Caulk gun extension
Recycling saw blades
Sanding out solder

Caulk Gun Extension

I am a third-year apprentice for Local 47 plumbers and steamfitters in northwest Pennsylvania. On one of my first jobs, I had to fire caulk the drains under the tubs. We were using the quart caulk guns with the big sausage tubes. But it was impossible to get the gun in there; even a putty knife didn’t work.

So I came up with a solution. I took a 1/2-inch PEX coupling, cut the tip of the caulking gun to fit it, then crimped the coupling to the tip. Next, I took an 18-inch piece of PEX tubing and crimped it to the other end. Now I had a long nozzle to get to where my hand could not. The job foreman liked it and I got an “Atta boy” for coming up with it. Not bad for a first-year apprentice!

I have used the same thing on different jobs and always get the “What is that?” look, until they see me use it. When you have to caulk in a tight space, the PEX extension will save time and money.

Paul Mulvin
William T. Spaeder Co.
Erie, Pa.

Recycling Saw Blades

After using reciprocating saw blades, keep a few old ones around for cutting into sheet rock or other walls of various material.

Measure the depth of the wall material and cut the saw blade to that depth or just a bit longer. This will prevent you from cutting further into the wall than necessary, avoiding wires, water pipe and slicing into studs. 

Mike Buchanan
Buchanan Plumbing Service
Richmond, Va.

Sanding Out Solder

When having to redo newly roughed-in copper, one option is to cut the copper and fittings out and restart with new fittings. The cut-out fittings never get used again and we all know that can get very expensive.

Another option is to unsweat the fittings and try to reuse them, but there is always solder left in the hub of the fittings, which makes them hard to work with. To solve that problem, I use a rotary power tool with a drum sanding attachment and sand the solder left in the fitting. It does a fast job, too. Now I am able to reuse the fitting as if it was new. I usually do this with fittings 1 1/2 inches and larger.

Genaro Martinez
B. Bruce Plumbing