Plumber’s putty can come in handy for many problem areas for plumbing. It provides a waterproof seal that you can use around sink drains, taps, etc. The great thing about it is easy to apply and remove whenever you need to.
If you have ever removed a tap from a sink and uncovered some clay-like residue under the bottom of the faucet's body, that’s probably plumbers putty, otherwise known as plumbers sealant. Coming across a dried plumber's putty is pretty standard, so you must learn how to remove it. Then you can replace plumbing fixtures cleanly without putting new putty over old putty.
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 an excellent product because it retains its softness for 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.
In contrast, you’ll find that silicone is harder to work with. It dries faster and is more liquid than a plumber’s putty. This makes it challenging to fill wider gaps with silicone. You are better off using a plumber’s putty instead.
Where to Use Plumber’s Putty
Usually, you will find a plumber’s putty to seal around the edges of drains and faucets. It is spread there before setting them in place. This helps fixtures like your sink drains to stay put.
Generally, you use this watertight bond hidden under an edge or lip not visible once the part is in place. Placing in plain sight doesn’t give a smooth, professional finish.
What Is in Plumber’s Putty?
When purchasing a plumber’s putty, you will realise an array of blends available. Traditionally, the putty contains clay, linseed oil, mineral spirits, and perhaps a little fish oil. 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. You should never use a plumber’s putty on granite or marble.
Silicone is better if you work with a sink made of marble or granite. 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 long enough to fit 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. Press it into place gently. Please don’t push it flat, or it may not connect with the part you insert.
Using a plumber’s putty knife can help you make this job a little easier.
Then install the part. You may see some putty overflow around the edges when you tighten it. This is what you want. Just wipe away any excess.
How to Remove Plumber’s Putty
If you want to know how to remove plumbers’ putty, doing it the right way the 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 more accessible 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 from the part. Then you can chip off any excess putty with a putty knife.
If you have trouble removing some extremely stubborn putty, sometimes the heat can help. You can use a heat gun or a hairdryer to direct some heat to the surface. This should soften the putty and make it easier to remove.
You may see a ring of linseed oil left behind after this. This is easy to remove as well. If scraping it off is ineffective, wash it off with soap and water. 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 a plumber’s 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 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.
Silicone could be better if you’re looking for a more permanent solution. For example, sealing outdoor plumbing fixtures requires something more substantial such as silicone. Marble and granite sinks will best be served with silicone than a plumber putty.
Plumber’s Putty Tips
Here is some advice for using a 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, a 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 complex, then the putty is dried out. It would help if you did not use it – get a new bottle instead.
- Permanently 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, leading to leakage.
Now that you know how easy removing a plumber’s putty is, perhaps you will use this waterproof seal more often. It should work like a charm by simply chipping away at it and then using heat if necessary. Try it for yourself and see what you think.