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Plumbing Tools List – Everything You’ll Need for DIY Projects

plumbing tools
DIY February 14, 2020
Arthur Brodskiy
Arthur Brodskiy

If you’re planning on being a hands-on, DIY-type of homeowner, you need a solid foundation before you can do any work. And the most important part of that foundation is your toolset. Doing plumbing repairs throughout the house calls for several different tools to be used. And when trouble strikes, you want to be prepared. Here’s a list of the essential tools for any DIY plumber. 

 

Box Wrenches

 

box wrenches

 

Box wrenches are common wrenches that you may already have. They are non-adjustable, meaning you need a very specific sized box wrench depending on the bolt you’re working on. Luckily, these wrenches typically come in complete sets, giving you a full arsenal of sizes to choose from.  

 

Channel Locks

 

Channel locks are a type of adjustable pliers commonly used by plumbers. They have a slip-joint, which allows the jaws to be adjusted to fit the size of the nut or bolt you need loosened. What makes channel locks so effective are the amount of leverage you can get, making them perfect for loosening tough bolts. They’re sort of a wrench and pliers hybrid. 

 

Crescent Wrenches and Spud Wrenches

 

Crescent wrenches are adjustable wrenches that work better than channel locks if you’re working with nuts or bolts that have a chrome finish. Since they have a smooth surface (as opposed to the hard teeth of channel locks), crescent wrenches can get the job done without scratching your bolts. 

 

Spud wrenches are similar to crescent wrenches except they have a spike on the other end. The spike is used to line up holes and slots for bolts. Spud wrenches are fairly uncommon, but having one around wouldn’t hurt. You never know when you’ll need that spike to line something up.

 

Pipe Wrench

 

plumbing wrenches diy

 

If you live in an older home with galvanized steel pipes, you’re definitely going to want to invest in a pipe wrench. Pipe wrenches aren’t used to loosen nuts or bolts like other wrenches. They’re specifically designed to turn and loosen pipes and pipe joints. These wrenches get a lot of leverage, and they can scratch and scuff up pipes, so make sure you only use them on steel or copper pipes. 

 

Basin Wrench

 

Basin wrenches (or tap or sink wrenches) are specifically designed to access nuts in hard to reach places, like under and behind sinks. The wrench has a long shaft with a pair of spring-loaded gripping jaws on one end, and a handle at the other end. The jaws can be reversed depending on whether you have to tighten or loosen a bolt. 

 

How To Use a Basin Wrench:

 

The first step is to position the jaws so they are facing the opposite direction you need to rotate the nut. So if you need to loosen a nut (by turning it to the left, or counter-clockwise), you want the opening of the jaws oriented to the right. 

 

Simply guide the jaws open by hand and close them around the nut. Now, use the pivoting handle to force the nut loose. You typically only need to give it a half or full turn and you’ll be able to continue removing the nut by hand. If you need some extra leverage, you can use an adjustable wrench to create a stronger handle on the shaft.  

 

Blow Torch

 

plumbing equipment blow torch

 

If you have copper or galvanized steel pipes in your home, a blow torch is a handy tool to have at your disposal. When working with copper pipes, you’ll have to solder pipes and joints together if you’re doing any repairs. And with galvanized steel pipes that are prone to corrosion, heating up pipe joints with a blow torch will help you loosen up joints that fused together. 

 

Wet/Dry Vacuum

 

Also known as a Shop-Vac (which is actually just the name of a wet/dry brand), the wet/dry vac is a great all-around tool to have around the house. If you’re ever dealing with a clogged or slow-moving drain, you can use a wet/dry vac to suck up any standing water. Having a dry area to work with makes any DIY job that much easier. 

 

One thing to keep in mind is these machines have an air filter. If you’re planning on sucking up water, you’ll want to remove the air filter first.

 

Hacksaw

 

hacksaw

 

Hacksaws are great for slicing though metal pipes. They vary in quality so if you’re looking to saw through anything stronger than cheap plywood, make sure you spend a little extra and get a quality saw. If you’re doing something like replacing a toilet or toilet flange, you might need to cut the heads off the bolts on the base of the toilet. Investing in a mini hacksaw will make that job a lot easier.   

 

Drain Snakes or Augers

 

Snakes and augers are effective tools for breaking free the various clogs that will inevitable show up in your drain pipes. Bathroom sinks, toilets and bathtub or shower drains generally see a lot of use and can easily get blocked up with hair and other obstructions. Snakes allow you to get around the various curves and bends in your pipes and either snag the clog or push it loose.  

 

PEX Tools

 

If you’re going to be working with PEX pipes, there are a few specific tools you’ll need. First thing you’ll need is a PEX pipe cutter. This will give you clean cuts in your PEX piping. Then you’ll need crimp rings and a crimp tool. Both are also designed specifically for PEX piping. You can get all three for around $50 online or at a home improvement store. 

 

Water Pressure Gauge

 

Pressure gauges are something we mention quite a bit here at Flo, and for good reason. Water pressure is an important marker of your home’s plumbing health. A good pressure gauge will let you know right away if you have low or high water pressure, important knowledge in troubleshooting plumbing issues. 

 

How to use a water pressure gauge:

 

Pressure gauges are extremely easy to use. All you have to do is locate a spigot or threaded faucet. Ideally, you want to find something that’s as close to the water main as possible. Just thread the pressure gauge onto the spigot and turn the spigot on. You should get an instant pressure reading. 

 

Flo by Moen

 

Checking on your water pressure is a good thing, but getting a reading only after you suspect a problem could mean you’ve already got some water damage to deal with. For the truly proactive homeowner, using a device that keeps constant tabs on your home’s water pressure will help you avoid serious plumbing disasters. The Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff is a smart home water security system that monitors water pressure, temperature and flow while constantly checking for leaks. 

 

A Tool For Every Job

 

Each home plumbing project requires a different set or combination of tools, but if you have the essentials covered, you should be able to tackle most projects. An alternative to buying all these tools at once is to just buy them as needed. In that case, reading this guide has given you a primer on what tools you’ll need.

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