Pipe repair tape is one of the most trusted solutions for fixing a leaking pipe. It is easy-to-use, quick to work and can provide a versatile repair which is resistant to pressure, heat, and chemicals.
Made from silicone, pipe repair tape is self-fusing and stretches to 300% its length. When wrapped around a leaking pipe, it will fuse into a solid rubber band over the damaged area, providing a high-strength repair which is pressure resistant up to 30bar – making it suitable for repairing live leaks on pipework where flow cannot be turned off.
That gives pipe repair tape an advantage over epoxy putty, which can only be used where there is little or no pressure. Pipe repair tape can withstand temperatures in excess of 200ºC and can be used on pipes carrying hot and cold water and chemicals.
Carrying out a repair using silicone tape is as easy as anchoring the tape to the pipework, stretching it and then wrapping. Unlike with putty, there is no preparataion required which allows for a quick repair.
When faced with a task where it is not possible to effectively wrap repair tape around pipework because of space constraints, then epoxy putty can be used to plug the leak area instead.
One important consideration to make when purchasing pipe repair tape is that the product you choose needs to have WRAS approval if it is to be used to repair a leaking pipe which supplies drinking water.
WRAS approval ensures that the pipe repair tape has been independently certified as being safe for use with water that is designated for human consumption. Any product that does not have WRAS approval could end up contaminating water and posing a health risk.
Repairs made using pipe repair tape should be further reinforced with layers of pipe repair bandage wrapped over the top. This provides a rock hard, impact resistant layer over the pipe repair tape for a permanent repair.
It is important not to confuse pipe repair tape with PTFE tape. While both are used on pipework, they have different purposes – and just to add to the confusion, PTFE tape goes by many different names.
PTFE tape is also known as plumber’s tape, Teflon tape and thread sealant tape. Having so many titles often leaves users scratching their heads as to which tape is most suitable for the repair they want to carry out when in fact, all four terms refer to the same product.
PTFE is short for polytetrafluoroethylene, the chemical compound which makes up the tape. A scientist working for the American chemical company DuPont discovered polytetrafluoroethylene in 1938, after which DuPont patented it as Teflon.
Teflon is in effect just a brand name for PTFE, in much the same way as Hoover is a brand of vacuum cleaner and Sellotape a type of sticky tape. The name plumber’s tape comes from the fact that most plumbers keep a roll of PTFE tape in their toolbox.
Both PTFE and silicone tapes share simialr properties. They have high melting points, are water resistant, cannot be damaged by most chemicals and solvents, are fully flexible and can be applied to a variety of surfaces.
PTFE tape however is mainly used for sealing threads – hence the name thread sealant tape. When wrapped around threaded pipe joints, it will help create a wateright seal by holding the components together. It can also be used to tightly bind other parts, such as leaking taps.
Repairs made with PTFE tape are only temporary. It should not be used to fix cracks or holes in pipework as it does not have the ability to glue effectively, nor does it fuse into a solid band capable of withstanding high pressure. For permanently sealing cracked pipes, pipe repair tape is a far more effective solution.
When not being used to fix leaking pipes, silicone tape can be adapted for a number of different applications. Its self fusing properties make it suitable for electrical applications, including wrapping damaged wires, insulating terminal blocks, sealing around cable glands and wrapping and sealing junction blocks.
Pipe repair tape can fix leaking petrol lines in cars and vehicles as well as exhaust pipes. In domestic settings, it has even been used to bind cables together at the back of televisions and for tying rose bushes, trees and other plants to wooden stakes.