Plumbing issues are no fun for any homeowner. But with the right tools at hand, many situations can be quick fixes. Even some more drastic plumbing problems can be kept at bay while you wait for the professionals to come do the heavy lifting.
Whether you need to unclog drains or tighten a faucet, these are the eight basic plumbing tools you need to have in your home tool kit:
A good plunger is a necessity for every home. While deeper and large blockages will often require professional assistance, you can unclog drains with just a few quick uses of a flange plunger (with a sleeve-like extension that fits snugly in the toilet center).
Plungers aren’t just for toilets either. Small cup plungers can be used to unclog drains in sinks with food blockages that can’t be reached by hand.
There are many kinds of wrenches out there, and every homeowner should have at least a few. For plumbing work, the most useful wrenches tend to be a pipe wrench with sharp teeth that grip and a basin wrench (useful for accessing hard-to-reach faucet nuts). You will also want an adjustable wrench for a wide variety of fits.
3. Plumber’s Tape
Also known as thread seal tape or Teflon tape, plumber’s tape is used specifically for achieving a watertight seal between pipes. This is good information to know, because these seals are loosened whenever they are taken apart or the fittings are changed.
By the same token, it’s also a good idea to add rolls of electrical tape and duct tape to your home plumbing tool kit. Both can be very useful for securing loose fixtures and sealing cracks on the fly.
Just like wrenches, there are many different types of pliers. For your basic plumbing projects, you’ll want a good set of tongue and groove ones to access and grip small, irregularly-shaped objects. Pliers can also be useful when struggling to loosen tight nuts and bolts.
5. Pipe Snake
A drain auger or “pipe snake” is a very effective tool to unclog drains, especially when the blockage is deep. Pipe snakes range in size and material, but they all work in generally the same way — weaving a coil through the drain pipe to reach the clog and dislodge it.
If you’ve never used one before, consider consulting with professionals because improper handling may cause damage.
Caulk is an extremely useful item to have on hand for sealing up leaks. Put in a caulking gun for easy, precise application, and simply add an even amount around problem areas.
You can even seal up the end of the gun with some duct tape to prevent the contents from drying out (for future use).
7. Plumber’s Putty
For smaller cracks and lower-pressure leaks around drains and pipes, application of plumber’s putty can be a faster, more convenient fix than caulk.
It’s easy to mold and great for use on both smooth and grooved surfaces. Many people even use plumber’s putty as an extra seal around drains just as a precaution.
Though being able to saw through a pipe isn’t necessary in most simple plumbing situations, the need does arise when you least expect it. Consider adding at least a compact, adjustable hacksaw to your collection for emergencies or even when the pipe you bought ends up being just a little too long. Always wear protective gloves and practice safety when using a hacksaw.
Feeling silly about stocking up on tools without an active plumbing problem? Just remember that pipes and drains don’t wait until it is convenient to get clogged or break. Being able to make small repairs quickly is crucial to preventing extensive, costly damage. Even minor issues can quickly become more problematic when you’re unable to address them right away. In this case, foresight goes a long way.