The Plumbing Tools Every Homeowner Should Have, part 1

Of all the home projects, maintaining and repairing your plumbing might feel like the least accessible. While it’s true that some repairs or installations should be left to a professional, you’d be surprised how much even an inexperienced homeowner could do for themselves with the right tools. Not only will investing in some basic plumbing maintenance tools for your home pay off in the long run, it will also help you feel more ownership over your home and independence.

Picture it now: It’s Saturday. You’re washing your face early in the morning. Then, you notice your faucet is leaking. Without hesitation, you dry your face, grab your trusty toolkit, and get to work. In a matter of minutes, the faucet works like it’s brand new. You replace the toolkit, get dressed, and move on with your day. Also, you look super cool doing it. With the help of these easy to find and use tools, this vision could be a reality.

Here’s a list of the plumbing maintenance tools that should be on-hand in every home.

Flange Plunger

The first thing you think of when you think plumbing is probably plunging toilets. Well, that’s why the flange plunger should be the first thing on your list. A flange plunger has a long handle and a soft rubber cap (or flange) on the inside of the rubber cup. This flap is inserted directly into the toilet bowl’s drain, which makes it easier for the plunger’s cup to form the seal required for de-clogging.

Not only does this make the flange plunger easier to use than most other plungers, it also makes it more effective. A better seal like the one the flange can provide makes for more pressure in the drain, where the clog is. The more pressure you can produce, the better you’ll be able to break up clogs.

For these reasons, the flange plunger is the most effective type of plunger for clogged toilets. We recommend every household have at least one.

Cup Plunger

Toilet clogs aren’t the only clog plungers can break up. If your sinks or showers clog, a flange plunger won’t be ideal for unclogging them. You could fold the flange up inside the cup to make it usable, but it might still not be the right size for your purposes. Besides, you obviously shouldn’t use your toilet plunger on your sink and shower drains.

For sink and shower clogs, the classic cup plunger is the way to go. This is the plunger you probably picture when you picture plungers: a simple, stout wooden handle connected to a cup made of tough rubber. Cup plungers work well on sink and shower drains because they fit easily and snugly over drain openings. Cup plungers also come smaller than flange plungers usually do.

It’s frustrating to try to use a full-size plunger on a small sink, so it’s a good idea to have a mid-to-small sized cup plunger or two around in addition to a flange plunger, for non-toilet clogs.

Pipe Wrench

Pipe wrenches were invented to grip things that are round in order to tighten or loosen them. A pipe wrench has a metal handle and two serrated “jaws.” One of these two jaws remains stationary while the other can be adjusted. The shape, adjustability, and serrated teeth of the pipe wrench allows it to grip rounded appliances easily and securely. A pipe wrench generates considerable force when pressure is applied to the handle. A coil and flat-spring located inside the main wrench housing allows the pipe wrench to be removed straight off the rounded appliance without having to undo the work you just did.   

Pipe wrenches are essential for tightening, loosening, removing, or replacing piping. To use a pipe wrench properly, affix it to the appliance so that the wrench has room to move in the direction you want to turn. Apply pressure until you run out of room, then pull straight back to detach the pipe wrench. Then, put it back where you started. Repeat this motion until the appliance is loosened or tightened.

Don’t use a pipe wrench on easily marked-up plumbing fixtures, or on nuts and bolts. Pipe wrenches apply too much pressure for these appliances, and can damage or break them.

Adjustable Crescent Wrench

Aah, the crescent wrench. It’s the most iconic of wrenches, arguably has the most uses, and should absolutely be something everyone owns. Crescent wrenches are used for tightening and loosing fixtures of all kinds. This wrench is used to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts. It’s adjustable jaw means it’ll work on nuts or bolts of almost any size. Be sure not to use your crescent wrench on rounded nuts or bolts, however. It’ll be hard to get a grip on these, and they could prove too much for the crescent wrench. They’re what your pipe wrench is for!

It’s a good idea to invest in a couple different crescent wrenches of varying sizes. Adjustable jaws will help make your crescent wrenches versatile, but you’ll still want different sizes for reaching into tough-to-get-at places or for large nuts and bolts.  

These are four of the most basic tools every homeowner should keep around. If you have these, you’ll be well on your way toward being equipped to handle almost any routine plumbing maintenance you can think of. There are even more tools you should really consider, however; enough that you should stay tuned for the second part of this blog next month.

In the meantime, if you have any plumbing problems you’re afraid you won’t be able to handle on your own, give us a call anytime. Check out our tools while we’re there! They’re pretty cool. We’re just saying.