When Not To Use Plumbers Putty

By Ann Hills / a couple of years ago

The plumbers putty is a must-have necessity in a plumber's toolbox. It’s soft and pliable, especially when sealing leaky faucets, drains, and other plumbing jobs. When dry, it forms a clay-like material and remains soft for quite a long time after use. It’s an ideal sealant for joints you intend to keep servicing because of its soft and pliable nature. This sealant is fairly easy to use and perhaps the reason for its popularity among plumbers. Additionally, unlike caulk, it’s fairly easy to clean after making a mess. However, it’s not the ideal sealant in certain plumbing jobs, some of which will be touched on in this article.

Taking this into account, below are instances when not to use the plumbers putty.

When Fixing a Broken Pipes

Plumbers putty is to be used on specific areas that leak. It’s a common mistake to use plumbing putty as an adhesive. Ideally, when repairing a broken pipe, you would use a fast-drying adhesive or sealant. But as earlier mentioned, plumbers putty is soft and it takes time to dry off completely. According to SoCal's Sewer and Drain Experts’ website, plumbing leaks are among the most common causes of water wastage and flood damage. Instead of reaching for your plumbers putty when you experience a leak, it’s best to call an expert right away to avoid costly damages to your property. Even for the most minor of plumbing jobs that you take up DIY, it’s best to always research the correct uses of sealants before using them. Repairing a broken pipe with a plumbers putty would be a total waste of time considering the time it takes to dry and the fact that it doesn’t withstand pressure.

When Sealing The Sink Rim And Sink Vanity Areas On The Wall

Plumbers putty contains oils and chemicals that may discolor certain surfaces. Now, because of the oil contents, plumbing putty is best used on Formica countertops. When repairing plumbing around granite countertops or fancy fixtures around the home, it’s important to carefully examine the products used. This is especially true when working around gold and brass fixtures because they have a special type of protection that should not come into contact with contents such as are found in plumbers putty. Using plumbers putty on granite or marble surfaces will leave stains that are hard to get rid of. Instead, you may need to consider other alternatives such as silicone caulk or thread tape sealants. However, all products should be used as directed by the manufacturer for the best results.

When Sealing Pressure Pipes

Different plumbers putty brands have different ingredients and this may explain why some brands dry better or remain malleable longer than others. This is why plumbers putty or Teflon tape is ideal for repairs or applications where a reversible seal is required. However, plumbing putty should not be applied to high-pressure pipes. The soft nature and the slow drying rate make it easy for this sealant to wash off or ideally, cause another leak. To help you out, we’ve outlined the most applicable uses of plumbers putty, they include:

  • Sinks – The plumbers putty is best used around the rim of the sink to prevent leaks under the sink. It creates a watertight barrier when all the sink apparatus is tightly adjusted.
  • Drains and drain pipes – These are low-pressure pipes and you need not worry about using the plumbers putty here. Use the plumbers putty when sealing the bathroom and sink drains
  • Toilets – Use the plumbers putty when sealing the toilet to the floor. However, you need to be extra cautious when doing this. Preferably, leave a small gap rather than sealing all the way around the bottom of your toilet. This will help to prevent your floor from damaging in case there was a leak.
  • Low-pressure water pipes – As earlier mentioned, plumbers putty does not hold well under pressure. Only use it on pipes with low pressure or pipes that you would want to use temporarily.

When Sealing PVC Pipes

Plumbing putty should not be used on PVC pipes because, as earlier mentioned, it contains oil-based products. These products will only work towards deteriorating the pipes. Additionally, because of the oily contents, it will only lubricate the pipes, making them more slippery and easy to over tighten. Only use a sealant that doesn’t make your pipes slippery and sealants that are compatible with PVC pipes.


Finally, it’s always important to ensure that you’ve prepared your joint surfaces before using any plumbing sealant. This applies to all the known sealants and plumbers putty is no exception. Most importantly, buy your sealants from renowned manufacturers who provide you with sealing instructions. This will make it easier to avoid the most common plumbing mistakes.

About the author

Ann Hills

My name is Ann Hills and I am a food blogger and a yoga teacher. When I was a child, I often got around my mother and watched her cooking in our kitchen. My mom always says to me that: “Kitchen is the heart of any home”. I strongly believe in her saying that’s reason why I prefer spending my money to make my home better than other stuff.

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