Contractors Finding Easier Ways to Handle Toilets

Tools for moving and setting bulky toilets reduce the risks of injury and product damage.

Contractors Finding Easier Ways to Handle Toilets

The Pick Up Stix Toilet tool from Stickman Tool.

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It’s not unusual for today’s one-piece toilets to tip the scales at more than 100 pounds and cost more than $500. As such, these beasts are unwieldy to carry and install and expensive to replace if dropped and damaged — not to mention putting technicians at risk for back injuries.

But thanks to the TK300 Toilet Kart and Pick Up Stix Toilet tool, these concerns are a moot point at Budiac Plumbing and Heating in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, and Home Team Plumbing in St. Petersburg, Florida. Technicians at Budiac Plumbing — owned by master plumber Larry Budiac and his wife, Margie — rely on the Toilet Kart, made by Pipe-Tytes. And at Home Team Plumbing, the aptly named Pick Up Stix Toilet tool, made by Stickman Tool, gets the job done.

Budiac says his company, which was established in 1998, owns six Toilet Karts. They’re a handy tool for a company that installs an estimated 500 toilets a year. (The company does both service and repair plumbing, as well as high-end remodeling throughout the Milwaukee and surrounding metro area, and it employs 12 people).

“There’s a Toilet Kart on every one of our trucks,” says Budiac, who runs six service vehicles, either Ford F-450s or GMC 3500 box vans with bodies made by Grumman Olson, Midway Specialty Vehicles or Supreme. “They collapse, so they don’t take up a lot of room; you just pull out two pins and fold it up.

“We use them mostly for skirted or concealed-trapway toilets,” he continues. “They’re heavier toilets, and you’re leaning over to set them. They’re easy to break. And we do a lot of high-end remodeling where people have no problem paying $800 for a toilet, so the last thing we want to do is break one. In that regard, the Toilet Karts pay for themselves.”

LESS LABOR REQUIRED

Moreover, the Toilet Karts — which take only a minute or two to set up — improve on-the-job safety by reducing the potential for back and other injuries incurred while lifting such heavy and bulky items. In addition, it makes moving and setting toilets a one-man job as opposed to a two-man job, he adds.

“We believe in investing in tools that makes our lives easier,” Budiac says. “The Toilet Kart is pretty nice for resetting even the smaller standard toilets when you’re working in tight spaces, where it’s often difficult to pick them up, clean off the wax ring and reset them.” (Note that the Toilet Kart will not work on some newer toilets that don’t have a rear rim.)

At Home Team Plumbing, which was established in 2016 and focuses primarily on service and repair plumbing and drain cleaning in the Tampa Bay (Florida) metro area, Bryan Hammons says the Pick Up Stix tool has proven to be a simple, but effective and hygienic solution to moving heavy toilets. The tool is an 18 1/2-inch-long aluminum rod with one rigid end and one end that’s spring-loaded; protective tips made from recycled rubber cover each end to protect the toilet from damage. It weighs just under 1 pound.

Here’s how it works: Put the rigid end of the tool under one end or side of the toilet bowl rim, then compress the spring-loaded end so it fits under the other end or side of the rim. After that, release the spring-loaded end so it firmly nestles under the rim.

For elongated-bowl toilets, the tool can be placed lengthwise in the bowl; for smaller standard toilets, it can be installed from side to side. In either case, the rigid end of the tool should always be inserted toward the user.

IMPROVES EFFICIENCY

“It’s one of those tools where you stop and think, ‘Holy crap — the guy who thought of this is a genius,’” says Hammons, who co-owns the company with Jeff Grzetich. It employs eight people and runs six service trucks, either Chevrolet 2500 Express vans or Ford Transits. “It makes it so easy to lift a toilet, especially one-piece toilets, which are kind of awkward to carry. It’s not a tool that looks like something really great until you try it. Then you think it’s amazing.”

Hammons says there’s a “night-and-day difference” between carrying a toilet with the tool and without it. “You don’t have to wrap yourself around the toilet and risk hurting your back — no more awkward carrying,” he explains. “It provides a good surface to grab onto and gives you a good center of gravity. I’d say it makes jobs 20 to 25 percent faster.”

Since the company’s inception, employees have incurred several back injuries from carrying toilets or scratched themselves badly enough on broken toilet remnants to require stitches. But technicians haven’t suffered any more such injuries after the company invested in 10 Pick Up Stix tools, Hammons says.

“I would absolutely recommend this tool to other plumbers,” Hammons says. “I rave about them all the time. It’s one of those things where I wonder why I didn’t think of it.”



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