String Lights for Working in Dark Crawl Spaces
Removing Stubborn Screw Pipes
No More Breaking Large Metal Fittings

New Light, Old Situation

Working in dark crawl spaces would be easy if we all had night vision. I don't have that, but what I do have is a 10-ft. rope light, the beefy indoor/outdoor type. These string lights are very useful - they don't burn the forehead, they don't blind the eyes, they are very compliant, there is no shadow, you don't need an assistant to hold them, and, so far, I haven't broken one. What you do is dangle them along your work, and it gives you light, not to mention a festive look. I use them with my safety GFI extension cord.

I maintain steam systems that have old pipes and old condensate receivers. These rope lights are also ideal for shoving down an open pipe or through a hand hole - you get an easy visual inspection that has much more depth and focus than with a powerful work light.
Christian Egli
C.G. Egli Inc.
Dayton, Ohio

Reverse Psychology

An old-timer once taught me a long time ago the trick to removing those stubborn screw pipes and fittings. Before you break out the heat or the persuader, just try tightening the pipe or fitting a touch (always hold back). Once you do that, reverse your wrenches and they come right apart. Sounds funny, but it works every time.
James D. Berg Sr.
Great Lakes Plumbing and Heating
Wood Dale, Ill.

Easy Removal

It took many times breaking larger metal fittings in the wall before I came up with this solution. Cut your nipples' length so you are able to get your sawzall in there. With a metal blade, cut out a 1/2-inch portion of the pipe at the top of the fitting, being careful not to cut into the threads. Once you have cut through, take a slotted screwdriver and remove the cut portion. Place your channel locks or pipe wrench on the nipple, and it is easily removed.
Tim Gregory
Plumbingworks Inc.
Bellflower, Calif.

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.
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