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The Essential List of 12 Plumbing Tools for the Home

If you own a home, it’s inevitable that at some point you will have to deal with a simple plumbing problem.  While we don’t recommend you taking on major plumbing problems, there are a few common plumbing problems like a clogged sink or toilet, broken PVC pipe on a sprinkler system, a leaky pipe that you should be able to handle without calling a plumber.

We’ve put together a list of plumbing tools that should allow you to address most simple plumbing repairs.  While not mentioned below, tools such as a hammer, various screw driver types and sizes, a tape measure, shovel, goggles and gloves should be a part of any homeowner’s tool box.

The List of Plumbing Tools Every Homeowner Should Have on Hand

  1. Tongue & Groove Pliers – Also commonly called Channellock pliers, this slip-joint plier has serrated jaws and can easily be adjusted to assist in grabbing, twisting, pulling, holding and tightening or loosening any connection.
  2. Pipe Wrenches – A pipe wrench is considered a heavy wrench and can be used for tightening or loosening plumbing fittings or nuts. It’s a good idea to have at least 2 on hand, one for holding and the other for turning.  Often if you locate a leaking pipe fitting, just tightening the connection will alleviate the problem.
  3. Basin Wrench – When working under a sink a basin wrench is an essential tool. With its long shaft and adjustable swivel clamp it can access narrow or tight spots like directly under your sink where your fixtures are attached to your waterlines or drains.
  4. Adjustable Wrenches – As with Pipe Wrenches you will probably need 2 of these. Because an adjustable wrench allows you secure a tight and secure grip on hexagonal nuts and fittings it’s ideal for fixing compression fittings, and supply lines.  We recommend a 6” and a 10” adjustable wrench for your tool kit.
  5. PVC Primer/PVC Cement – If you’ve ever discovered you have a leak in your sprinkler system what might seem like a major disaster can usually be fixed by the homeowner. Any hardware or “box store” will have the necessary couplings in the size you need to join PVC pipe together.  After turning off the system and digging up the area around the broken pipe, cut the pipe with a hacksaw blade and use PVC Primer/PVC Cement along with a clean coupler to rejoin the pipe together.  Once you’ve determined there are no leaks refill the hole and you’re back in business.
  6. Hacksaw – Not only will a hacksaw help you fix your sprinkler system when the PVC breaks, a hacksaw is essential for cutting through metal pipe, and rusty bolts or nuts. Be sure to always have some spare blades on hand.  Most hacksaws are adjustable depending on the job so keep a supply of different sized blades on hand.
  7. Thread Seal Tape or Plumber’s Tape – The most inexpensive item for any plumber’s tool kit, it’s also an essential one. If you’re planning on replacing a shower head or any fixture where you will be joining threads on joints, plumber’s tape will make the job easier.  Plumber’s tape acts as a lubricant and a seal allowing you to achieve a tight seal for your new fixture.
  8. Caulker or Caulking Gun – Whether you’ve just installed a new toilet or are looking to seal areas in a bathroom or kitchen around tile, sinks, the bathtub or shower, caulk is designed to seal the surrounding area to prevent air and water from entering. With a little practice anyone can learn how to neatly apply caulking.  Be sure to keep several types of caulk on hand, as different jobs require different types of caulk.  Never use acrylic caulks as these tend to crack and shrink.
  9. Tubing Cutter – When the repair job calls for cutting copper pipe a tubing cutter is the right choice. While a hacksaw can be used on plastic PVC or metal pipe, a tube cutter is designed specifically for copper pipe.  Tube Cutters look a lot like a “C” clamp and is the most effective tool for cutting copper without damaging it.
  10. Hand Auger & Closet Auger – More commonly referred to as a “snake”, a hand auger is as its name suggests, a hand cranked tool used for clearing a stopped drain. Usually around 20 to 25 feet in length a hand auger is perfect for cleaning a shower or bathtub drain, or a clogged sink.  It’s an excellent alternative to using a chemical cleaner that can damage pipes.  When you’re trying to unclog a toilet and a plunger won’t suffice, use a closet auger instead of a hand auger.  This type of auger is designed specifically to be used on toilets
  11. Metal File – When you’ve had to cut a metal pipe with a hacksaw it often leaves rough edges that you’ll want to smooth out before attaching a new fitting. We suggest you have 2 types of metal files on hand.  The first is a half-round file and a rat-tail file.  A half-round file has flat and rounded surfaces while a rat-tail file has tapered and round surfaces.
  12. Toilet Plunger – We’ve saved the most common plumbing tool of all for last. Often referred to as the “Plumbers Best Friend”, the plunger is the first tool to reach for when you have a clogged toilet, sink, bathtub or shower.  There are 2 kinds of plungers, Flange and Cup.  A flange plunger is most ideal for toilets, while a cup plunger works best on sinks, bathtubs and showers.

We hope this list will help you in keeping your home running smoothly.  If you’re faced with a plumbing problem and aren’t sure how to handle it, call the professionals at The Clean Plumbers for plumbing solutions you can count on.