Send us your Tool Tips for the chance to win $200 of RIDGID tools.

Teaching Tools

I'm a plumber and also an instructor at Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 102. My tip is that when I take out a used water heater, I then use it as a teaching tool. We cut a 2-foot by 2-foot hole in one side so that students can see the fill tube and other parts. I also let them run copper lines to them as if they were really hooking them up. You don't have to be an “instructor” to take advantage of this tip. Anybody who has a business that wants to train young techs can benefit.
Sam Matthews
Maryville, Tenn.

Damn Good Advice

Let's say you are trying to make a solder or solvent weld connection and there is water inside and limited space for damming tools or no mobility, such as a riser coming out of the ground. You could always cork it with bread and run around for days cleaning a sandwich out of fixtures. Or you can take a piece of tubing and try blowing it out until your eyes pop out of your head.

Try this instead. Cut a piece of 1/4-inch plastic tubing to your desired length, shove it in the end of your test ball pump and lock it. Fish it into the pipe and pump the water out.
Jason M. Shirey
Al Coronado Plumbing
Tucson, Ariz.

Spare Change?

When any foreign material enters the supply for a kitchen or lavatory faucet, therefore blocking the flow of water, the supply can be cleaned by simply shutting down the offending side and disconnecting the water supply. Remove the aerator and plug by inserting a 5-cent piece below the aerator washer. Then re-install the aerator. This action will plug the spout. After completing that, turn the remaining water supply back on, thus flushing out the foreign material. (Note: Be sure to have a container under the disconnected water supply side. And if the valve has a hand spray diverter, the diverter must be removed, and then re-inserted after the flushing is complete.
Henry G. Pacific
Henry Pacific Plumbing & Heating
Berlin, Mass.

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, 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.