Removing Water Heater Nipples

I have a suggestion for removing those old, rusty, crusty, galvanized water heater nipples. Way too often a plumber may collapse, “egg-shape” or sometimes even break those old galvanized nipples at a water heater during repairs.

I have been removing those pesky nipples for years with rarely any problems. Simply drive a 1/2-inch round cold chisel into the nipple. This will stiffen the nipple and prevent collapsing and egg-shaping of the nipple. Then take a steel pipe wrench and put strain, “torque,” on the nipple with one hand in a counter-clockwise rotation. Then with the other hand, strike the end of the pipe wrench handle with a hammer.

This will almost always break any stubborn pipe nipple loose. I have taught many a plumber this technique. It really works great. Try it sometime.

Jerry Sprague
Christianson Plumbing and Air Conditioning
Round Rock, Texas

A Birthday Present

Give yourself a birthday present. Once a year, on your birthday, remember to change your tubing/pipe cutter wheels to make your work easier and your cuts cleaner and safer. You can change the rollers, too. Most contractors wait until the blades break and then it is too late.

James V. Semerano
Johnson Controls Inc.
Roswell, Ga.

Two-Sided Tip

My Tool Tip is using a double-ended angle ratchet wrench in which one side is 1/2 inch and the other side is 9/16 inch to assemble and install toilets. I use the 1/2-inch side to bolt the tank on the bowl and the 9/16-inch side to install the toilet to the floor. This saves half the time thanks to the ratchet action, and it works on 99 percent of the toilets I've installed. This tool is available at any Sears store.

Anthony Arbore
Arbore Plumbing Inc.
Rochester, N.Y.

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. You can e-mail your idea directly to PM editor Steve Smith at smiths@bnpmedia.com, or mail it to him c/o PM, 1050 IL Route 83, Suite 200, Bensenville, IL 60106.

Our first-place winner will receive the following from Ridge Tool Co. The RIDGID® Prize Package consists of eight professional hand tools and has a $200 total value:

  • 14-inch and 18-inch HD RAPIDGRIP™ Self-Adjusting Wrenches for easy, one-hand operation.
  • One-Stop™ Wrench, a compound tool for installing compression couplings.
  • 10-inch Wide-Mouth Adjustable Wrench featuring tapered jaws for tight areas.
  • 10 1/2-inch Plumber's Tongue-and-Groove Pliers with extra-wide opening jaws.
  • No. 117 Midget Tubing Cutter for use in confined areas.
  • No. 151 Quick-Acting Tubing Cutter for smoother operation.
  • 6-in-1 Multi-Purpose Screwdriver with two Phillips heads, two flat heads and two nut drivers.