Cleaning old drain fittings

When doing repair and replacement plumbing around kitchen and some laundry drains, I often run into heavily corroded cast-iron or galvanized drain fittings. I find the 1 1/2-in. NPT threads partially eaten away but most often filled with rust and sediment. This makes it challenging to attach my new drain parts and get a good, tight seal to the old work.

I went online and, for under $150, purchased a 1 1/2 -in. by 11 1/2-in. NPT, carbon steel, seven-flute pipe tap, as well as a 1 1/2-in. by 11 1/2-in. NPT, carbon steel, hexagonal rethreading pipe die. Both these items work great for rethreading and cleaning up the existing threads of the old drain fittings. The tap can be turned with a 10-in. adjustable wrench, and the die can be turned with a pipe wrench or large jaw adjustable pliers, both common tools with most plumbers.

David White

White Home Improvement

Cupertino, Calif.


Removing faucet washers

I have used this trick many times. Sometimes when trying to remove the installation nuts and washers that hold down a faucet, they are rusted on or the plastic ones have the tabs broken off. A basin wrench is usually not going to work. I grab my small Dremel tool with a cutting blade and slice the nuts a couple of times. I then take a screwdriver and pry the pieces off. This also works great for removing frozen nuts on basket strainers. 

Mike Caputo

Gehrett Plumbing



Easy DIY gasket

When in the field or in the shop and in need of a small gasket, I instruct my mechanics to place a gasket sheet between a steel ball at an open end of a pipe. Hammer down the ball to compress the gasket material to cut a hole from the inner diameter of the pipe. Then center the same gasket on a smaller pipe with a larger ball; hammer down on the steel ball to form the new gasket.

Carrying a set of steel balls, matching pipe ends and gasket material ends in the truck makes a very convenient and quick gasket.

Al Edelstein

J.J. August

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