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What is Gasket Sealant?

By Dorothy Distefano
Updated May 23, 2024
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A gasket sealant is basically any type of adhesive spray, glue, or paste that holds the mechanical joint known as a gasket in place. Its main goals are to prevent fluid leakages and reduce the chance of mechanical breakdown as parts rub against each other. Gaskets are perhaps most common in engines for things like cars and trucks, but there are many applications for them in industry and machinery. They are usually fairly secure on their own, but engineers often like to use sealant to improve the strength and integrity of the joints. Many of the sealants available also offer benefits like waterproofing and weatherproofing, which can serve an additional purpose of preventing outside elements from getting in.

Main Uses

This sort of sealant is primarily used to make sure that engine gaskets stay closed and tight. This is most often intended to prevent the escape of a liquid or a gas. There are many applications for the sort of mechanical joints that require sealant, though many are used in liquid and vapor systems that operate under extraordinary temperature and pressure situations. Even gaskets that start out very tight will often, under these conditions, weaken over time. There are also natural limits to how well they will seal. Applying an additional substance can add an extra layer of protection that can improve mechanical performance over the long term, and can reduce the number of times repairs need to be made.

Physical Characteristics and Usage Options

It’s typically very easy to use and apply, too. Most of the time it comes in a tube and has a paste-like consistency, and consumers often have the choice between products that are optimized for foam, rubber, silicone, plastic, and metallic-based seals. Depending on the project, this sort of sealant can be used with many different types of materials. The product best suited for a specific application depends on the material to be sealed, the environmental conditions, the temperature, and the operating pressures in the system, among other things.

Setting Differences

Some gasket sealants will harden shortly after application. These are generally referred to as “hard setting.” This type of sealant is typically recommended for use with rigid and permanent assemblies that are exposed to little or no vibration. Gasket sealants are also made with different drying rates, quick setting capabilities, a combination of sealing and gluing properties, and chemical resistance.

Sealant is often a part of automotive repair, though in these cases mechanics often need to find products with settings optimized for mechanical engines. In most cars, trucks, and motorcycles, a head gasket is used to seal the engine block and cylinder head. The head gasket is a flat, semi-rigid, graphite material cut to the shape of the two mating surfaces. A sealant is often applied to both sides of the head gasket to ensure that the small surface irregularities in each mating surface are filled, and that the two surfaces seal properly when joined together.

Connection Options

There are some situations in which gasket sealant can be used without an actual gasket. Flanged connections are one of the most common examples. These sorts of connections are used in many plumbing and utility piping applications. A flange is typically a raised lip or rim around the flat end of a pipe, and two flanges are usually placed in surface contact with each other to form a joint. These connections are often made using bolts to ensure a leak-tight seal. Threaded piping connections also frequently use strong sealants to prevent leakage through the very small clearance areas between the threads. Some manufacturers make specific pipe sealers, but more industrial-grade products are often more effective and can also be easier to use.

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