Alright. Roll call.
No matter if you’re an amateur or professional, there are certain tools that every plumber cannot do without.The right tools will help you solve all kinds of common plumbing problems. Trust us: as plumbing professionals serving homes across Montana — including Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls and beyond — we’ve seen just about everything. So consider this list a preventative measure. For those of you looking to add to your toolbox, here are seven plumbing tools you should run out and get immediately.
Call it what you want: a plunger, a force cup, a plumber’s friend, the grandaddy of plumbing tools. It’s the first thing you think of when you think of plumbing — and for good reason. This bad boy clears clogs in sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets.
There are actually two main kinds of plungers:
- Cup Plunger: although this is probably the plunger you have in your house, cup plungers work best on flat surfaces. For this reason, they are most effective for clearing clogs in sinks, tubs, and showers.
- Flange Plunger: this kind of plunger has the flexibility to fit in odd places — like a toilet bowl. In addition to the cup section of the plunger, a soft rubber flap folds out from inside the cup to provide form-fitting suction.
No one knows who invented the toilet plunger (or if they do, it’s a family secret). It’s been around for centuries, though, and it’d take a brave soul to live without a plunger in your home.
2. Pipe wrench
The pipe wrench is another classic tool for plumbing. Adjustable and armed with hardened serrated teeth, this heavy-duty wrench is effective for tightening and loosening threaded pipes, fittings, and nuts.
When using a pipe wrench, it’s helpful to keep the following tips in mind:
- When dealing with disassembled pipes, it’s much easier to have two pipe wrenches handy — one to twist, and one to hold.
- To prevent unsightly scratches to your pipe fixtures, muzzle your wrench by wrapping its teeth in an old cloth.
3. Basin wrench
A basin wrench, also called a sink wrench, is a must-have for working in confined spaces (which, when you’re plumbing, is pretty much a given). This wrench looks more like a claw than a wrench — but with its extra long handle and swiveling clamp at the end, you can reach near-impossible places. The basin wrench’s jaw can pivot to be perpendicular to the handle, allowing you to tighten or loosen hard-to-reach nuts and bolts.
In other words, you’ll need this funky-looking tool. Your sink will thank you for it.
4. Tongue-and-groove pliers
Tongue-and-groove pliers are your do-everything tool. Grab, twist, pull, hold, tighten, or loosen — you name it, this pair of pliers can do it. The slip-joint allows the serrated jaws to go extra wide and extra narrow, making these pliers effective for a wide variety of nuts, bolts, and pipe fittings. If you’re just starting out with your toolbox of plumbing tools, these pliers are a good start.
5. Adjustable wrench
You may already have this wrench in your toolbox. If you do, then you know that an adjustable wrench is essential for all plumbing parts with hexagonal-shaped nuts, like supply lines and compression fittings. If you don’t have this wrench, then go out and get one now. Seriously. We’ll wait.
To be truly prepared for all kinds of plumbing encounters, you should two sizes of adjustable wrenches: a six-inch and a 10-inch will keep you covered.
6. Metal file
If you’re the ambitious kind of DIY plumber who’s cutting metal pipes, then you’ll want to smooth those sawed edges with a metal file. While it’s relatively straight-forward, you’ll want different file sizes to ensure you get the job done right:
- Half-round file: this versatile file is suited for both flat and round surfaces.
- Rat-tail file: this file is round and tapered, making it effective for enlarging circular holes and slots.
You’ll feel a bit silly owning a metal file without having a hacksaw in your toolbox. This saw has all kinds of uses, from cutting through metal pipes, screws, nuts, and bolts to cutting through PVC. A piece of advice for all you hacksawers? When making tough cuts, the blade should be tense in the frame (and having extra blades will come in handy).
8. Bonus Tool: Your Phone
There are some problems that can’t be easily solved with DIY plumbing. For those “uh oh” moments, give us a call and we’ll be there to help you out.