Tool Tips

Replacing toilet handles, water closets, tub spouts

Tool Tips—April 2014

Replacing toilet handle in a square cutout

When replacing the toilet handle on 90% of the toilets out in the field, it seems like all aftermarket handles and sometimes even OEM handles don’t fit in the square cutout of the porcelain all the time. A common problem is that you have to torque the handle down, which sometimes results in stripping the nut. Or the next time someone presses the handle down hard to flush, the inner part of the shaft moves in the porcelain square, causing the chain adjustment to be thrown off and the toilet to run.

Here is my trick — save your empty Teflon case roll and cut out your own shims with a pair of snips. The roll is plastic, so it won’t rust out. Just place it between the porcelain and the new toilet handle square cutout. This will prevent the handle housing from moving and keep the flapper from running. 

Michael Marvon
Lesco Plumbing & Heating
Caldwell, N.J.


Water closet stub installed through floor

When installing an underground 3-in. PVC rough-in for a water closet stub through the floor, place a small piece of 5-in. sheet metal around the PVC pipe and evenly fill it in with sand. After the concrete floor is poured, take the sheet metal off. A 3-in. closet flange will fit directly on the pipe and you will be able to screw it down to the concrete.

Shawn Laverty
Campbell Plumbing and Heating
Littleton, Mass.


Tub spout upgrade with no male adapter

I had to upgrade a tub and shower trim on a recently installed valve. The tub spout on the standard trim is recessed in about 3 in. The normal procedure is to stub-out copper pipe and then attach, with solder, on a male adapter. However, the upgraded spout is solid brass and the female connection is flush at the wall, leaving no room for the male adapter.

To solve the problem, I cut the threads off the end of a 1/2-in. brass nipple, creating a flush bushing and soldered it on from the inside of the pipe. I then sealed the nipple to the tile with caulking, added pipe dope to the nipple and installed the fancy spout.

Don Jordan
Maguire Co.
Newton, Mass.


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