Are you planning on installing a new showerhead yourself? Whether your old one
needs replacing or you’re looking to upgrade your current showerhead, installing one
is relatively easy.
However, showerhead connections often need to be sealed with Teflon tape before installation to prevent leaks and ensure a tight grip.
In this article, we’ll go over what Teflon tape is, why you may or may not need it, and
if you do, how to use it to seal your showerhead.
Here’s Why And Which Shower Head Need A Teflon Tape
Teflon tape is used on the shower head to prevent leaks and protects the threads
Make sure you apply it correctly and tightly by smoothing it over the surface of the threads without adding too much of it.
however, If your shower head is made from plastic and other materials weaker than metal, Teflon tape can damage the connection instead of making it more durable.
What Is A Teflon Tape?
Teflon tape, also known as plumber’s tape, PTFE tape, and thread seal tape, is a film tape that’s commonly used in plumbing to seal fixtures onto pipes, or sometimes
to connect pipes.
They’re made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which has an almost zero friction surface and doesn’t react to water.
The Teflon tape goes around the pipe threads of the part you’ll be attaching your showerhead onto.
The surface of the Teflon tape is compressible which gives the fixture you’ll be screwing onto it a tighter grip.
Adding a thin layer of Teflon tape not only prevents leaks but also gives the two pipes you’ll be fitting together with an easier, tighter glide while preventing the threads from being unscrewed.
The tape also serves to protect the threads from physical
wear and tear.
Getting the Right PTFE Tape
Did you know that there are as many as five types of Teflon tape that are used for different applications? You can easily recognize them by their colors.
- White Teflon tape is 3.5 mil thick and designed for general use on water pipes with threads that are ⅜ inches or smaller. It is the most affordable, common, and most often used. You’ve probably seen your plumber using white Teflon tape on pipes and tubes to prevent air and water leaks. Sometimes, you’ll see this in silver to match the pipes.
- Green tape is 3.7 mil thick and contains no petroleum and grease so that it can be used to seal oxygen lines.
- Pink tape also has a thickness of 3.7 mil but it’s made for sealing connections for drinking water, steam, and hydronic lines. It cannot be used on oxygen or gas lines.
- For sealing gas and oxygen connections, the 3.8 mil yellow tape is ideal. It’s also manufactured for chemical installations and sealing pipes that carry propane, natural gas, oil, and butane.
- The nickel-colored tape is the thickest at 4.3 mil. This type is used for more challenging conditions that involve aluminum, stainless steel, and brass threads.
Different tapes also have different densities from single to triple-density. The white tape you’ll be using to install your new showerhead is the thinnest and is single-density. Yellow tape is double density while pink is triple density.
While you’ll probably only need the white Teflon tape, it’s useful to know about the other kinds and their uses.
How To Use A Teflon Tape Correctly On Shower Head?
When you purchase a new showerhead, the package typically includes a piece of Teflon tape in the ideal length you need for sealing. If you use too much Teflon tape, it may become impossible to seal the showerhead.
If you have to use your own Teflon tape, estimate and cut the length you’ll need to go around the threads two to three times.
Once you have your Teflon tape ready, here’s what you need to do next:
- Remove your existing showerhead.
- Use an old toothbrush and dish soap to clean the threads to make sure there’s no residue like old Teflon tape on it.
- Wrap the Teflon tape around the showerhead two to three times and make sure to keep it tight and flat. The secret to
applying Teflon tape correctly is to wind it around the pipe in the direction in which you’ll be turning it. If you put it on in the opposite direction, there’s a tendency for the thread to loosen and result in a loose and leaky connection.
- Pull the end of the tape to smooth down any loose tape and tighten its grip around the threads.
- Screw on the new showerhead. You may need to use a wrench for this.
- Turn on the shower to test for leaks. If the joint where the pipes meet (known as the fitting) appears loose or leaks, try applying additional layers of Teflon tape until you get a secure and appropriately tight connection.
Does All Shower Head Need To Be Sealed With Teflon Tape?
In general, it’s better to seal your showerheads with Teflon tape. You may wonder: are there any drawbacks and if there are, do they outweigh the benefits? Let’s find out.
- Prevents Leaks
Teflon tape makes fittings much stronger and significantly reduces the risk of leakage.
- Protects Threads
Without Teflon tape, the threads on your shower head and the pipe it connects to are more prone to friction-related damage. When these two ends are screwed and unscrewed during installation, their threads tend to wear out faster without the tape.
Teflon tape isn’t that expensive. It’s also very economical to use since you only need to wrap it around the threads a few times.
- Saves Time and Money
Using Teflon tape saves you time and money because it makes installation easier, prevents leaks, and protects fittings so you can use your fixtures for longer.
The only drawback to using Teflon tape is it can make your fittings more difficult to separate. This will only happen if you put on too much of it. As long as you use it correctly (which isn’t hard to do), you shouldn’t have any problems.
When Should You Not Use Teflon Tape?
It’s fair to ask at this point if there are any instances when you don’t need or shouldn’t use Teflon tape.
The answer is, yes there are. You’ll want to take into consideration the material that your showerhead is made out of. If your shower head is made from plastic and other materials weaker than metal, Teflon tape can damage the connection instead of making it more durable.
Despite its flimsy appearance, Teflon tape is strong. Showerheads made from weaker materials will be difficult to unscrew without breaking.
Teflon tape may be used for showerheads and other home plumbing applications but it isn’t the best choice for certain industrial or factory uses. Why? It has a melting point of 620 degrees Celsius and can change shape under pressure.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Teflon Tape?
Teflon tape is undoubtedly a handy tool to have for installing new showerheads, repairing leaking pipes, protecting pipe threads, and creating tighter fittings.
But if you’re looking for alternatives, here are other sealants used in plumbing:
- Pipe Dope
Pipe dope is a liquid thread-sealing compound that helps seal connections just as well as Teflon tape. It’s also referred to as “thread compound” or “pipe sealant.” Pipe dope containers typically come with applicator caps that can be used to brush the pipe dope onto the threads before it’s attached to another pipe.
- Teflon Valve Packing
Teflon valve packing is also made from PTFE. It’s ideal for connections that involve large gaps or ridges. It’s a string-type seal that comes in rolls that wrap around the gaps in threads.
- PTFE Pipe Thread Sealant
Pipe thread sealant is a liquid compound that works similarly to pipe dope except it’s made of Teflon. Sometimes it’s applied on top of Teflon tape to provide a stronger seal in larger fittings.
Can Too Much Teflon Tape Cause Leaks?
If wrapped around in too many layers, Teflon tape won’t cause leaks but it will make it much more difficult to unscrew and screw on your showerhead. If you experience difficulty in screwing one pipe onto another, you’ve most likely applied too much tape and should remove the extra layers.
Conclusion: Too Little Tape Is Better Than Too Much
Teflon tape is easy to use and highly effective at strengthening piping connections and preventing leaks. Make sure you apply it correctly and tightly by smoothing it over the surface of the threads without adding too much of it.
If the fitting seems loose, it’s easier to add more rather than putting on too much and having to take it off. Teflon tape can only do its job if it’s used correctly.