Pipe Dope 101: Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated On March 5, 2023
What Is Pipe Dope

Do you know what pipe dope is? If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone! This is a relatively obscure topic, but it’s important to understand. 

Pipe dope is a substance, known as a thread sealant, that is used to seal pipe joints and prevent leaks. It’s made from various materials and works on various types of pipe material.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • What is pipe dope and what does it do?
  • How to use pipe dope
  • When to use pipe dope
  • Piping materials you can use with pipe dope
  • Where you can buy pipe dope

What's In This Guide?

      What Is Pipe Dope, And What Does It Do?

      Pipe dope is a thread pipe sealant designed to prevent leaks. It consists of different materials, including plastics, elastomers, and rubbers. 

      The threads in pipe connectors allow you to easily attach a connector to a piece of pipe. However, water can sometimes get through the threads if they don’t create an air-tight seal. Using a pipe joint compound creates the air-tight seal you’re looking for. 

      This pipe sealing agent has been used for many years and continues to be a popular choice among plumbers and homeowners alike. 

      There are several reasons why pipe dope is so popular:

      • It forms a tight seal that prevents leaking
      • It is resistant to temperature changes
      • It can be used on a variety of different types of pipes
      • It is relatively easy to apply – any novice DIY plumber can learn how to use it!

      The main pipe sealant alternative is thread seal tape, also known as Teflon tape, ptfe tape, or plumber’s tape. Pipe dope is considered a more permanent solution than sealant tape, which is more of a temporary solution.

      Did You Know? The average household loses 10,000 gallons of water every year from leaks.

      did you know What Is Pipe Dope

      How To Use Pipe Dope

      Pipe dope is an important part of your residential plumbing system and should be used whenever you are connecting two pieces of threaded pipe together. 

      To use pipe dope, put a small amount of the material on the threaded connection of the fitting, then screw the fitting onto the pipe. It’s that easy!

      Depending on the type of pipe dope you are using, the application process will vary slightly. 

      However, there are some general tips that you can follow to ensure that your pipe dope is applied properly and your pipes will be tightly sealed and leak-free.:

      • Use the right pipe thread sealant for the job
      • A small amount goes a long way – don’t use too much
      • Only put pipe dope on the male thread
      • Do not overtighten the pipe fittings!
      • Wipe away any excess pipe dope with a clean cloth.

      Watch the video below to learn more about using different sealants (including pipe dope) on threaded plumbing connections:

      When To Use Pipe Dope

      There are a few different scenarios when you might need to use pipe dope. 

      One of the most common is when you are connecting threaded metal fittings together, such as when installing a new faucet or toilet. In this case, pipe dope can be used to help create an airtight seal and prevent leaks. 

      Other times you might need to use pipe dope include:

      • When connecting pipes made from different materials
      • When working with older pipes that may be corroded
      • When connecting pipes that will be carrying hot liquids
      • When sealing an underground storage tank

      Piping Materials You Can Use With Pipe Dope

      Pipe dope can be used on a variety of different materials, including metal, plastic, PVC pipe, copper pipe, and more. However, copper pipes typically use solder.

      It is important to choose the right type of pipe dope for the material you are working with. For example, pipe dope designed for use on metal pipes will not be effective on plastic pipes and vice versa. 

      Not all pipe dope products work on plastic pipe since plastic threads won’t hold the thread compound as securely as they won’t have adequate chemical compatibility. PVC threads have a certain solvent resistance. Thread sealant tape or PVC glue may produce better results when working with plastic tubing.

      Furthermore, you may want to be careful when using pipe dope to seal a gas leak in a gas line.

      Be sure to read the labels carefully before purchasing pipe dope to ensure that you are getting the right product for your needs.

      Where Can You Buy Pipe Dope

      Pipe dope is available at most hardware stores and online through Amazon. It typically comes in either a small tube or a larger container. If you are only using pipe dope occasionally, the small tube will likely be sufficient. However, if you do a lot of plumbing or have multiple projects that require pipe dope, the larger container may be a better option.

      Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Pipe Dope

      What is pipe dope used for?

      Pipe dope is used to prevent leaks at connections in water pipes or gas pipes by filling in the threaded joint to create an airtight seal. 

      Is pipe dope the same as Teflon tape?

      Thread tape isn’t as long-lasting as pipe dope. For that reason, most plumbers prefer to use pipe dope for connections inside walls and permanent solutions.

      Should I use pipe dope on brass fittings?

      You can absolutely use pipe dope on brass fittings. You can use them on all metal fittings. Many products also work on PVC pipe. However, some products aren’t compatible with plastic. Read product descriptions carefully before you make a purchase!

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      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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