster had no leaks when I finished.
 
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Old 02-09-09, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by shacko View Post
TomBrooklyn: "gas piping"
...its usually a code issue, under no circumstances can you use lamp wick on gas, the teflon tape is banned by many areas; not all.
Hi shacko,

Ya. Now that I thought about it, lamp wick requires getting wet to swell so naturally it wouldn't function as intended with gas.

I didn't know teflon tape was frowned up for natural gas in some jurisdictions though. Why is that? The yellow teflon tape is supposed to especially made for gas. (I think basically it's just thicker.) Does it not work as well as dope or was it found to be not as reliable, or more prone to inadequate installation or something?
 
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Old 02-09-09, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by TomBrooklyn View Post
I didn't know teflon tape was frowned up for natural gas in some jurisdictions though. Why is that? The yellow teflon tape is supposed to especially made for gas. (I think basically it's just thicker.) Does it not work as well as dope or was it found to be not as reliable, or more prone to inadequate installation or something?
I think the powers that be, would make the retailers pull it off the shelves, if that were the case. After all, we are talking 'gas' = explosion hazards. I've trusted the stuff already.
 
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Old 02-10-09, 03:12 PM
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you are supposed to use the yellow tape for gas, it is specially designed for it. i mean the manufacturers of gas appliances will specifically state that the use of pastes to connect the appliance will void the warranty because it can get into the regulator and cause problems. white teflon tape is not recommended for use with gas piping but everyone does and if your like me you add a touch of paste to aid in sealing the joint.

lok-tite is a good sealant unless you would like to get the fitting apart some day. the only application i have used it in is when i ran pressured steam piping
 
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