Tool Tips

Water closet wax rings for upper-floor bathrooms

To reduce the worry of leaks in the ceiling from an upstairs water closet installation, I have found that if the closet ring is set too high, the space between the toilet and the wax ring is minimized, causing the wax to thin out. When using a plunger for a stoppage, the thin, weak wax ring can sometimes blow out and result in nasty water leaking down to the lower floor. 

To prevent this from happening, I use a second wax ring and stretch it out to enlarge the hole so it completely fills in the area around the first wax ring when compressed (as shown in drawing). This causes a thicker seal and reduces the likelihood of a blowout when plunging a stoppage and only at a cost of a wax ring. It’s cheap insurance for your customer.

Loren Sanders Sr., retired
San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station
Pendleton, Calif.


New uses for old fitting brushes

As a licensed plumber and HVAC mechanic, I always keep old 3/4-in. and 1/2-in. fitting brushes in my tool bag because they have so many uses. The old brushes are great for cleaning paint and other miscellaneous junk from copper before sweating; I can save my good brushes for fittings. 

On the HVAC side, nothing cleans out pilot hoods, flame sensors, millivolt generators and thermocouples better than a 1/2-in brush. I use it for Venturi burners, too; it cleans the flame channel in front without worrying about hitting the igniter. 

When good condensing appliances go bad, the brushes do a fine job at cleaning the rust off metal after the repair, making it easy to tell if there may be leaks in the future. 

Jeremy Graham
Parkey’s Heating and Plumbing
Colorado Springs, Colo.


Using Teflon tape in tight spots

When I need to put Teflon tape on pipe threads in a tight spot where the roll of Teflon does not fit, I simply take a screwdriver or a pencil and apply Teflon to its tip as I would on any threaded end. I make sure I put an ample amount of Teflon on the screwdriver and then apply the Teflon as I normally do to the old pipe. 

Lamp wick or Quick Wick hoop wick works on tight spots as well but Teflon serves as a lubricant, which helps ensure a leak-free joint. 

Kostas Stathakis
F & T Mechanical
Astoria, N.Y.


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. The first-place winner each month will receive a RIDGID Prize Package worth $200. Read here for more details.