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How To Remove Plumbers Putty


Have you got plumbers putty around your tap and want to get rid of it? Our guide explains the best and easiest way to remove dried plumbers putty from your fittings and fixtures.

Want to remove the plumber’s putty but not sure how? A plumber’s putty is a beneficial substance for a DIYer or a plumber. That’s why they carry some of it at all times.

It is a versatile material that plumbers use to fix drain assemblies to sinks or seal plumbing fixtures to make them watertight. Although it takes some time to dry up, the plumber’s putty provides a strong and waterproof seal once it dries up.

Remove Plumbers Putty

Seeing dried plumber’s putty about your indoor and outdoor plumbing fixtures is normal. But, if you wish to get some plumbing work done, you must know how to remove it.

Fortunately, it is relatively simple to remove dried putty. So, if you wish to know how you can do that, then consider yourself lucky because that’s what we have discussed in this guide.

Let’s get started!

What Is A Plumber’s Putty?

The purpose of the plumber’s putty is to ensure that no water can seep through the spaces underneath a flange by filling in the areas with a malleable, clay-like compound. You can use this product to set faucets, sink basket strainers, shower drains, and pop-up drains.

As we’ve said before, a plumber’s putty is a flexible material used by most plumbers and DIYers. You will find it exceptionally soft and mushy when you buy it, much like dough. This texture makes it highly malleable, so you can use it conveniently to seal plumbing joints and fixtures.

Once the putty dries, it becomes pretty hard, which helps it to hold the plumbing joint together. Moreover, a dried plumber’s putty is relatively water-resistant, making it perfect for fixing taps, faucets and other water fixtures. And because of these properties, it stays in place for a long time after application.

Typically, a plumber’s putty is available in different blends, with each blend having a different composition. But, the primary constituents are more or less the same in all the blends. The basic blends of plumber’s putty comprise a mixture of white clay, linseed oil and a trace amount of fish oil. Other blends may use additional components such as vegetable oils, limestone or talc.

The waterproof nature of the plumber’s putty can be attributed to the oil. Furthermore, the clay interacts with the oil to give it a whitish, mushy appearance. However, you should note that it is not an adhesive and should not be used. In that case, we suggest you use caulk adhesive, epoxy resin or silicone sealant since they have adhesive properties.

Where Do You Use Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is highly durable and waterproof, making it perfect for almost any plumbing task. It can be used on the rim of a sink so that it fixes firmly, and the edges around it form a watertight seal.

Plumbers Putty Sink Rim

Additionally, You can use it around the bathtub, sink drain, faucet base and other water fixtures. On that note, You can also use it for filing leaky or damaged pipes. To do that, apply it over the leak or crack, allow it to dry, and effectively seal the leakage.

However, you are advised against using plumber putty for all fixtures. To be precise, it is unsuitable for use on marble and granite sinks. The linseed oil residue left by a plumber’s putty can stain porous surfaces mentioned above. So, you can use epoxy or silicone sealants to avoid staining such sinks, which are decent alternatives to plumber’s putty.

In any case, you can safely use it on stainless steel or plastic sinks. The linseed oil does not leave behind any unsightly stains on such surfaces. You can also use it on porcelain or cast iron surfaces. That is why you can safely use it on bathtubs, taps and pipes as long as they are made of these materials.

How Do You Apply A Plumber’s Putty?

The soft and pliable texture of a plumber’s putty makes applying highly convenient. Take a chunk of the putty in your hands, and roll it until it becomes elongated in shape, similar to a thread. Then carefully apply it around the edges of the fixture.

Applying Plumbers Putty

It is, therefore, essential to avoid applying small fragments of putty in this regard as it may cause gaps to appear after the putty is applied. It is ideal to use enough putty to do the job in a single application to achieve the best results.

But we understand that might not always be possible, so you must ensure that adjacent applications overlap sufficiently to prevent gaps. However, the overlapping sections should not be too thick, which might cause problems during the fitting. If you think they are too thick, you can try flattening them using a putty knife.

Following that, press the two surfaces that you wish to seal together. For fixtures with threaded fittings, such as a pipe joint and faucet, you need to twist them in place gently.

You may notice that some putty will overflow around the edges. That is entirely normal, so you don’t need to be concerned. Remove the overflowing excess putty with a knife or a cloth, and remove any residual stain with paint thinner or mineral spirit.

How To Remove Plumber’s Putty?

Now you know what plumbers putty is, its usage and its application. So, it is time to address the primary question raised in this guide — the removal. In that context, a plumber’s putty takes quite some time to dry, and once it does, it hardens into a material that is relatively resistant to damage.

At first glance, you might think removing it requires serious elbow grease. Luckily, if you use the right tools and techniques, removing it becomes reasonably easy. And in this section, we have discussed some of the tools and techniques you can use to remove a plumber’s putty.

1. With Bare Hands

This is the simplest method for removing dried plumber’s putty since you do not need additional equipment or tools. Dried putty is somewhat brittle under pressure, more so if it is old.

Thus, if you apply pressure on the joint with your hands or fingers, it will break off eventually. Afterwards, you can easily scrape off the remaining putty from the spot using your fingers.

Although, such a technique is not foolproof and may fail to crack the putty if it is thick enough. However, it is primarily effective for old putty, so that the success rate will be comparatively lower for freshly hardened putty.

2. Using A Knife Or Utility Blade

As an alternative to a putty knife or utility blade, you can also remove dried putty with a sturdy putty knife. The hardened putty can be scraped directly off the area by applying some pressure with the knife.

It would be helpful to be careful when using a knife or a utility blade. Otherwise, you may end up cutting yourself or injuring yourself and damaging your body.

3. Using Soapy Water

You can also remove the plumber’s putty with a soapy water solution. Dip a rough cloth in this soap water and rub it against the area vigorously. On that note, it is more effective at removing the putty residue than the actual putty itself. So, you might need to scrape the putty with a knife first.

4. Using Mineral Spirits And Paint Thinners

Mineral spirits and paint thinners are made of chemicals that can dissolve the bonds of a plumber’s putty, making them suitable for this purpose. Pour mineral spirit on a cloth and wipe vigorously against the dried putty.

Alternatively, you could apply paint thinner to the putty and let it soak for a few minutes. Once it becomes soft enough, you can wipe it off with a cloth. That being said, these chemicals are toxic and should therefore be used carefully to avoid any accidents.

5. Using A Heat Gun

A heat gun is a special device that can produce tremendous amounts of heat, usually above 537 degrees. As a result, it can effectively melt the putty, after which you can remove it by wiping it with a cloth or washing it with water.

As for the cost of getting a heat gun, it isn’t straightforward to find one, so it may not be worth your time to invest in one. Aside from that, you must wear proper equipment to stay safe, such as heat protective gloves.

Removing Plumbers Putty

That’s all we have to say about removing dried-up plumber’s putty. As you can see, it is not a highly complex process, and you can do that in more than one way.

We have also discussed where and how you should use plumber’s putty in this guide. So, the next time you want to apply some fresh putty for plumbing work or replace the old putty, you can refer to this guide. And if you need any assistance, make sure to check out our plumbing services or reach out to us. We can remove dried plumber’s putty from your sink drains, garbage disposal or drain flange. We can also fix water leaks or gaps, ensuring a watertight bond.

Now, it is time for us to wrap it up over here. We will be back with more such guides in the future.

Until then, goodbye!

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