How hard to tighten Black Iron pipe?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by msgale, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. msgale

    msgale New Member

    Messages:
    90
    Location:
    Ohio
    I have read many posts on how tight to make one inch black iron pipe, and posts where people address pro and con of tape vs. dope.
    Recently installing hydronic system, I had some small leaks.
    Variety of sources of pipe: big box stores, and plumbers supply shops. Some china, some usa.
    I used pipe dope, not tape.

    Question: for average strength 150 pound man, and a 14 inch pipe wrench,
    do I tighten:

    As hard as I can using arms and shoulder and weight of my body on wrench?
    Do I use a longer wrench, as hard as I can?
    am I capable or over tightening it myself?
    Can I break anything?
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I'm not a pro and it's possible some of them will chime in here with more scientific data, but I use 24" pipe wrenches and pipe dope alone. I turn the until I can't turn anyone. Is there a risk of breaking the pipe? Can't say for sure, but I've never broken a pipe by tightening too tight. I'd say that with a 14" wrench, you need to put the muscle to it. If it moves, give it some more.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,264
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    pipe

    The answer to all your questions is "yes" although it would take some doing to damage the pipe or fittings.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,775
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington

    Like hj mentions. Some of this varies so much between people.
    If you have ever rebuilt an engine, then you have an idea of how little torque it takes for install a cylinder head.
    Those have torque wrenches and the setting for the bolt tightness.
    It just takes practice to get these things right.

    I've had bad fittings before, that's kind of out of a persons control.
    And I've had fittings and pipes that need R & R before.

    I like using the Teflon paste sealant on gas threads.
    But if you ask enough times, you will hear every variation there is.

    Tape and then paste works too.

    [​IMG]
  5. Winslow

    Winslow Plumber

    Messages:
    450
    Location:
    Hawaii
    I use 18 inch pipe wrenches. If the pipe is threaded properly you don't have to herniate yourself to get them tight enough. When the pipe is cinched up the threads shoiuld not penetrate past the threads on the fitting. There are a variety of dope compounds available. Which one is best depends on the situation. If the pipe won't be visible and you are not entering it into the home show then Grip light is the best. It can be messy if you're not carefull. Rectorseal makes some good products.
  6. Master-Threader

    Master-Threader New Member

    Messages:
    1
    First of all, if you really torque on the fittings, you can split them. I've done it before (granted I'm 300 lbs.) Use pipe thread sealant (pipe dope) ONLY! Never use Teflon tape on LP gas piping. The LP eats the teflon tape. And remember, more than snug, but don't swing for the fences. And you should be testing your work after installation. Use a five-pound articulated guage. And soap test it!!!! Go get em!!!!
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,264
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    threads

    If there are no threads showing after it is tightened, then you DID tighten it too far. It is like when my wife's two uncles put a cattle watering system into a 600' long barn. Since the stalls were all the same, they cut the pipes to the correct dimension and had the farmer's sons do the assembly while they ate lunch. When they came back the waterers were already 3" out of position. The farmer's sons WERE like linebackers and they WERE tightening the pipes until all the threads were inside the fittings. It all had to be taken apart, and because the fittings had been stretched, even though they were not cracked, they had to be replaced with new ones in order to seal properly with the right torque.
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Or the pipe threads have been cut wrong...I have run into this in the distant past...
  9. msgale

    msgale New Member

    Messages:
    90
    Location:
    Ohio
    ]First of all, if you really torque on the fittings, you can split them. I've done it before (granted I'm 300 lbs.)

    What length pipe wrench did you use when they split?
  10. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Personaly I use Channel Locks and [​IMG] for 1/2" gas pipe / water heater installs and never have problems...never...
  11. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    The reason they make different size pipe wrenches is for different size pipe. Little pipe = little wrench. Big pipe = big wrench. Teflon paste and or tape greatly lubricates the joint and makes if very possible to over tighten the fitting. there should be about 3 threads showing when the joint is right. An old timer gas guy told me years ago the joint only needs to be tight enough to not leak.
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,264
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    old timer

    The old timer was right, it "only has to be tight enough not to leak". The problem with that aphorism is that you will not know if it was until it is too late to fix it easily.
  13. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    As a DIY'er I'll agree with the pros here. I've done my share of black pipe tightening, both water and gas. I've never used the tape only the goo. I've learned to use good stuff. Of all the stuff I've tried I've yet to be let down by RectorSeal. That is all I look for when I run out, accept no substitutes.

    I have all size pipe wrenches, up to 24". In the beginning I had leaks. Then I learned I must tighten more. Then I had split fittings, and I learned not to tighten too much :(

    Here's my recipe, apply good thread sealant to threads(don't go overboard) then tighten(18" wrench works for 1/2" & 3/4" all the time) I tighten till it is very tight using one arm/hand on the wrench. I then follow up with a 1/2-3/4 turn of the pipe using both arms/hands on the wrench for strength. If the pipe moved too easy then a lil bit more doesn't hurt. After your done, testing is in order, especially if it's Gas.
  14. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    An 18" wrench is too big for 1/2 & 3/4 pipe.

    Wrench Pipe Dia.
    6″ 1/8″ -1/2″
    8″ 1/4″ -3/4″
    10″ 1/4″ - 1″
    12″ 1/2″ - 11/2″
    14″ 1/2″ - 11/2″
    18″ 1″ - 2″
    24″ 11/2″ - 21/2″
    36″ 2″ - 31/2″
    48″ 3″ - 5″
    60″ 3″ - 8″
  15. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    In my opinion it all depends on your strength. The 18" gives additional leverage can make up for less strength someone may have. That's why I started using it. I was weak in the upper body strength.

    I'm sure I can use a 12" or a 14" now that I have some muscles :)
  16. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I have never tried lifting a 60" pipe wrench...
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