Home > Maintenance & Renovation > What Is the Best Sealant for Leaking Pipes?

What Is the Best Sealant for Leaking Pipes?

Updated Jan 20, 2023

Updated Jan 20, 2023

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > What Is the Best Sealant for Leaking Pipes?

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There are few homeowner headaches as frustrating as a leaking pipe. Be it under a sink, in the laundry room, or the bathroom, once the water begins to spray everywhere, you must drop everything and deal with it. Failure to quickly manage a leak can lead to serious problems like water damage, mold, and mildew. If the leak is bad enough, you may need to replace an entire section of piping, which can take time and require the help of a professional. When this happens, you’ll need a strong sealant to stop the leak while you wait for the repair to be complete or for a professional plumber to arrive. 

Unfortunately, picking the best tool for the job when a pipe bursts can be difficult. Different pipes require different sealants, and not every product is reliable. This guide will help you find the best sealant for leaking pipes by examining all the best tools and products on the market. 

How To Choose the Best Pipe Sealant

Before heading down to the nearest hardware store or opening up Amazon, you’ll want to look closely at the leak, your pipes, what they’re connected to, and the kinds of sealants available. Not every sealant will adhere to every pipe material, and if a pipe is too pressurized, it will burst through some sealants. Below is a quick overview of the most important factors to consider before purchasing any pipe sealant. 

What Kind of Leak Is It?

Pipe leaks broadly fall into three categories: pinhole, moderate, and gushing. These represent how much water is leaking out of the pipe and the potential danger the leak poses. 

Pinhole Leak

Pinhole leaks are small, difficult-to-find leaks that slowly release water from a pipe. If you have a pipe that drips a few drops of water every few seconds with no obvious outward signs of damage, that’s a pinhole leak. Pinhole leaks are often caused by sediment weakening the inside of the pipe, incorrectly applied seals or soldering, aging, rusting, and exposure. You can easily fix pinhole leaks with tapes, putty, and clamps, but finding them can be a real challenge. 

Moderate Leak

A moderate leak is anything larger than a pinhole and smaller than a gushing leak. These are the most common leaks that plumbers and homeowners have to deal with and are easy to spot. They send a light stream of trickling water along a pipe or create small, growing pools beneath it. Moderate leaks can be caused by: 

  • High water pressure 
  • Tree roots
  • Corrosion 
  • Improper installation
  • Aging 
  • Bad seals 
  • Physical stress or damage 
  • Clogs or joint breaks 

While not immediate emergencies like gushing leaks, you cannot ignore moderate leaks in a pipe. Fixing a moderate leak can require stronger holds than pinhole leaks, typically sealing putty, thread seals (for thread or joint leaks), patches and clamps, and higher-strength sealing tape. Furthermore, most sealants for moderate leaks won’t last forever and should be considered a temporary solution. You should always aim to replace the pipe section or contact a professional plumber for any leak larger than a pinhole. 

Gushing Leak

If you have a gushing leak, you’ll know it. These leaks are when a pipe fully bursts and begins spraying large amounts of water all over the place. Gushing leaks are emergencies and need to be handled ASAP. Immediately find the water supply valve for the pipe and shut it off, then seek the aid of a plumber. Gushing water leaks are some of the worst pipe breaks you can deal with and should never be handled DIY style. While some seals can hold a gushing pipe, they’re, at best, temporary fixes and your best bet is to order a full repair or replacement from a professional. 

What Is the Pipe’s Material? 

A pipe’s material will also dictate the kind of sealant you use. For example, petroleum-based sealants should not be used on synthetic pipes like PVC, as they’ll degrade the materials, making the leaks worse over time. When buying any sealant, always check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the sealant is designed for your type of pipe. 

How Pressurized Is the Pipe?

Generally, homeowners won’t need to worry about the pressure of their leaky pipes when picking a sealant. Household pipes shouldn’t have a pressure or pounds per square inch (PSI) above 80, and most pipe sealants are rated for a PSI much higher, usually between 1,000 to 10,000 PSI. However, remember that the PSI for water and gas is different, and sealants should have an individual gas and water PSI rating. When purchasing a sealant, you should check its water and gas PSI rating, especially when dealing with a commercial or non-standard pipe. 

Our Top Picks for the Best Sealants for Leaking Pipes

Below are some of the best pipe sealants on the market.

J-B Weld SteelStik



Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Strong short-term hold
  • Usable on metals, PVC, and ABS
  • Hardens fast

Cons

  • Reviews indicate it shouldn't be used for long-term holds 
  • Must be molded by hand and can sometimes be difficult to knead
  • Has a foul smell, especially when applied to a heated pipe
  • Has been known to harden so fast that users find it difficult to apply it before solidifying

J-B Weld SteelStik is a fast-acting epoxy putty, also known as a plumber’s putty or pipe dope. This putty is great for patching external breaks in appliance pipes, metal hot water pipes, and even PVC pipes. This putty can be molded, sanded, and adjusted to fit leaks in pipe joints and corners where conventional clamps are difficult to attach. 

Like most epoxy putties, the J-B Weld SteelStik isn’t designed to be a long-term fix, and reviews clearly show that the hold begins to wear down after a time. Furthermore, while it hardens quickly, it has a strict one-hour cure time and will fail if pressure and water are applied before that time has elapsed. When used correctly, the J-B Weld SteelStik is a great “emergency patch job” sealant, especially for leaky copper pipes. 

Product Specs:

  • Compatible materials: metal, PVC, ABS 
  • PSI rating: 900
  • Cure time: 1 Hour 
  • Heat resistance: 350℉ continuous temperature, 450℉ intermittent temperature

Dixon Valve PTFE Industrial Sealant Tape



Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Easy to use
  • Creates a strong seal
  • Versatile, working on most kinds of pipes

Cons

  • Gets dirty easily
  • Thin and easy to tear
  • Not suitable for high-pressure pipes

Teflon tape, also known as PTFE or plumbers tape, is a must-have for every DIYer’s toolbox. Dixon PTFE sealant tape can be wrapped around the threading of synthetic and metal pipes, creating a strong, airtight seal. Keep in mind that this is tape designed explicitly for creating seals between pipe threading; as such, it’s not suited for other kinds of leaks and tears. 

Product Specs

  • Length: three-fourths inches wide, 520 inches long
  • Material: PTFE 
  • Temperature resistance: 212 below zero to +500℉ 

Rectorseal T Plus 2 Pipe Thread Sealant



Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Non-hardening
  • Extremely high-pressure resistance of 10,000 PSI
  • Comes with an application brush
  • Usable on synthetic and metal pipes

Cons

  • Can be difficult to apply
  • Can make a mess
  • Has the consistency of a thick paste, making it not usable for all jobs

T Plus 2 Pipe Thread Sealant, when applied to pipe threads, creates a strong, watertight seal with one of the highest pressure ratings on this list. It’s also heat resistant up to 400℉ and remains semisolid; while this may not sound beneficial, it is. If pipe sealants become rigid and stiff, they’re more likely to break when applied to heat, pressure, and movement. The fact that T Plus 2 is designed to never fully dry makes it a stronger product. However, it isn’t a fit for all jobs, nor is it an all-purpose sealer. 

Product Specs:

  • Compatible material: metal, synthetics
  • PSI rating: 10,000 liquid, 3,000 gas
  • Cure time: N/A
  • Heat resistance: 300℉

Proxicast Pro-Grade Self-Fusing Silicone Rubber Sealing Tape



Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy to apply and clean up
  • Leaves little to no residue
  • High PSI rating of 1,150

Cons

  • Extremely thick and may not fit over all pipes
  • Can dry out if not kept in a sealed container
  • Pipe must be thoroughly cleaned before application, or the seal may be faulty

Proxicast Rubber Sealing Tape is an extremely durable and versatile sealing solution. You can use it for plumbing, electrical, automotive, and repair jobs, along with numerous other applications. This repair tape can adhere to itself, making applications easy and tight. This product works best for exterior cracks along central pipe sections but does not handle corners or threading leaks well due to its thickness. Furthermore, like all silicone tapes, the pipe must be extremely clean and devoid of debris for the tape’s seal to take effect. 

Product specs:

  • Width: 1.5 inches
  • Length: 180 Inches
  • Temperature resistance: 65 below zero to +500℉
  • Compatible materials: synthetics, metals

Final Notes on Choosing the Right Pipe Sealant

Leaks and bursts on pipes can be a nightmare, especially with a gushing leak. Thankfully, plenty of high-quality pipe sealant products are available to keep your pipes under control while you wait for a plumber or another long-term solution. We hope this article provides you with the information needed to manage your next pipe repair. 

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