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9 Essential Tools and Materials for DIY Plumbing Projects that Every Household Should Have

Plumbing Materials

Whether you want to save money, learn new skills, or simply feel a sense of accomplishment, going the DIY route is something that anyone has done at least once in their life.

However, be it as simple as fixing a leaking faucet or something as complex as replacing a bathtub, these projects require all sorts of tools and equipment. Having the right plumbing tools make home repairs and DIY installations easier, and most often, a DIY project will be impossible to complete without the appropriate tools.

If you are a homeowner who wants to do your own plumbing work, here are ten plumbing tools you should have in your toolbox:

1. Plunger

A drain plunger is the first tool you will need if you have a routinely clogged drain trap in a sink, tub, or shower. There are two types of plunger: a cup plunger and a flange (or toilet) plunger.

The former has a rubber cup that fits over the drain opening, and the latter is designed with an extended inner flange that fits down into the drain opening of a toilet. The flange helps seal around the hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl.

With the bottom opening sealed, the plunger can then effectively create the hydraulic pressure necessary to dislodge most clogs from a toilet. There are also some plungers that can serve both functions as it comes with an inner flange that can be tucked up inside the cup when it is not needed.

2.  Drain Auger or Drain Snake

Clogged drains are one of the most common plumbing problems at home. That is why it is important to have a drain auger (also known as drain snake) at home. This tool features a long coiled-metal cable that is used to unclog the drains.

You do this by feeding the cable into the drain and using a twisting action to either pierce through the clog to loosen it or grab the clog all the way up to pull it out.

Functionally, a drain auger and drain snake work the same. The only difference between the two is their size. Drain snakes work for smaller drains like your kitchen or bathroom sink (1 to 1/4″ up to 2″ range) whereas drain augers are used for larger pipes like those in your toilet or shower drain (1 to 1/2″ up to 3″ range).

3. Tongue-and-Groove Pliers

Plumbers used to carry a whole collection of pipe wrenches of different sizes to make sure that they would have the size fit for the job. But with the invention of the tongue and groove pliers (also known as channel-type, slip-joint, or Channellock pliers), there’s no need to carry many wrenches at once.

This tool is similar to regular adjustable pliers, but it has extended adjustment sections and angled jaws, which allows you to grip pipes or other plumbing parts of almost any size.

The long handles are good leverage for squeezing and twisting Tongue and groove pliers are used to grip heavy steel pipe or to gently tighten large plastic nuts on sink drains.

Plumbing Tools - Wrench

4. Basin Wrench

Also known as a sink wrench, a basin wrench can is a handy tool for changing out an old faucet in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry sink. This self-tightening wrench has a pivoting head with a long handle, which are designed for loosening or tightening the fittings in hard-to-reach places.

5. Pipe Wrench

Although there is not much need for pipe wrench anymore due to the handiness of the more popular tongue and groove pliers, it is still a necessary plumbing tool when working with large threaded iron or galvanized steel pipes.

Fittings such as the water heater nipples, yard hydrants, or pressure regulators require the use of a pipe wrench to unscrew them. This tool is also essential when removing large drain cleanout fittings.

For plumbers, it is common to have two pipe wrenches to prevent stress on the fitting. One wrench will be used to hold the pipe or fitting steady whereas the other is used to turn the adjoining piece.

6. Adjustable Wrench 

An adjustable wrench is a quintessential plumbing tool used to remove fixture shutoff valves, compression nuts, and supply tubes on faucets and other fixtures.

It has great leverage and grip which allows it to grip round objects securely by digging its sharp serrated teeth into the pipe with increasing pressure as the wrench is turned.

That said, it is not recommended to use it when handling shiny fixtures or fragile pipes like copper water pipes. Instead, these are primarily designed to be used on galvanized steel, iron pipe, and on heavy-duty fixtures with rough finishes like outdoor spigots or hydrants.

7. Compression Sleeve Puller

A compression sleeve puller is a tool used to pull the compression ring and nut off of the water pipe. If you have copper, PEX, or CPVC tubing in your house, chances are you have  fixture shutoff valves or other fittings that use compression fittings.

While it is usually easy to unscrew the valve by holding it with pliers or a wrench, you still need to unscrew the nut with another pair of pliers or a wrench.

Moreover, the compression sleeve often remains stuck on the pipe, which makes it quite hard for you to remove the ring and compression nut. Such problems could be easily avoided with the use of a compression sleeve puller.

8. Tubing Cutter

A tubing cutter is a tool used to cut plastic tubes. Although most plumbing pipes can be cut with a hacksaw, a tubing cutter makes the work much easier as it is specifically designed for the job.

Depending on the material you are working with, you will need different tubing cutters. There are tubing cutters for copper, PVC plastic, and PEX tubing, so make sure you know what material you are working with so that you can buy the right kind of tubing cutter. 

9. Plumber’s Tape

Plumber’s tape is an essential material for all plumbers as it prevents leaks at threaded plumbing connections. Also known as Teflon tape, this tool is a thin white tape made with PolyTetraFluoroEthylene (PTFE) that gets wrapped around the threads on pipes and fittings before twisting the parts together.

It acts as a kind of lubricant that helps in smooth threading while also helping to seal the joint to prevent leaks.

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