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Canisters of fuel can be purchased separately; in them the pressured, liquid propane is stored. When it is released via the valve and nozzle, the gas vaporizes and can be lit to form an even flame. The intensity of the flame is controlled by the valve, which allows more or less gas to escape.
Small canisters of propane have the brass burner and valve assembly screwed directly onto the mouth of the container. The tank then doubles as a handle during the heating process. Other models are available that have larger tanks that are connected to the nozzle via a hose. These are considerably more expensive, but the nozzle is lighter and easier to use in the cramped quarters that so often are the rule in plumbing.
When used and stored properly, propane torches pose few risks. But they must be used with care.
Always turn the torch off immediately after use. Never allow its flame to point in the direction of any flammable material. Store the torch carefully, away from any source of heat. Discard empty containers properly (many suppliers will accept them as returns).
Pipe Wrench. The pipe wrench (recognizable to some as a monkey wrench) is an adjustable wrench generally used to grip pipes or rods. The head jaw is at the end of the handle, while the hook jaw hangs from a pivot that slides along the back of the handle.
What distinguishes the pipe wrench from other adjustables (and specifically from those more properly known as monkey wrenches) is the pivot. Unlike adjustable wrenches, the pipe wrench's serrated jaws are not fixed parallel to one another, but when pressure is put on the handle, the pivot causes the jaws to close slightly. This clenching action allows the tool to grip round workpieces. Pipe wrenches are made of steel with hardened jaws.
Pipe wrenches are intended to be used to turn a pipe or other round workpiece in one direction; in order to change direction, the wrench must be removed and the position of its jaws reversed.
Basin Wrench. This is one of those specialty tools that has few uses - except at the moment you need the basin wrench and only the basin wrench will do.
The basin wrench has the head of a pipe wrench and the neck of a giraffe. It's designed to reach up behind the bowl of a sink and connect or disconnect the nuts that fasten the faucet or other fittings that provide water to a sink.
The pipe wrench jaw is mounted at right angles to the length of the handle; at the opposite end, there is a T bar for torquing the tool. The mechanical equivalent of a periscope, in a sense the basin wrench allows you to work where your hands can't reach. It's a relatively inexpensive tool that will quickly prove its worth when retrofitting kitchen faucets or other sink fittings.
The Plunger. Even if you never plan to do any sweat fittings or plumb any plastic pipe, the plunger is a tool that may have a role to play in your household. It doesn't have anything to do with running new pipes; its job is to help clear blockages (i.e. unclog toilets) in old ones.
The plunger consists of a molded rubber cup mounted on the end of a wooden handle. Sink plungers have a simple, hemispherical cup; those designed to unclog toilets have a conical extension at the mouth of the cup that inserts into the throat of the toilet. This helps assure a tight fit and adds force.
To use a plunger, position its cup over a sink, tub, or toilet drain. Fill the sink or other receptacle to a depth that covers the cup. If there is an overflow drain in the sink or tub, block its opening with a rag or a strip of duct tape. The cup must make contact with the sink around its entire perimeter. A coating of petroleum jelly around the rim of the cup may help insure an airtight seal.
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