Plumber’s putty, used to create watertight seals around faucets, drains, and sink fixtures, does in fact harden. It’s an easier solution than caulk that can be difficult remove if necessary. Plumber’s putty is therefore convenient. Here, we’ll explain how to properly use it and what to do if it hardens.
Inexpensive and widely available, the putty usually comes in a little plastic tub. It’s soft and pliable allowing you to apply it by:
- Forming Putty Rope: Remove some putty from the container and roll it back and forth in the palms of your hands. The longer the gap to fill, the longer the rope should be.
- Placing It Around the Part: Lay one end of the putty rope and work in a loop until both ends meet. Start over and make a longer rope if it’s too short; if you have too much, you can always tear off the excess.
- Press It into Place: Press gently and don’t deform the putty. Apply just enough pressure so the putty holds when you turn the part over. When you place the part, it will flatten and create a seal.
- Install the Part: If you’ve used enough putty, some will squeeze out from the edges of the part. Tighten it all the way and wipe away any excess putty that appears. If clean, it can be reused later.
Can I Still Use Hardened Plumber’s Putty?
Even in a tightly sealed container, plumber’s putty can harden after several months or years. Your first instinct may be to purchase a new tub. If it’s dried out or cracks when being shaped, it might be best to buy more putty.
However, there are options when your plumber’s putty hardens. Instead of buying more, you can:
Soak It in Water
Keep the putty in its container or place it in a jar. Pour lukewarm water over it and let it soak overnight. In the morning, fill a large bowl with hot water and place the container inside. Try to fold and squeeze the putty until it softens.
Add Water and Hand Lotion
Place some putty on a clean flat surface. While wearing gloves, mix about 2 tablespoons of water into the putty and kneed it by hand. It should start to become pliable. Then squirt some hand lotion into the plumber’s putty to soften it up even more.
Cover It in Linseed Oil
Let the oil soak the putty for a day or two. Then try to knead the mixture into a desired texture, while wearing gloves. This should make the putty pliable once again. As an alternative, you can use cooking oil.
Place the hardened plumber’s putty into a microwaveable bowl and add some hair gel. Start kneading it to soften the compound. Then microwave it for 2 minutes and let it cool; then check its consistency. The process can be repeated until you get the softness you want.
Can I Prevent Plumber’s Putty from Hardening?
It’s conceivable that replacing the lid will keep the putty soft. But it can still harden after a few months if not used. Hardening can be prevented by pouring water on the plumber’s putty before securing the lid. The air-tight seal can keep the putty malleable.
The material should stay soft for significantly longer. To use the putty again, open the lid, pour out the water, and absorb the rest with a cloth or paper towel. You can then reuse the putty as needed. It never fully dries and is not an adhesive. It’s therefore not strong enough or suited for use on pipes.
How Long Does Plumber’s Putty Take to Set?
It takes a few hours for plumber’s putty to set. You can use a drain or tap immediately after installing the putty, although waiting a few hours may yield the best results. The putty will expand so might create a tighter seal.
Contact One Source Home Service for Plumbing Help
We provide all types of plumbing repairs and installation in Colorado Springs. From drain cleaning to kitchen and bathroom remodeling, to 24/7 emergency plumbing services, our licensed technicians are prepared for anything. To request service, reach out to us online or call 719-532-9000.