Yo, that’s DOPE.

More plumbing!

The faucet aerator on my parents’ kitchen faucet had been threatening to break for a few years now, and, finally, while they were away (of course) it did, leaving me to fix it.  Fortunately, I actually really like plumbing.  It just seems so logical.

Pipe Dope 3
Yup, ew.

Anyway, while I was at Canadian Tire buying a new faucet aerator, I realized I had no idea where my dad kept his teflon thread tape, so I figured I’d pick up some more — it’s like a buck and a half so it’s no big.  But then I saw this little tube of pipe thread DOPE.  I’d never seen it before (my plumbing experience is pretty limited, after all).  I’m not a huge fan of teflon tape: I find it’s hard to apply at first, when it keeps unraveling on you, and after a few years it tends to flake out and then your pipes are leaking again.  So I figured what the heck?  And I bought the dope.

Pipe Dope 1

Pipe dope, while it may sound like a specific form of recreational drug, is also known as pipe-joint compound, and you use it the same as you would the teflon tape.  When I got home I looked up the differences between tape and goop and this website was very helpful in explaining.  Essentially, dope is messier but easier to apply (less finesse involved) and it never hardens, which means you don’t get that flakiness a few years down the road.

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I’m sure many of you have replaced bits of piping over the years but I figured I’d post this just so you can see the difference between dope and tape if you’ve never used dope before (Kids: don’t do drugs.  Wrong kind of dope).

Pipe Dope 4

So you remove the old faucet aerator and clean and dry off the threads on the faucet.  This is easier to do with a male end but a good stiff brush will clean out most of the gunk.

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You might want to test your attachment first, to make sure it fits. I ended up having to take out one of the washers already inside so that there was room to screw it on.

Pipe Dope 6

And when I opened the tube of dope there was this weird oily stuff in there so I squeezed it out and chucked it. The second squeeze came out okay.

Pipe Dope 7

Then you coat the male end of the threads with dope.  Sometimes this will be on your faucet, sometimes it will be on the attachment.  It all depends.  But always do it on the male end, which is the part that goes inside the other part.  Yup. Then you screw on your attachment.  Keep in mind that not all dope works on plastic attachments, like this one.  I checked the tube before I bought it to make sure.

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Also with plastic attachments, generally they say you can simply tighten them by hand and you don’t need tools but I find that with my carpal tunnel syndrome I have a super weak grip and if I tighten things by hand then I get leaks out the wazoo, so what I like to do is wrap the plastic attachment with a cloth and then use Vice Grips to gently tighten it a bit more.

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Then you just wipe away the excess dope and give it a test.  If, like you see here, you get tiny pinhole leaks, then just take off the attachment, apply more dope, and try again.

Pipe Dope 10
You can’t see the two tiny jets of water that are shooting straight up but they’re what is leaving puddles on top of the faucet itself.

Tada.  New aerator.  Easy peasy.

Pipe Dope 11


The Leaky Faucet Gets the Love

Leaky Faucet
As I’ve said before, elementary plumbing is nothing to be afraid of, and knowing your way around your bathroom fixtures can save you a lot of money and time.

When the Pie and I first moved in together, we had a massive apartment in Ottawa’s Little Italy: fifteen hundred square feet.  Three bedrooms, each with its own sink, two bathrooms, and of course the kitchen sink.  And every single faucet dripped.  Not only was this loud and annoying, but a complete waste of water.

When confronted with this conundrum, my landlord, whose grasp of English was rudimentary at best, thought hard for a minute before telling me to “just-a turrrn eet reeeel a-hard.”

Not surprisingly, this rather simplistic solution had already occurred to me.  And of course simply turning the tap “reeeeel a-hard” did nothing.

Fixing a leaky faucet is probably one of the more simple things you can do yourself, however, so I was able to fix the six sinks myself in no time.

Faucets usually leak because the washer in the faucet needs to be tightened or replaced.  In most cases, a simple tightening will do.  Each tap handle has a little cap on it, usually the thing that tells you whether the tap is HOT or COLD.  Use a putty knife or other flat object to pry these caps off.
Leaky Faucet

Underneath you will see the screw that holds the washer in place.
Leaky Faucet

If the washer needs replacing you can just unscrew it and stick a new one in, but most of the time you just need to stick the screwdriver in and tighten the screw as far as it will go.
Leaky Faucet

Replace the caps, maybe after cleaning around the hole a bit first, and there you go.  No more leaky faucet.  Five minutes of love gives you so much peace.
Leaky Faucet

And speaking of getting the love, today is our second wedding anniversary.  Love you Pie!  Seven years along and still going strong …
Photo by Mike Andreyechen

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