A temporary solution for faulty valves

If I’m on an emergency service call for no heat after hours, I often find old hydronic boilers that haven’t been serviced in years, and I have trouble purging the zone(s) or draining a zone due to non-functioning isolation valves/drains. I keep a self-piercing copper saddle valve handy to serve as a quick temporary bleeder valve or drain. It gets the heat back on, then I can return for another appointment to correct the issues during regular service hours.

Sean Sullivan

Sullivan Plumbing and Heating

Parlin, N.J..


Unclogging drains without a mess

When I use General Pipe Cleaners’ water ram, I use rubber-type reusable automobile expansion plugs to plug the overflow holes on lavatory sinks. The three plug sizes I use fit 95% of the lavatories that are clogged. The plugs are available at most auto stores.

Kenneth Mucciarelli

Tri County Plumbing

Newfield, N.J.


Removing broken plumbing fittings

When removing bolts from a leaking domestic coil plate on a boiler, the bolt heads tend to break. Soak them in penetrating oil the night before; if the heads break off the bolts, you can patiently work the bolts back and forth with vise grips and heat until they loosen up. They usually come out.

Shower arms that break off in the wall usually break off at the drop ear elbow and have a small piece of the thread stuck out so that you can grab with needle nose pliers and then turn the pliers; the threads will unravel in a strand. You can also send a tap into the drop ear elbow fittings, which will cut/push the broken shower arm out.

Joseph Simpson

George Green Plumbing

Woodbury, Conn.


Send Us Your Tool Tips

If you have an idea that has saved you time and money, Plumbing & Mechanical would like to share your tip with our readers. The first-place winner each month will receive a Kinetic Water Ram from General Pipe Cleaners with a retail value of $325. Read here for more details.