Plumber's Tape is not a tape at all. It thin strips of "puttylike" material which is used to ensure a good watertight seal on threaded pipes. When trying to seal non-threaded fixtures plumber's putty should be used instead.
Plumber's tape is made of a carbon and fluoride compound called polytetrafluroethylene, PTFE for short. PTFE is also used to coat non-stick cookware. Carbon compounds are generally strong and stable which make them safe to use in the home environment. PTFE doesn't corrode or rust and this makes it ideal for keeping pipes sealed for a long time.
Another name for plumber's tape is Teflon tape and we all know that nonstick cookware is called Teflon as well. Teflon has a lot of other uses but these two are the most commonly used and recognized in the home. Teflon was invented by the fine folks at DuPont, and we owe them all a big thank you for many easily flipped pancakes and such.
The reason that plumber's tape is used is to ensure a good seal. Nothing will ruin your weekend like a leaky pipe so whether you're installing new pipes or trying to figure out where the water is coming from, plumber's tape is a good starting place.
Plumber's tape is pretty easy to use. Take the two pieces of pipe, clean any crud off the pipe's threads, put a strip of tape around the threads, and screw the pipes together. Make sure that the tape is running the same direction that the pipes will be turned to tighten, otherwise the tape can come loose and the seal will not be perfect. Oh yeah, I forgot â make sure the water's turned off before you start unscrewing water carrying pipes. We're trying to prevent water damage not increase it.
The natural color of this non tape tape is white but it can be found in different colors. The colors are used to designate what is going through the pipe. I've been talking about water but it is also used to seal gas pipes and any other type of pipe that contains a liquid of gas that you'd prefer stay in the pipe.
In the good old days before the fine folks at DuPont invented Teflon this messy putty called plumber's dope was used to seal threaded pipes. Plumber's tape is much easier and less messy than the old stuff. I don't mind messy projects but I prefer them to be as easy as possible.
Plumber's tape is pretty cheap. You can get a roll for about 2 dollars. It is also easy to find just check out the plumbing section of any home improvement or hardware store. Although all households do not keep it on hand, it's so cheap there's really no reason (except for never doing home repairs) not to have a roll on hand for when it's needed. If you have a roll in your toolbox when you decide to replace this pipe or repair that pipe you won't have to remember to buy some.
That's pretty much all you need to know, and maybe some that you didn't need to know, about plumber's tape. It's easy to use, cheap, and will save a lot of money in water damage repair because your pipes will not be as leaky as they might be without it.