Pennsylvania Plumber Relies on 3 Key Tools

Matt Mertz, owner of Matt Mertz Plumbing, Inc., reveals a few of his go-to tools.

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Through trial and error, plumbers find a few go-to tools that help them work faster and smarter. Matt Mertz, the owner of Matt Mertz Plumbing Inc. in Wexford, Pa., is no exception. Over the years he spent transforming his company from a one-man shop into a wide-ranging outfit, he’s discovered several tools he can’t live without.

Here are some of Mertz’s favorites:

• RIDGID RP-210 ProPress tools. Instead of soldering fittings, Mertz owns 12 of these tools, which hydraulically crimp together permanent, water-tight fittings. “They’re much easier to use than soldering and way quicker, too — about three or four times faster,” Mertz explains. “And there’s no pipe cleaner or welding flux to apply, plus no risk of fire. It does take a little bit of the art out of the trade, but it’s so much faster.”

In order to use the hydraulic crimpers, plumbers must use special ProPress fittings, which are about four times more expensive than standard fittings. And the tools require periodic recalibration that only RIDGID or a RIDGID dealer can perform. But standard fittings aren’t that expensive to begin with, and the overall savings through reduced labor and material costs more than make up for the added expenses, he says.

• M-Spector 360 pipeline cameras. The company owns 12 of these tiny hand-held cameras, made by Milwaukee Tool; crews use them to make minimally invasive plumbing diagnoses. For example, if there’s a water spot on a ceiling, crews will use a hole saw to drill a hole into the ceiling, then snake the tiny camera head into the stud cavity to see what’s going on, rather than “blowing a huge hole in the ceiling,” as Mertz puts it. “It minimizes damage to houses, which in turn reduces the time our crews have to spend on repair work.”

• SC75 tracked hauling buggies: “My guys love them,” Mertz says about the company’s two gas-powered buggies, made by Canycom USA Inc. Instead of wheelbarrows, crews rely on the motorized haulers to carry pea gravel that’s used as a base for sewer-lateral replacements. The machines have a maximum payload capacity of 1,665 pounds and can travel up to 6 mph.

“They can climb a pretty steep grade, too, and the bucket articulates so we don’t have to always keep turning around the machine,” Mertz says. “They’re huge time savers and the guys don’t get as tired. I like to make sure we’re efficient, so I’m not afraid to spend money for equipment that’ll help. Some days they save us four hours a day in labor.”

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