Plumber’s putty and old faucets

Here’s a cool trick for figuring out the brand on old faucets and valves. The stems have splines which can number from 12 to 22. Counting the splines helps determine which brand they may be. However, it is difficult to count the stem’s spline, especially with guys like me who have poor eyesight.

Simply wrap the end of the spline with plumber’s putty and squeeze. Then slowly invert the putty with your fingers. It will splay open, which will magnify the splines so that they are simple to count.

Rob Murphy

My Plumber

Rogue River, Ore.


Air-conditioning condensate cleaning No. 1

I have had much success with the following method to clear and clean plugged air-conditioning condensate drains without cleanouts built into them.

I simply use my drill and a small diameter vari-bit to make a hole on the top of the elbow after the trap. The hole is just large enough to snake the square end of a zip tie into and clear the clog.

Once the water is down the drain, it is easy to clean the pan and rebuild the drain with a proper cleanout. The hole is small enough that it doesn’t compromise the elbow and can easily be sealed with a piece of foil tape for economy-minded customers who don’t want to pay for a cleanout tee or drain rebuild.

Existing holes get easily snaked on maintenance checks followed by several squirts of cleaner ensuring proper drainage, then resealed.

Jeremy Graham

Parkey’s Heating and Plumbing

Colorado Springs, Colo.


Air-conditioning condensate cleaning No. 2

Flushing and cleaning air-conditioning condensate drains, particularly in attic spaces, can be a difficult task. I have found the use of a very large laundry detergent bottle with a push button spout can make this task much easier and result in a more reliable flushing of any condensate drain.

The appropriate size Fernco coupling is always recomended to facilitate future access to the drain for flushing. With a Fernco, an elbow fitting and a 1-ft. or 2-ft. length of pipe, the laundry bottle can be used to flush the drain through the elbow and stand pipe when securely but temporarily connected to the drain with the coupling.

Two helpful hints:

• If the drain pipe is 3/4 in. CPVC or smaller, an additional coupling can be installed at the top of the stand pipe to increase the opening and allow more room for the spout on the laundry detergent bottle.

• The taller the stand pipe, the quicker the bottle can be discharged for a more effective flushing.

Bob Wisnom

City Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning

Ambridge, Pa.


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