Having the right tools when you need them can make all the difference when unexpected plumbing problems arise. You may already have some of these essential tools for general household use, like wrenches and screwdrivers. Adding a few specialized tools to your toolbox can make your next plumbing task much easier.
As you expand your skills you can add the tools in this guide to your toolbox and be prepared to take on most plumbing tasks and emergencies when they arise. In the list below, you’ll find the most useful plumbing tools listed by the projects with which they are most typically used.
• Cup Plunger – A rubber cup attached to a wooden handle that applies a forceful burst of water to clear
clogs in sinks, tubs and showers.
• Shower Valve Socket Wrench – Used to remove and install shower, tub fittings and nuts. This
specialty tool has an extra deep socket that fits around the valve stem to reach the area where the
valve stem attaches to the valve body behind the wall.
• Garbage Disposer Wrench – This handy tool can be inserted into disposers to turn the shredder and
clear the clogs.
• Strainer Locknut Wrench – A specialty wrench with one stationary and one pivoting jaw designed to
provide maneuverability and leverage for easy removal of basket strainer locknuts.
• Faucet Seat Wrench – Use this to remove and replace the faucet body valve seat in compression
faucets, which are the type of faucets found in many older homes.
• Basin Wrench –Tightens and loosens the nuts under a sink that hold the faucets in place. The long
shaft and swiveling jaw can be placed in narrow, hard-to-reach areas and lock onto nuts for easy
• Adjustable Wrench – This open-ended wrench has one fixed and one movable jaw to fit a variety of bolt
heads and nuts. The jaw adjusts easily with a worm gear accessible on both sides of the wrench head.
The smooth jaw prevents marring of softer metals such as brass, bronze and copper.
• Socket Set – A tightening tool that uses individual removable sockets to fit many different sizes of nuts
and bolts. Also known as a ratchet set.
• Flange Plunger – A plunger specially shaped to seal the hole in a toilet, creating a vacuum that clears
clogs from toilets. Most effective in clearing toilet clogs than a cup plunger used with sinks.
• Tubing Cutters – This is an essential tool if you’re going to work with plastic or copper pipe. It
uses a steel wheel to cut pipes easily and effectively. It is mainly used for precise cuts with even ends
for well-fitted joints. If you’re working in a small space consider a mini tube cutter.
• Metal File – A metal file smoothes the edges of pipes after cutting, for a better seal at joints. Keep a
half-round and rat-tail file on hand. This tool takes the form of a steel bar with a series of sharp teeth.
Most files have a narrow tang at one end to which a handle can be fitted.
• Hacksaw – A hacksaw comes in handy during times when you need to cut through metal or plastic pipes
and screws. Do not use a hacksaw to cut through pipe where the ends will be connected at a joint. Save
yourself an interlude while working by having extra blades on hand.
• Slip Joint Pliers – Ideal for jobs that require grabbing, pulling, twisting, holding, tightening and
loosening. Also known as water pump pliers, tongue and groove pliers, or by the brand name Channel lock.
• Adjustable Pipe Wrench – This is the must-have tool for plumbing repairs, especially for working on
compression fittings, supply lines and other plumbing parts that have hex-shaped nuts. A 10”, 12” or 14”
wrench can be used for most jobs. The serrated teeth provide a firm grip on metal that needs to be turned,
but shouldn’t be used on fixtures with fine finishes.
• Acid Flux Brush – Used to apply paste flux when soldering copper pipe.
• Propane Torch and Igniter – Used for soldering and brazing metal pipe, a propane torch consists of a
bottle that contains combustible, pressurized gas. A match or spring-loaded igniter is used to turn on the
flame, which is directed by a nozzle, with the flow of gas controlled by a fuel-air mixing valve. Some
torches have trigger-type igniters that make it easy to turn on the flame.
• Heat Shield Cloth – Used to shield heat-sensitive or flammable materials from damage when using a
• Combination Tool – Instead of using wire brushes, take advantage of this convenient tool for cleaning
• Emery Cloth – Use strips of emery cloth to clean and prepare copper pipe for the application of flux and
Other Useful Tools
Why is it important that you have a set of tools always with you?
• Plumber’s Tape and Putty to seal threading stop a leak at connection and prevent rust on steel
• Washers and O-rings to stop dripping compression faucets.
• Caulk Gun and Silicone Caulk to replace seals around sinks and tubs.
• Spray Lubricants like WD40 and Liquid Wrench to loosen stubborn nuts and pipe fittings.
• Tape Measure for determining accurate lengths and widths.
• Safety Glasses for eye protection.
• Bucket to catch water when draining lines.
• Putty Knife for applying and removing caulk and toilet wax ring residue.