Sometimes plumbing repairs may seem minor and homeowners opt for DIY techniques to help save money in the short-term.
While plumber’s putty can come in handy in a pinch, it presents unexpected dangers that homeowners should know. Let’s take a look at the unexpected dangers of plumber’s putty and why you should always call a licensed plumber whenever plumbing issues arise.
What is Plumber’s Putty?
Plumber’s putty is a moldable clay that is used to create watertight seals around faucets, drains, and other plumbing fixtures. It is soft and pliable when applied, allowing it to fill gaps and crevices. Once exposed to air, the putty will dry out and harden like clay.
Plumber’s putty provides a quick, temporary way to seal leaks and prevent water damage. It offers a fast fix until more permanent repairs can be made.
Many homeowners keep a tub of plumber’s putty in their toolbox for minor leak repairs, not knowing some of the dangers involved with using this DIY tool.
Using Too Much Putty Can Be Risky
One of the biggest dangers with plumber’s putty is that homeowners often use too much. Just a small amount is needed to seal most leaks. But using large globs of putty can lead to bigger problems down the road.
Too much putty surrounding a drain or plumbing fixture makes it difficult to get a tight seal.
Using excessive putty also makes it nearly impossible to properly tighten or remove plumbing fixtures later on. Over-applied putty gets lodged in place and needs to be chiseled or scraped away before any future repairs can be made. This adds time and frustration to future plumbing projects.
If you discover a pipe leak, your best bet for a permanent fix that doesn’t lead to complications in the long-term is calling a plumber for help.
Chemical Reactions with Certain Materials
Plumber’s putty is designed specifically for sealing plumbing fixtures. When it comes into contact with certain materials, dangerous chemical reactions can occur. For example, putty should never be used on marble countertops or sinks.
The linseed oil in the putty can stain and eat away at the marble sealant. This damage is sometimes irreparable, often requiring full marble replacement. A technique called “poulticing” is an option for reversing a putty stain on your marble. But really, it isn’t worth all of the hard work and risk of damaging your surfaces.
The putty can also react with polished metal surfaces, causing corrosion and pitting over time. Always check material compatibility before using plumber’s putty.
Health Hazards of Improper Use
Improperly using plumber’s putty can also pose potential health hazards. The oils and other chemicals in the putty are not meant for prolonged exposure. However, putty often gets stuck on hands during repairs.
If not promptly cleaned off, the putty chemicals can irritate skin and cause dermatitis.
Plumbers putty in general isn’t toxic, but some brands may contain chemical traces that lead to nausea and vomiting if ingested.
Hiding Serious Problems
While plumber’s putty can temporarily patch a leak, it is not a permanent solution. Relying solely on putty to fix major leaks or issues can lead to much bigger plumbing disasters down the road.
The putty will dry out and crumble over time, reopening any leaks and leaving your plumbing problems back at square one, or worse.
Small putty pieces can also break free and clog pipes, causing clogged drains, more severe leaks, and water damage. While convenient in a pinch, plumber’s putty should never be used to disguise major plumbing problems that require professional repair.
Repair Leaks Without Risks
In many cases, the risks and dangers of using plumber’s putty outweigh the small benefits. Minor leaks or issues are often a symptom of larger problems that require experienced professionals. As with any plumbing repair, trying to cut corners with quick fix patches can quickly backfire.
The licensed plumbers at Plumbing Dynamics in Carrollton, TX have specialized tools, sealing agents, and the know-how to correctly diagnose and repair any plumbing issue.
We ensure all repairs are done properly and built to last. So, the next time your pipes spring a leak, don’t reach for the makeshift putty repair. Contact us for expert relief.