If you work around your house, you probably already
have many of the tools needed for plumbing work. Among the general-purpose
tools you will need are hammers, chisels, screwdrivers, pliers,
a hacksaw, soldering tools, and various wrenches. You can buy
specialized tools as required, or merely rent them for a particular
Material taken from
Readers Digest "New Complete do-it-yourself manual"
addition to the wrenches you probably have in your tool kit, several
specialized wrenches may be needed for plumbing. Chief among them
is the pipe wrench, an adjustable wrench with serrated jaws. You
will need two of them—one for holding a pipe or fitting and
the other for turning the connecting piece. If you grip a polished
surface, such as chrome pipe, with a pipe wrench, tape the tool's
jaws or wrap corrugated cardboard or rags around the surface. This
prevents damage from the wrench's teeth. Don't use a pipe wrench
on thin pipe; it might crush it.
wrenches are used for turning large flat-sided nuts, such as the
locknuts on a sink drain. Get an adjustable one. Socket wrenches,
which fit over nuts or valves, may be needed to turn the valves
of faucet stems. Instead of jaws, chain wrenches and strap wrenches
have lengths of chain or fabric that loop around a pipe to hold
it. Use them on large-diameter pipes and hard-to-reach connections.
(A strap wrench won't damage a polished finish.) A basin wrench
is a long-handled tool with an adjustable jaw at a right angle to
the handle. You'll need it for hard-to-reach connections beneath
If you are fixing a leaky faucet, you may need an Allen wrench of
the appropriate size to insert into the opening of the faucet's
valve seat to loosen and remove it. If the valve seat cannot be
removed, get a valve-seat dresser, or grinder, for smoothing rough
spots on the valve seat.
and flaring tools
can cut most small pipe with a hacksaw; the blade should have 24
or 32 teeth per inch. Special pipe cutters are available for copper,
steel, or plastic pipe. You will need a reamer for removing burrs
from the freshly cut pipe—either a hand-held tool or a bit
for your drill. If you are working with brass or steel pipe, you
may require a set of dies and a diestock—a wrench for holding
dies—to cut threads.
Flaring tools are used to widen the ends of flexible metal or plastic
pipe before joining with a flare fitting. You can get individual
flaring tools (one for each size pipe) or a more sophisticated mechanical
tool that will flare all sizes.
is essential for clearing clogs. Get one with a funnel-type cup.
The flexible tube extension, necessary for plunging a toilet, can
be folded inward to fit over a drain.
the plunger fails to clear a clog, you'll need an auger. A trap-and-drain
auger, or snake, is a long flexible tube with a spiral hook at one
end and a locking handle at the other. Power-driven snakes are available
for clearing main drains. The shorter closet auger, used for toilets,
has a crank handle.
tape, and packing
addition to tools, you will need pipe joint compound, a paste applied
to pipe threads to prevent leaks and make disassembly easier. Sometimes
pipe tape is wrapped around the threads in place of the compound.
Plumber's putty seals joints between sinks or tubs and their drains
or faucets. You may also need a supply of string like packing, called
wicking, to repair faucets.