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How to Remove Plumber's Putty

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Plumber’s putty can come in handy for many problem areas when it comes to plumbing. It provides a waterproof seal that you can use around drains, taps, and other areas. The great thing about it is easy to apply and remove whenever you need to.

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If you have ever removed a tap from a sink and uncovered some clay-like residue under the bottom of the body of the faucet, that’s probably plumbers putty or otherwise known as plumbers sealant. Coming across it is quite common, so it’s important for you to learn how to remove it. Then you can replace parts cleanly without putting new putty over old putty.

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Why Use Plumber’s Putty

Any plumber worth his salt will keep some plumbers putty and a putty knife in his tool bag just in case. It is a great product because it retains its softness for quite a while and provides a watertight seal.

The benefit of using it over other kinds of caulk or silicone is that it is not adhesive. The good thing about that is that it makes it easier to remove later on.

In contrast, you’ll find that silicone is harder to work with. It dries faster and is more liquid than plumber’s putty. This makes it challenging to fill wider gaps with silicone. You are better off using plumber’s putty instead.

Where to Use Plumber’s Putty

Usually, you will find plumber’s putty used to seal around the edges of drains and faucets. It is spread there before setting them in place. This helps them to stay put.

Generally, you use it hidden under an edge or lip so that’ it’s not visible once the part is in place. That’s because it doesn’t give a smooth, professional finish when placed in plain sight.

What Is in Plumber’s Putty?

When purchasing plumber’s putty, you will realise that there is an array of blends available. Traditionally, the putty contains clay and linseed oil or mineral spirits, with perhaps a little fish oil as well. Many types will also possess some limestone.

Even if your brand doesn’t denote that it contains linseed oil, be aware that it still might. This is something to be careful of because mineral spirits and linseed oil can stain porous surfaces. That is why you should never use plumber’s putty on granite or marble.

If you are working with a sink made of either marble or granite, silicone is a much better option. This will avoid staining.

How to Use Plumber’s Putty

When you first open a container of plumber’s putty, you will notice that it is soft and malleable. It comes this way so that it is easy to apply.

Grab a ball of putty from the tub and roll it into a snake shape with your fingers. This snake should be more than long enough to fit all the way around the part you are sealing. Using multiple shorter bits of putty can cause leaks later on.

Place this snake around the edge you’d like to seal, looping so that the two ends meet up. Press it into place gently. Don’t push it flat or it may not connect with the part you insert.

Using a plumbers putty knife can help you make this job a little easier.

Then simply install the part. When you tighten it, you may see some putty overflow around the edges. This is what you want. Just wipe away any excess.

How to Remove Plumber’s Putty

If you're wanting to know how to remove plumbers putty, doing it the right way first time can save you a lot of time, and mess.

One of the reasons that plumber’s putty is so popular is that it is easy to remove. Because it is not adhesive, it can come off parts much easier than some alternatives such as silicone.

After it’s dry, all you need to do is press down on a plumbing joint. This should crack the putty and you’ll be able to pull away the part. Then you can simply chip off any excess putty with a putty knife.

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If you have trouble with removing some extremely stubborn putty, sometimes heat can help. You can use a heat gun or a hairdryer to direct some heat at the surface. This should soften the putty and make it easier to remove.

You may see that there is a ring of linseed oil left behind after this. This is easy to remove as well. Just wash it off with soap and water if scraping it off is ineffective. If that doesn’t do the trick, you could try mineral spirit or paint thinner. Wipe vigorously with a rag or cloth.

That's the easy way to remove plumbers putty or sealant using the easiest method.

That’s it – it’s as easy as that!

Plumber’s Putty Vs Silicone

Many people want to know about using plumber’s putty vs silicone. Which situation is best for using each one?

Plumber’s putty should be used for when you don’t need a permanent bond but are looking for a watertight seal. Using it on a drain, for example, can be a good option.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, silicone could be a better choice. When sealing outdoor plumbing fixtures, for example, this requires something stronger such as silicone.

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Plumber’s Putty Tips

Here is some advice for using plumber’s putty to make it easier to use and remove.

  • Sometimes, what you need is adhesive strength for the fixtures. If this is the case, plumber’s putty may not be your best bet and you may prefer silicone or another adhesive, we recommend a good quality putty knife for application.
  • Plumber’s putty should feel soft and be easy to roll between your fingers. If it is flaky or hard, then the putty is dried out. You should not use it – get a new bottle instead.
  • Always seal the putty lid. This will prevent it from drying out and mean you need to purchase it less often.
  • Clean the surface thoroughly before you start to apply the putty. This will aid in it sticking firmer to the surface. Otherwise, dirt and other particles can create tiny holes in the putty which may lead to leakage.

Now that you know how easy it is to remove plumber’s putty, perhaps you will use it more often. By simply chipping away at it and then using heat if necessary, it should work like a charm. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

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