Send us your tool tips for a chance to win a RIDGID Prize Package worth $200.

First Place

Breaking A Seal
When dealing with some radiators and convectors, the steam can make a seal between the black steel nipple and the brass valve that's impossible to separate. To remove a shut-off valve broken completely or just passing a bit while in the off position, I found a better way than bringing in the old 1 1/2-inch black steel persuader pipe.

I take an 8- or 10-inch pipe wrench (larger wrenches never fit in these tight spots) and install it to the hex of the valve, in the loosening position, of course. Then I take a 14- or 18-inch pipe wrench and remove the adjustable ring and top moving jaw, and take the rest of the wrench and insert the handle to the wrench secured to the valve.

Using some force should remove that old valve. Some older valves may require a good position with my feet against the radiator to get more torque to break the seal. I have not had one valve fail to separate from those old nipples yet.

Tony Cacciotti
Jemco Plumbing & Heating Inc.
Howell, N.J.

Organized Job
As a service tech, I've designated a “water closet bucket” to save me time and money. My bucket includes: closet bolts; china bolt covers; wobble wedges (old floors are never level); disposable latex gloves; 7/16-inch nut driver; wax rings; cans of disinfectant and degreaser; knee pads; bolt cutters (the fastest way to cut brass closet bolts); putty knife; paper towels and rags; hose bib box to dispose of the old wax ring (because it's a mess to get old wax rings into a wax ring box); and, finally, caulk and a sponge.

When I do a toilet job, all I need to do is grab my bucket and I'm ready to go.

Brad Walter
Walter Plumbing Inc.
LaGrande, Ore.

Drum Traps
To clear tub drains with drum traps, check if the tub drain is on the same wall as the toilet vent. If it's on the opposite wall, usually the tub vent has a separate penetration through the roof. The clog is most likely beyond the trap. Snake the drain from the roof vent. Or run a lavatory drain and, if water backs up in the tub, you can clear the tub drain by snaking the lavatory drain.

Derron Havenor
Allied Plumbing
Albuquerque, N.M.

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.

Ridge Tool Company is the sponsor of Tool Tips and does not neccessarily endorse the readers' submissions.