An Ode to Scotch 2228

Radiator air valve

There are a lot of bad jokes about fixing things with duct tape. None of them are funny because–let’s be honest–duct tape sucks. There are lot of fine tape products out there, and 3M makes most of them (disclosure: I’m a huge fan of pretty much every 3M product), but there is one standout that nobody has heard of and every homeowner should own. That would be Scotch 2228, an EPR-based self-fusing mastic rubber tape intended for the electrical industry. It is thick, a little bit sticky, and stretches like taffy. It has the incredible property of fusing with itself to form a solid rubber blob. It is meant to be wrapped around outdoor electrical splices to protect them from moisture, but I have discovered a much more awesome off-label use.

Scotch 2228 BoxThat would be for the temporary repair of plumbing leaks. Like all good New Englanders, we heat our house with cast-iron hot water radiators, which are generally awesome. But they have an Achilles heel, the lowly air bleed valve, which has one job in life: to let trapped air out and keep the water in. Until one day, when it just can’t take it anymore. Once the air valve starts dripping stinky radiator water on the floor, it’s hopeless. You can try to tighten it way harder than it’s designed for and hope that helps (that’s what plumbers like to do, judging by the wrench marks). Or you can replace them. But what do you do in the meantime?

Enter Scotch 2228. Wrap a piece of this stuff very tightly around the leaking valve. Cinch down on it with a couple of zip ties. Blammo! The leak is stopped within minutes. When you come back to replace the valve for real, you can’t peel the tape off because it has fused into a solid object. You have to saw it off with a knife. That’s how great this product is.

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