Tool Makes Opening Cleanout Plugs Easier

Wrench kit helps plumber open frozen drain cleanout plugs with minimal effort.

Tool Makes Opening Cleanout Plugs Easier

Roto-Rooter technician Rance Okudara uses the cleanout-plug wrench kit from Odd Shop Ltd., attached to his drill to open a drain cleanout at a job site.

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Opening frozen drain cleanout plugs used to be about a 50/50 proposition for Rance Okudara, a technician at Roto-Rooter of Honolulu: They either came off pretty easily or turned into a half-hour-long struggle.

Things are different now, however, courtesy of a cleanout wrench kit made by Odd Shop Ltd., a fabrication shop in Pennsylvania.

The kit is designed to help plumbers easily remove most common-size cleanout plugs with either raised square, countersunk square or countersunk slot caps.

“I’ve opened up hundreds and hundreds of cleanouts and you never know what to expect,” says Okudara. “But this tool makes things a lot easier.

“A really frozen cap might take me 30 minutes to remove,” he says, recounting a technique that’s all too familiar for many plumbers: Get a cold chisel and a mini-sledgehammer and “pound the crap” out of the cap to try and jar it loose, he notes.

“And if that fails, I’d take a titanium drill bit and drill holes through the cap, use a hacksaw or a Sawzall to ‘pizza-pie’ cut it into pieces, then put on a new plastic cleanout cap when I’m finished working on the drain,” he says.

Okudara notes it’s also possible to pull a toilet and clean a drain from there instead of using a cleanout. But that can lead to other problems, too, such as broken closet bolts or replacing damaged flanges, not to mention the extra time it takes to reset the toilet.

“But with the Odd Shop kit, I can usually remove a frozen cleanout cap in 30 seconds or less,” he explains. “And time is money. Saving up to 30 minutes per job adds up to a lot of time every week and allows me to get to other jobs faster and make more money. I get paid by commission, so efficiency is very important to me.”

STRONG AND DURABLE

Hand-fabricated out of mild steel, the kit includes sockets that accommodate the following square raised-head cleanout sizes: 7/8, 1 1/16, 1 1/4, 1 3/4 and 2 1/8 inches. It also includes sockets that fit the following square countersunk cleanout sizes: 3/4, 7/8 and 1 1/8 inches. In addition, it offers a 1/4-by-1-inch slotted socket wrench; a 1/4-by-1 3/4-inch slotted socket wrench; a two-piece, 17-inch T-handle for generating more torque; and a steel storage box.

“They’re very strong tools,” Okudara says. “They don’t deform or bend under high torque.”

Okudara prefers to use an impact drill with the various wrench heads, which are designed to fit a 3/4-inch socket head. Because his Matco Tools impact drill has a 1/2-inch drill shank, Okudara bought a 3/4-inch-to-1/2-inch socket adaptor/reducer to accommodate the size difference, he says.

“A 3/4-inch drill is very expensive and the adaptors work great,” he notes. “The hammering action of the impact drill is very effective.”

The wrench set sells for $315, or $285 without the steel storage box. The Odd Shop also sells wrench heads individually.

WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT

Okudara says the Odd Job wrenches really shine in commercial bathrooms, where brass cleanout caps often are countersunk as much as 6 inches below floor level.

“You’re never going to get a wrench down there,” he says. “But I use a socket extension and tap it right off with the impact gun.”

The plumber and drain cleaner concedes that the price of the wrench set initially gave him second thoughts, especially since he buys his own tools.

“But after so many situations where I’ve quickly removed stuck caps that otherwise would’ve taken me 30 to 40 minutes to remove, it’s been a totally worthwhile investment,” he says. “I’ve more than covered my initial investment because I’m so much more efficient.

“It also reduces fatigue and the chances of getting injured while chiseling metal,” he continues. “Any time you can use less force, it helps you conserve energy for when you really need it.”

In the end, the tool fits Okudara’s preference for working smarter, not harder.

“You always want to make work easier for yourself and this definitely does that,” he says. “Every drain cleaner should have one. It’s a great, great product.”  



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