The Essential Plumbing Tools List: 35 Different Types & Their Uses
Whether you’re a professional plumber or just a homeowner looking to DIY some pipes, there are a few tools that are necessary to have in your toolbox. Many of these tools are necessary for most plumbing jobs, while others are important to work efficiently.
You don’t have to purchase all of these tools at once, but you will need to build up your toolbox over time. For those looking to get started, this is the list to use.
The 35 Essential Plumbing Tools
We’ve broken down this list into wrenches, pipe work tools, tools for clearing clogs, plumbing safety equipment, and other essential supplies. Click below to jump to a section:
- Pipe Work Tools
- Tools for Clearing Clogs
- Plumbing Safety Equipment
- Other Essential Tools & Supplies
The 7 Types of Wrenches:
When tightening or removing nuts and bolts in the plumbing, you’ll need several wrenches. There are about four wrenches you need to do your job effectively. Most can be found in various sizes, so you’ll likely want to invest in sets of each type of wrench.
If you’re on a strict budget, you may be able to get away with just buying wrenches of standard sizes. However, if you can afford it, we highly recommend buying sets.
1. Pipe Wrench
Every plumber needs a pipe wrench, even if you do the occasional DIY job. It is the most massive wrench a plumber probably needs and is used to tighten and loosen the nuts that hold pipes together. If you’re going to work on pipes, you need to have this wrench.
Most experienced plumbers work with a whole set of pipe wrenches—they’re that important. However, if you’re just starting, you can probably get away with just one for now.
2. Basin Wrench
The basin wrench is specially designed for working on faucets. It is T-shaped and has a clamp mechanism that helps reach narrow spaces to tighten hard-to-reach nuts and bolts often found on faucet plumbing.
If you plan on working on faucets, you need this wrench. It is not a tool you can live without.
3. Adjustable Wrench
An adjustable wrench is helpful for a wide variety of tasks. If one of the other wrenches isn’t suitable for the job, an adjustable wrench will likely work. It works best for hexagonal nuts, which are commonly found on pipes of all sorts.
Most plumbers have various sizes of adjustable wrenches. Even for beginners, we recommend picking up various sizes, just in case.
4. Faucet Key
This isn’t technically a wrench, but it is a necessary part of any plumber’s toolbox. These small tools are designed to open and close spigots and sillcocks. If you want to be a serious plumber, you must work on spigots at some point. There are different tools for dealing with various stem fittings, so you may want to invest in a set.
5. Garbage Disposal Wrench
This wrench is used explicitly for garbage disposals. If you have a garbage disposal, you should have one of these. It can turn the shredder and help clear clogs. This inexpensive tool can prevent you from calling a plumber.
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6. Shower Valve Socket Wrench
The shower valve socket wrench is used for installing and removing shower valves, tub fittings, and nuts. The average homeowner will probably have a problem with their shower at some point, so it is always a good idea to have this simple wrench. Without one, you really can’t work on showers.
7. Strainer Locknut Wrench
These special wrenches are designed for strainer locknuts. You can’t get them off without one , not easily, anyway. Because of that, every plumber needs one of these wrenches in their toolbox.
The 13 Types of Pipe Work Tools:
As a plumber, you’ll spend most of your time working on pipes. To do this effectively, you’ll need quite a few tools. Mostly, these tools will be used to cut pipes and create seals.
A hacksaw is necessary for cutting pipes, and without one, you may be unable to complete projects. They can also be used to cut through nuts and bolts. You should keep multiple blades nearby, just in case your primary blade breaks.
9. Plastic Pipe Cutters
Today, many pipes are made out of plastic. You’ll need a plastic pipe cutter to work on plastic pipes, which you’ll run into a lot, whether you’re a professional or a home DIYer. Luckily, these cutters aren’t expensive, so you should have no problem stocking them in your toolbox.
10. Plumber’s Torch
For those who work with copper pipes, a torch made for soldering them is necessary. Otherwise, you won’t be able to complete your project effectively. These small, handheld tools can quickly solder pipes in tight places where a standard torch won’t reach. They also allow you to solder more carefully and precisely, which is essential.
11. Thread Sealing Tape
This tape is used to carefully seal small leaks or prevent possible leaks from occurring to begin with. It can be used at a threaded joint connection to make them stronger and prevent possible leaks. There are many sealing tapes available, but high-quality tape is necessary. If you’re going to splurge anywhere, splurge on this.
High-quality thread sealing tape is resistant to temperature changes, can stretch to form better seals, and never dries out. The low-quality tape will likely wear down faster and needs replacing more often.
You need pliers to work on pipes. You will be using them every day, just like wrenches. You should choose a pair of slammer pliers since you will likely work in tight places. These are great for bolts and nuts that are too far for your wrenches to reach. Get the smallest pliers you can since you’ll mostly be using them to fit into tight places.
13. Press Fitting System
You aren’t much of a plumber if you can’t connect pipes. These fitting systems physically press two pipes together, creating a seal that water can’t escape. There are other ways to seal pipes, but this is the best system to do it cheaply.
You may have to spend more money upfront for one of these press-fitting systems, but it is worth it.
14. Acid Flux Brush
Whenever you’re soldering, you need this brush to apply the proper paste to copper pipes. This is a simple tool, but it is essential to solder a copper pipe. There is no need to spend much on an acid flux brush.
15. Combination Tool
At some point, you’ll need to clean the pipes. If you have a combination tool, the job is much easier. Plus, it can prevent you from needing to change out pipes as often, which can save you money in the long run.
While this isn’t a “must-have” tool, it is incredibly nice to have. We recommend it to all professionals and homeowners who fix their plumbing .
16. Deburring Tool
Often, you’ll need to remove burrs from pipes. Deburring tools make this much faster, easier, and safer. They are cheap as well. You can get a whole set for around $15. Most of them are also pretty high-quality and will last for a long time.
17. Reaming Tools
This simple tool enlarges pipe holes and openings. You’ll need to do this at some point, though most projects will not require it. It is always best to have a reaming tool on standby in case you need it. However, you can wait to purchase it if you’re on a strict budget.
18. Metal File
After cutting, you’ll need to smooth the edges of the pipe. Metal files are the quickest and easiest way to do this. We recommend them for anyone cutting pipes, including homeowners who might use them occasionally.
19. Plumbing Brushes
These small brushes are for cleaning the inside of pipes. They are usually small brushes with metal bristles. They are perfect for cleaning the inside of pipes, which you’ll probably be doing often. These simple tools can make your life much easier, so we highly recommend them.
20. Tube Benders
At some point, you’ll need to bend plastic and copper pipes into new shapes. You may be able to put off buying tube benders until you need to purchase pipes. However, if you have the extra cash, having tube benders handy can be extremely helpful.[/thrive_text_block]
The 3 Types of Tools for Clearing Clogs:
Clearing clogs is another necessary part of a plumber’s job. If you are a homeowner, you’ll probably want to learn how to clear clogs yourself. It will save you quite a bit of money in the long run since you won’t have to call a plumber every time a stubborn clog develops.
You’ll need a few tools to clear the most stubborn clogs quickly.
Plungers are an essential tool used to clear clogs. Every homeowner should own one, even if you aren’t planning on doing much work on your pipes. We recommend a heavy-duty flange and a cup plunger, which produce more suction than your average plunger.
Many plumbers recommend these only for trade professionals, but we recommend them for all homeowners. Plungers can eliminate most clogs quickly.
22. Hand Auger
These circular, handheld devices allow plumbers to drive a cable through a pipe. This hopefully breaks up stubborn clogs, helping other tools to clear them away completely. Over the past few years, these tools have become even more powerful. Now, they can sometimes even clear clogs away by themselves.
There are many models on the market with different capabilities. Choose the one that works best for your situation. While this isn’t necessarily a “must-have” tool. It can be handy when you need to clear away tough clogs.
23. Snake Machine
Snake machines are larger, motorized versions of the hand auger. They’re more comfortable to use than a hand auger and can be used for tough clogs. They have more power than a hand auger.
You probably don’t need this machine and a hand auger if you’re a homeowner. However, a professional might need both for different situations. Our recommendation is to purchase a snake machine if you have the money and a hand auger if you don’t typically deal with clogs.
The 3 Types of Plumbing Safety Equipment:
Plumbing usually isn’t seen as a dangerous profession. However, you still need some essential safety equipment. You are often working with hot equipment like blowtorches, after all. Below, you’ll find some necessary safety equipment for even the most straightforward plumbing jobs.
Debris or chemicals can damage your eyes when you’re a plumber. Contaminated water, bits of metal, and sparks can all injure your eyes while closely examining pipes and leaks. You should always wear goggles when doing plumbing work.
You should also have a set of nice gloves that you work with at all times. You’ll probably be touching materials that shouldn’t be touched with your bare hands. Heavy-duty gloves are necessary and protect your hands from sharp metal, extreme temperatures, and chemicals.
26. Heat Shields
If you’re soldering, you need a heat shield to stay safe. You’ll need one to protect yourself and the surrounding area from the torch’s heat. It also prevents unnecessary fires, which can occur when flammable material gets too hot near the soldering torch. Look for premium brands for the best protection rather than lower-quality materials.
The 9 Other Essential Plumbing Tools and Items:
There are some other tools you might want for your toolbox. Many of these are not essential. You could probably do most basic plumbing jobs without them. However, if you have the extra money and space, they can make your job much easier.
27. PEX Pipe Expander & Fittings
This is a unique pipe system that is much easier to work with than traditional tools. The PEX pipe expander is flexible and can be expanded with a drill-like tool to widen the mouth of the pipe. Then, a metal fitting can be inserted. The pipe retains its shape after being stretched, so it quickly closes around the metal fitting, creating a seal that water won’t pass through.
Crimpers are essential for working with PEX piping of all sorts. Because PEX is becoming more common, it is essential to have a pair of crimpers in your toolkit, just in case. You can also use them on other piping, such as joining two pieces of metal together.
Overall, crimpers are versatile tools to have. In some situations, they may even be necessary to complete the job. If you’re a homeowner, determine which pipes are used in your home. If PEX pipes are installed, you need a pair of crimpers to work on them appropriately.
- See Also: Best RJ45 Crimpers
29. Stubby Screwdriver
Plumbers work in tight spaces. Stubby screwdrivers are often necessary to reach screws in hard-to-reach places, and they’re less expensive than most of the tools on this lists.
For professionals, a borescope is necessary. Homeowners might consider this a frivolous expense, but it can be well worth the money in many situations. It is a small camera tethered by a flexible cable. You insert it into drains and sewer lines to see the problem. Many models today connect directly to your smartphone, making them convenient.
If you do a lot of plumbing work, a borescope can make your job much easier.
You never know when you’ll need to drain water or deal with something you probably don’t want to leave on the floor. A bucket is a tool that is easy to overlook, but it is necessary for many plumbing jobs.
32. Caulk Gun
Repairing seals around sinks and tubs is essential, and you’ll probably have to do it eventually. When this happens, you’ll need a caulk gun ready to go. They are pretty cheap, and you could likely put off buying one until you need it. However, it is always a good idea to have one in case you need to seal a small hole around the sink or tub.
33. Jab Saw
This simple tool is also known as a keyhole saw or drywall saw. You probably won’t need to use it often as a plumber. However, it can be useful for those rare projects that require one. Jab saws are not particularly expensive in the least, so it is probably a good idea to have one.
34. Putty Knife
35. Pressure Test Gauges
Pressure test gauges are used to check for leaks and water pressure problems. They only perform this one niche job and won’t be used for every project. However, they are essential when checking water pressure, so even the average homeowner should have one.
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While this is not a completely exhaustive list of essential plumbing tools, it will get you out of most plumbing predicaments. It’s not essential to get all these tools immediately, but most are inexpensive, so see what you can afford when augmenting your plumbing tool kit. The next time the toilet breaks, you’ll be glad you have them.
- See Also: The Essential Construction Tools List
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- See Also: The Essential Roofing Tools List
Header image credit: stevepb, Pixabay