No-mess shower valve flush

After removing cartridges from shower valves, I often discover that solder, dirt and sand have clogged the inlet of the shower valve, restricting the flow of water. If I turn on the water to flush the valve, water sometimes flows into the wall when the shower valve is fully recessed behind the fiberglass shower.

In order to get the water into the shower, I discovered that an empty paper towel roll will fit into the empty shower valve and allows the flushed water to enter the shower. This saves a lot of mess and avoids any type of possible water damage.

Scott Williams

Guilford, Conn.


Easy cast-iron pipe removal

An easy way to remove cast-iron pipe from a hub is to cut pipe close to the hub. Take two hose clamps of appropriate size and tighten them on the hub. Use a hammer and a chisel to split the cast-iron pipe inside the hub. The clamps prevent the hub from expanding and cracking. I have used this many times with no problems.

Richard Lohman

Larry & Sons

Hagerstown, Md.


Removing toilet ballcocks

We sometimes struggle with changing ballcocks in tight places. With the new design in toilets, it’s sometimes hard to get pliers around the nuts. To remove or replace ballcocks, I take a 1-in. PVC bell-end pipe or coupling, cut two slots 180° apart and it fits perfect. I also use a 1 1/2-in. PVC pipe with slots every 90° to remove the plastic nuts on faucets; cut the pipe about 14 in. long for an easy reach. This does not break the ears off the nut like a basin wrench often does.

Terry Cook

Terry Cook Plumbing

Gibsonville, Conn.


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 Kinetic Water Ram from General Pipe Cleaners with a retail value of $325. Read here for more details.