Drains leak with plumber's putty

I consider myself a pretty handy guy, but I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. Over the past couple years, I've replaced 3 sink strainers in stainless steel sinks, a drain in a bathroom sink, and am now trying to replace the drain in my bathtub.
I have the recurring problem of leaks - due to the plumber's putty around the flange on the top side of the drains. I've tried using a lot of putty, i've tried a little putty. I've tried as tight as I can turn, and I've tried just snug. They drip about a dozen times before I get them right. I use all the correct washers on the underside.
What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? I've heard of using silicon instead of putty. Should I go this route? I need to be sure I get the bathroom leak fixed because a new drywall ceiling is going to cover it when finished.
Greg
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Greg wrote:

Did you give some time for the putty to cure? Tony
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Greg wrote:

In addition to Tony's point, are all the surfaces totally clean and in good condition without contamination?
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Joseph Meehan

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I can't recall ever having a leak when using plumber's putty, clean surfaces and quality parts.
Other than the 2 questions above (clean and quality) I will pose the following for your consideration:
How old is the putty you are using? Is it fresh and tacky out of the tub or dry and stiff? You won't normally get a quality product at the big box stores and the stuff doesn't keep long term. Even with the fresh stuff it is good to work it in your hand until it is warm an pliable.
Are you allowing the drain to twist in the opening while tightening down the nut? This should be avoided. The top of the drain should not turn as it is tightened down.
The silicone may work. I have never tried it.
Colbyt
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Greg wrote:

<SNIP>
If the "leak" is coming from the bottom of the sink where the drain tailpiece comes out, the problem is *not* the putty on the flange. If the putty does not seal there, the only result will be that water in the bowl will slowly drain out (no visible "leak").
What is happening is that water draining from the sink escapes either where the rubber Mack washer seals the tailpiece to the sink bottom or the water is finding a path out by spiraling around the threads.
The fix is to use sealant on both sides of the rubber Mack washer AND use sealant on the threads where they pass thru the washer. I like silicone (RTV) sealant for this purpose. Works well on the drain flange up top too and avoids the risk of putty staining a "cultured" marble top.
Jim
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Thanks for the quick replies.
Yes the surfaces are clean.
I have not let the putty cure. My plumbing book doesn't mention it, nor do the instructions on the putty. How long does this take? It is non-hardening, so what takes place during the "curing"?
It is brand new putty. Not dry at all.
It seems like most, if not all, the putty squeezes out when tightened. The twisting is unavoidable in this application since the tub drain screws in to the piece underneath the tub.
Should be simple, I know. I must be dumb.
Greg

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i never let the putty cure,never heard of that. but the drain twisting on th putty is a no no. get someome to hold it when you tighten so it dont turn on you. lucas
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

If I understand what you are saying, I would suggest that it is the twisting that is causing the problem.
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Joseph Meehan

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Yes, the only way to insert the drain from the top side is to screw it in.
Greg
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* UPDATE *
After 8 tries with putty, I gave in and called a plumber.
It was fixed in 5 minutes. They don't even carry plumber's putty on their truck. They used a tube of silicon sealant and it was ready to go. No leaks.
Greg
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