Guide to Plumbing Tools

One important factor often overlooked is the maintenance of tools. It is best to keep them dry, and most you wipe with an oiled (like machine oil) rag to keep them from rusting. It is also very important to buy quality tools. When it comes to tools, you do pretty much get what you pay for in the long run. So make sure that you do buy good quality tools as this can make the difference on how well your project comes out. Good organization of your tools can prevent some severe frustration when you need that certain tool in a hurry. Keeping them organized can make a difference on whether or not you want to continue the project for the day or give up because you don’t want to have to go looking for a tool.

Here are the basic tools you will need for most plumbing projects:

Caulk gun This is used for holding tubes of glue or caulk and pushes out a bead used for sealing spaces.
Flashlight A small flashlight that you can hook or hang and point to where you are working is best.
Circuit Tester A circuit tester is used for testing current in an outlet or appliance.
Ratchet Wrench This is a quick way to tighten or loosen bolts of various sizes using different sockets.
Hacksaw You use this to cut metal and plastic pipes. You can change blades for various materials.
Small Wire Brush This is a very handy item, and I have used it numerous times for many things. Good to have.
Utility Knife It’s easy to cut and trim the ends of pipes using a utility knife. Has so many uses.
Chisel Use this with a Ball Peen Hammer to chip away mortar, tile, or hardened metals.
Ball Peen Hammer This is used for hitting other metal objects like the chisel. It is made to resist chipping.
Files These are great for smoothing out rough edges of various materials like metal and plastic pipes.
Use round ones for smoothing insides of pipes.
Screwdrivers Two good quality screwdrivers, one being a phillips, and one a straight (or flat), are usually the main ones you will need.
Adjustable Wrench This type of wrench has a movable jaw that can adjust to different sizes of bolts and screws.
It is very important to have a high quality adjustable wrench and use it properly.
Channel Pliers A great tool worth using for many projects not just plumbing.
These pliers are designed for maximum gripping power with serrated jaws that prevent slipping.
Putty Knife Often overlooked, but is great for getting into the cracks to get out putty and caulk.
Tape Measure I like to always keep this hooked onto my pant belt loops when I’m doing a project because I use it every 10 minutes.
Needlenose Pliers These are great for getting into the smallest places and are quite powerful.
Level You will need this to make sure your project is level to prevent a lot of problems later on.
Closet Auger This is used to clear toilet clogs. It is a tube with a crank handle on the end that you turn.
The other end is a long metal tube that spins to unclog your toilet.
Hand Auger This does the same thing that a Closet Auger does, but for drain lines and you can apply pressure.
Also called a snake, as the metal tube comes out and slithers it’s way into the drain lines.
Tube Cutter This is the best tool for cutting pipes. It makes nice clean smooth edges.
Plastic Tubing Cutter This resembles and works like a pair of pruners. It is used to cut flexible plastic.
Spud Wrench This wrench is used for tightening or loosening large nuts and bolts.
Plunger It is used for clearing clogs in sinks, tubs, showers, and floor drains, by using water and air pressure.
It’s best to get a flanged one so you can also use it to clear toilets also.
Blow Bag or Expansion Nozzle You can use this to clear drains by attaching it to a garden hose, works best on floor drains.
Propane Torch and Spark Lighter Use the propane torch to solder fittings.
Pipe Wrench These have a movable jaw like most wrenches but are used for tightening and loosening pipes with larger dimensions.
Many people use two at the same time to prevent damage to pipes and fittings while turning.

If you would rather use power hand tools, you can either buy or rent them. Many power tools can be rented at your local hardware store. Some power tools you might want to consider to make things a little easier are:

A cordless power ratchet
Power Screwdriver
Power Drill
Reciprocating Saw
Right Angle Drill
Power Miter Box
Motorized Drain Auger
Cast Iron Cutter
Appliance Dolly
Heat Gun

These are tools that can make the job easier but are not necessary. Just remember to get quality tools, keep them well organized, and well maintained. Having the proper tools, knowing what you need them for and how to use them, and keeping safety issues in mind can make your next plumbing project go much smoother.

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