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Thread: Real Time Help: Pipe Compound with Compression Fittings

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member turbocruiser's Avatar
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    Default Real Time Help: Pipe Compound with Compression Fittings

    Fine folks, this is the first post for me here and I'm sincerely sorry it is so stupid and also that it is requesting real time help. I am replacing all my compression fittings in my bathrooms and in my kitchen after a really long remodel and I am honestly so seriously confused about whether I should have put the pipe compound I put on the threads of my compression fittings. When I was initially reading on the proper procedure I saw several DIY sites suggesting to use Pipe Compound but not Teflon Tape. Now that I am almost all done installing these things, I'm seeing several sites suggesting NOT to use Pipe Compound NOR Teflon Tape. I'm so seriously confused and concerned now!

    If it matters much I'm using BrassCraft 1/4 turn Straight and also Angle compression fitting valves. On their own instructions it suggests using either a drop of oil or "thread sealant" to help the nuts turn and tighten. That was also why I used the Pipe Compound. It also specifically says not to use Putty. So I thought I did the right thing but these interwebs can really twist things the more you read through random areas! I thought that I'd come here to the experts and ask. Again sorry for such a stupid first post. Any advice is much more than greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    You're ok. In theory, NOTHING is needed. Tape is a bad idea, because it can interfere with the necessary metal to metal seal of the ferrule, and on the threads could interfere with proper tightening.

    A little lubrication on both the ferrule and threads will ease assembly but more importantly, will make future disassembly much easier. Light oil is ok. I often have used plumbers faucet grease, or white teflon paste, which is non-setting. Do not use conventional grey or black dope, which will set up.

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    Plumber jay_wat's Avatar
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    i use pipe dope on the threads only myself,,and dont feel bad,,no such thing as a stupid question!

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    DIY Junior Member turbocruiser's Avatar
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    Wow jimbo, thanks for the fast response! What I was using specifically was Oatey Great White Pipe Joint Compound With PTFE. I carefully smeared a small amount across all the threads (male and female) prior to tightening the fitting. I didn't put anything at all on the ferrule but I'm sure some smeared on its two inside faces as the fitting tightened. I was really careful to clean the copper tubing first, align all the parts together and tighten them firmly. Do you think that I'm okay with the specific method and specific materials that I used here? Would it be better to disassemble and clean the compound out or would it be better to leave it alone at this time? Thanks again I appreciate so super much getting your guidance.

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    DIY Junior Member turbocruiser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jay_wat View Post
    i use pipe dope on the threads only myself,,and dont feel bad,,no such thing as a stupid question!
    Thanks jay, that was wonderfully kind but I tend to overthink things too much (especially as I'm learning) so I'm sure I'll have other questions I call stupid that you will actually agree, were, well, stupid! Thanks again though.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Great White is what I use. No problem. If it is not leaking...you're done!

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    DIY Junior Member turbocruiser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    Great White is what I use. No problem. If it is not leaking...you're done!
    Awesome thanks again. For future reference should I continue this method or should I start doing them dry without compound? Thanks.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You don't need the compound, but a little lubrication on the threads can make tightening a little smoother. Sometimes the threads aren't the best, and it binds a little. Some lubricant there lets you 'feel' it get tight.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbocruiser View Post
    Awesome thanks again. For future reference should I continue this method or should I start doing them dry without compound? Thanks.
    I've been using teflon past or pipe compound on them since the 60s, hooking them up dry can cause a leak.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I have NEVER used anything on them since the 50's, and I do not have leaks.

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    DIY Junior Member turbocruiser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shacko View Post
    I've been using teflon past or pipe compound on them since the 60s, hooking them up dry can cause a leak.

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    I have NEVER used anything on them since the 50's, and I do not have leaks.

    Good Grief, see what I was saying! We have here Two Master plumbers each with 100,000 times more experience and expertise than I do and I'm again gettin two different techniques. This really compounds my confusion, get it, compounds ... arrgh yes, I'm definitely delirious at this point.

    Anyway I got all the fittings installed finally, I slowly turned on the water, nothing was leaking a lot but two straight valves had a super slow "sweating" out of the bottom of the compression nut. I was really careful when installing per instructions to turn them finger tight and then 1/2 turn more ( I even marked with marker) so I snugged em up a little more and, so far, so good.

    I think that I will watch them for several days straight before I put things in the cabinets again and I also think that I'll turn the water off prior to leaving the house, just in case. I really appreciate everyone's advice. I think I learned a lot and some definites seem to be:

    1. Don't use any additional gasket type material on compression fittings.
    2. Don't use any plumber's putty, or anything that actually "sets up hard".
    3. You can use a little lubricating oil or spread some non-setting pipe compound that's teflon enriched but it won't really seal the fitting as the fitting is sealed from the ferrule squeezing up to the two surfaces.
    4. Getting things finger tight and then turning the compression nut 1/2 turn gets torque close but sometimes you still have to snug up some on the compression nut ( its hard for a nervous novice to know how much "nut" to put on the nut ... I'm thinking wrist tight only not arm tight? ... it would help to know from the experts how hard are you tightening these things?) .

    In terms of the fundamentals though is this accurate? Thanks.

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    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbocruiser View Post

    I think that I will watch them for several days straight before I put things in the cabinets again and I also think that I'll turn the water off prior to leaving the house, just in case. I really appreciate everyone's advice. I think I learned a lot and some definites seem to be:

    1. Don't use any additional gasket type material on compression fittings.
    2. Don't use any plumber's putty, or anything that actually "sets up hard".
    3. You can use a little lubricating oil or spread some non-setting pipe compound that's teflon enriched but it won't really seal the fitting as the fitting is sealed from the ferrule squeezing up to the two surfaces.
    4. Getting things finger tight and then turning the compression nut 1/2 turn gets torque close but sometimes you still have to snug up some on the compression nut ( its hard for a nervous novice to know how much "nut" to put on the nut ... I'm thinking wrist tight only not arm tight? ... it would help to know from the experts how hard are you tightening these things?) .

    In terms of the fundamentals though is this accurate? Thanks.

    I'd say this is a great summary. There is a certain "feel" to a properly tightened compression fitting, which is approximated by 1/2 turn after finger tight, but I would think the pros (I'm not one) have "the touch" which allows them to properly tighten these fittings leak-free most of the time.

    Terry published the instructions which come with a particular brand of compression fitting, which advise the use of a drop of light oil on the threads. I started doing this after I read it here, and it does seem to help get the fitting tightened properly. Like Jim D says above, it helps keep the threads from binding up and lets you tighten the fitting adequately.

  13. #13
    VP at Dahl Brothers Canada Limited Dahlman's Avatar
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    I have always been advised not to use anything on compression connections and our research has supported that. I am not a licensed plumber but have been involved in manufacturing plumbing & heating valves and specialties for many years, including comprehensive stress testing and failure analysis. It is intended to be a dry mechanical joint and, if the product is not well made, there are potential problems that can occur when using additional sealing products or lubricants.

    1) Using Teflon tape on a parallel thread creates an outward (hoop) stress that puts a strain on the nut - think of it as being flared out in a bell shape. Imperceptible to the naked eye, but in some cases enough to eventually cause the compression nut to split and result in a leak.

    2) Using pipe dope or oil can lead to over tightening of the joint in the hands of an inexperienced installer because the reduced friction from the lubrication can mislead you into tightening the nut well beyond the point where the joint is already complete. This may set up stresses that result in a failure (splitting/cracking) of the female socket end (into which you insert the pipe) of the fitting or valve. This can especially be the case with products that are made from cheap brass or have less than desirable wall thickness.

    It is important for us non-plumbers to remember that many of the plumbers on these forums are very experienced and therefore have a much better feel for what works under the various circumstances they encounter. Therefore, I tend to stick to the "rule book" and accept that plumbers may do things differently because they have the skill level to do so.

    Cheers,
    Dahlman

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Dahlman makes good points about the expertise of the plumbers involved.
    Like hj mentions, you can install the stops right out of the wrappers. We do.
    Many novices either don't tighten enough, or tighten too much squeezing the pipe down to nothing. You can tell when it's "snugged".

    Novices will also crank down so hard on a toilet tank that they split it too; again, a plumber will know when it's been "snugged" down.

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    DIY Senior Member Hairyhosebib's Avatar
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    I like to use DOW CORNING 111 silicone grease on such connections. It does not take much either. It makes the nuts draw down easier and they won't squeal because they are dry. Also the grease won't set like some pipe dopes will and make them hard to take apart in the future I also use this grease on slip washers on drain connections too, it keeps the rubber from drying out, be sure to put a little grease on the slip nut threads too. Be careful about installing anything plumbing, you may be the person who has to get it apart some day. Many times getting the old stuff out without tearing up more than needed is 3/4 of the battle of doing a repair in the first place.
    I would highly recommend you seek out some high quality quarter turn angle stops from a plumbing supply house unless you take the time to exercise them occasionally. Usually once installed they never get used and most of the time they won't work and the handle will break off when forced closed and can leak.
    Last edited by Hairyhosebib; 08-26-2010 at 12:50 PM.

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