Unique Uses for Pennies
Toothpaste for O-Rings
Testing your Installation


Everyone hates pennies. That is, everyone but me. I have found a great use for the much-maligned penny. When I set a toilet on a tile floor, and the toilet doesn’t sit solid after dry fit (which it never does), I use pennies as shims. I have been doing this for more than 15 years, and it works great.

Simply dry fit, find out where it is rocking, and slip pennies halfway under the toilet base in the appropriate places until the rocking is gone. Then put the wax ring in place, set toilet, and push pennies as far under the toilet as you can. Solid as a rock, looks much better than “wedges,” will never rust or rot, can still grout or caulk toilet base if you want, and the price is right.

P.S. It costs our federal government more than a penny to make a penny. Go figure. That is all the more reason I find the penny to be the perfect shim for under a toilet. No offense, Abe!
Chris Stahl
Benjamin Plumbing
Madison, Wis.

Two Tips

No 1: For those shower valve cartridges and faucets where the o-rings just don’t want to stay in place till you get it in the valve, try a little toothpaste. I keep a small tube in my faucet kit. It’s sticky, and will hold the o-rings in place while being assembled. It also will wash away once the water is turned back on.

No. 2: If you’re in a state where most of the water heaters are in the garage and on a pedestal, you know how your back feels after lifting them up and down. I use a motorcycle/ATV jack that I retrofitted with a 2- x 2-inch piece of 3/4-inch plywood. The jack is wide and stable, and has a foot pedal for lifting, which leaves both hands free to stabilize the heaters. Works great for getting the old ones down, especially the 75-gallon ones, and getting the new ones up.
Rocco Volpe
Oasis Plumbing
Temecula, Calif.

Flushing Water Lines

You can save time and avoid damaged faucets by flushing water lines before the final start-up and testing of your installation. Simply make an adapter that fits into the compression outlet of the supply stop. Attach this adapter to a washing machine hose.

After all the stops are installed and the water is turned on - prior to connecting the faucets to the stops - attach the flushing tool to the stop and insert the washing machine hose end into the waste pipe. Open the stop and let the water run for several minutes to completely flush debris from the water line. Remove your flushing tool and complete the faucet installation.

It’s clean, quick and the cost is very low.

Mark Giese
Masterson Plumbing LLC
Portage, Wis.

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.