Professional plumbers often go above and beyond their clients' expectations when installing and repairing plumbing systems. Most laypeople don't understand every detail that plumbers have to pay attention to when installing leak-free pipes and fittings. One important step in ensuring that a plumbing installation is free from leaks and lasts as long as possible is properly threading freshly cut pipes. If you cut your own pipe threads, here is what you need to know about thread gages.
Thread Plug Gages
If you cut threads onto the interior of a pipe, you can verify the exact pitch and spacing of the threads with a thread plug gage. These gages fit inside pipes the way bolts fit into nuts. Simply spin the gage gently into the pipe and make sure it fits snugly. If there is any wiggle room between the thread plug gage and the pipe or if the plug gage simply won't thread into the pipe, the threads are almost certainly cut incorrectly. Remove the plug gage gently to avoid damaging the threads, and visually inspect the pipe threads to ensure a perfect seal. By using both a thread plug gage and a visual inspection, you can virtually guarantee perfect threads.
Thread Ring Gages
Thread ring gages are the opposite of thread plug gages. These gages fit onto the outside of threaded pipes. If you have added threads to the outside of a pipe that is designed to fit into a plumbing fitting, those threads need to seal perfectly with threads you didn't cut yourself. Fit the thread ring gage over the pipe threads and spin it to check for the correct thread pattern. If the ring gage spins smoothly and firmly into place, you know that your pipe threads are cut perfectly. It is still important to visually inspect the threads for imperfections that could lead to leaks, but the ring thread gage will ensure that your threads are cut to the right pattern.
Standards and Materials
The National Pipe Tapered threads that plumbers use have to comply with ANSI/ASME B1.20.1. Although pipe thread cutters are designed to cut threads to that standard, these cutters can lose precision with extended use. An essential element of maintaining your plumbing materials and the quality of your installations is verifying that your pipe threads are within accepted standards. Pipe thread gages are made from strong tool steel, and because they don't have to cut through metal, they won't degrade as fast as pipe cutters. You can rely on your thread gages to help you guarantee the quality of your work and prevent leaks that could affect your reputation and bottom line.
To learn more about thread gages, contact gage manufacturers in your area.