Here's a Tool Tip I use on 1 1/2-inch galvanized nipples. I mainly use this to clean the threads when replacing the waste and overflow on a tub because of the tight confines usually associated with slab tubs.

I take a 1 1/2-inch brass nut and cut through the threads at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock with a small saw. Don't cut all the way through the nut, just the threads. I spray some WD-40 and work the threads with the nut until clean. Basically, I make a die without the weight, size or awkwardness of a die. Don't get me wrong: I'm not making new threads. I'm cleaning the junk out of the old threads for a clean install.

Dana Drew
Beacon Plumbing
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

P.S. Here are a few other things I do:

  • I cut off the handles of used copper-cleaning brushes and stick them in my power drill to clean paint off pipes.
  • I use my old motor oil for cutting oil.
  • I keep the used rags from applying tire protect ant to wipe down extension cords and certain tools to make them clean and shine.

Water Sucks, Pt. I

Water sucks, so suck out the water. I keep an adapter for my shop-vac, which reduces the hose size down to the water line size that I am working on. By slipping a coupling into the cut end of the pipe, and then slipping my adaptor into the other side of the coupling, I can quickly draw the water out of the pipe that I need to solder. Be sure to remove the filter from the shop-vac prior to use.

I keep a small shop-vac in the truck for just this purpose. It saves countless hours over the course of a year on service calls.

Robert Clatworthy
Clatworthy Plumbing and Remodeling
Butler, Pa.

Water Sucks, Pt. II

My Tool Tip is for those slow-draining water heaters. I know that sometimes when we do water heater changeouts, you have to have two people to drag these heavy things around. That also means you have two people on the clock for 30 minutes or longer while they wait for the water heater to drain.

I have learned that if you disconnect the water supplies from the heater, screw a 3/4 test block to the nipples in the top, then hook an air compressor to the test block, your 30 minutes of down time is now two minutes or less.

Jason Owens
Rick's Plumbing Service
Cleveland, Tenn.

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 Plumbers 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.