Whether you’re a seasoned plumber or you’re starting a new plumbing business, you already know without the right tools, it’s difficult to get the job done. While plumbing technology may mean innovations in tool design along with new gadgets and machines, you’ll always need the essentials in your toolbox.
With the wide array of tools available, what defines an essential plumbing tool?
In today’s post, we take the plunge and talk in-depth about the plumbing tools every plumber needs. Take a minute and see if you’re missing one of these critical tools in your toolbox.
Plumbing Tools and PVC Pipes
What’s the one thing plumbers wrangle with the most? Plumbing pipes, of course. While you’ll always run into the old iron pipes, most plumbing systems in homes and businesses today run PVC pipe.
Plumbers cut a huge amount of PVC pipe, which makes a high-quality PVC pipe cutter an absolute essential. We mentioned innovation at the beginning of this post. Cutting PVC pipe from the inside is one area where tool design uses innovation to make a plumber’s day easier.
When you can cut your pipe from the inside, it reduces the need to dig it up.
Most plumbers keep a hacksaw available for cutting metal pipe such as the copper tubing used for hot and cold-water lines. You’ll also need a metal file for smoothing pipe edges and a brush for dusting off debris after you file.
You’ll keep several miscellaneous items in your truck for your pipe cutting jobs including:
You should also invest in a miter box to ensure precision when you’re cutting pipe.
The Iconic Plumbing Wrench
You can’t get much more basic (and essential) than the wrench. Expert plumbers never keep only one wrench in the toolbox. Because they work with pipes in varying sizes, they need multiple wrenches.
Most often associated with plumbers is the pipe wrench. Recognized easily by their adjustable and serrated jaws, pipe wrenches come in large and small sizes. You’ll use your pipe wrenches on metal pipes and fittings.
Invest in a good quality adjustable wrench. Also known as a Crescent wrench, this tool works great when you need to remove compression nuts, angle stops, and supply lines. Go for the gusto when you buy this wrench—a high-quality adjustable wrench will last a lifetime.
Also called a sink wrench, your basin wrench comes in handy when you need to change worn out faucets. Basin wrenches self-tighten and work well when you need to loosen or tighten fittings, especially in difficult to reach spaces.
Don’t forget a set of fixed wrenches. You’ll find both open and closed-ended wrenches and should keep a set of standard and metric sizes.
Ever Used Channel Locks?
If you’re like many modern plumbers, you keep at least 2 pairs of channel lock pliers in your toolbox. You may also know these pliers by the name tongue and groove pliers.
Channel locks grab and pinch things with their adjustable jaws. You can adjust them to fit any size object. Some channel locks come with an undercut tongue and groove, which prevents slipping.
For a plumber, these pliers make a versatile tool since they’re used not only as pliers but also as clamps and wrenches.
Tools Designed to Deal with Clogs
If you’re not prepared with the right tools for clogs in sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets, you’ll frustrate yourself and your customers. Clogs are one of the main reasons homeowners and businesses need a plumber.
Most homeowners keep a toilet plunger around to deal with minor backups. Some may even have a drain snake. Plumbers don’t mess around with those types of plungers.
Instead, they use a power auger—a mainstay of any plumbing business. If you’re new to the game and haven’t used a power auger you’re missing out on yet another tool designed to make the job easier.
The power auger uses a variety of tips attached to a flexible cable. The tips break up large clogs that a standard plunger or drain snake can’t move.
The reason a power auger uses tips in different sizes? You never know what kind of obstruction you’re facing. Plumbers find all kinds of interesting items when they unclog a drain. Cell phones, dolls, toy trucks, and bones from a family’s chicken dinner.
Just wait—you’ll have your stories too.
Sewer Inspection and Cleaning Tools
All plumbers offer sewer inspection and cleaning, right? It’s part of the job and you can’t do it well without the right tools.
Your power auger is one essential tool for sewer cleaning but what about a sewer camera? If you haven’t invested in this waterproof camera, there’s no time like the present. A video camera inspection not only helps you and your crew locate major clogs it allows you to offer an additional service to your customers.
Offering sewer inspections as part of a homeowner’s or business owner’s yearly plumbing maintenance adds another stream of income for your plumbing business. Market sewer inspections to people buying homes, and you add yet another service your customers will appreciate.
As your business grows, you may also add sewer jetting to your marketing strategy. Sewer jetting entails using pressurized water to scour the insides of sewer pipes. Today, many plumbers perform sewer jetting using specialized truck-mounted equipment.
Tools for Working with Tubing
In addition to PVC pipe, plumbers also work with metal tubing. If you’re installing or repairing metal tubing and supply lines, you’ll need tools designed specifically for those types of jobs.
The hacksaw, metal files, and brushes we’ve already talked about work on PVC pipe and metal tubing. Here are a few more tools you should make sure you keep in your truck:
- Propane Torch
- Swaging Tools
- Tube Benders
- Emery Cloth
- Acid Flux Brush
Even if you start out primarily dealing with clogged drains, you will work with your share of copper tubes, especially if you get into working on plumbing installation projects.
Plumbers Need Spare Parts
Plumbing pipes and lines include several metal parts. Those parts corrode over time due to mineral buildup and rust. You may need to replace metal parts when you repair leaks or replace sections of plumbing pipes.
Plumbers need a range of spare parts in the toolbox, including pipe fittings, washers, O-rings, and valves.
Don’t forget the extra blades. In addition to a hacksaw, many plumbers use jigsaws and reciprocating saws. These saws all use replaceable blades and it’s a good idea to keep a set in your truck.
Miscellaneous Plumbing Tools
Don’t let the word miscellaneous fool you. Even a simple bucket is essential to a plumber (and you can’t ask the homeowner to borrow theirs). Most plumbing jobs require a whole slew of odds and ends, which we’ll list below.
- Caulk Gun
- Silicone Caulk.
- Plumber’s Putty/Tape
- Putty Knife
- Socket Set
- Tape Measure
- Construction Pencils
- Pressure Test Gauge
If you’re a seasoned plumber, you likely have your own list of miscellaneous tools you’ve come to rely on for your daily work. For the new kids on the block, this list makes a great starting point when you’re preparing for those first jobs.
Essential Plumbing Safety Tools
We can’t leave off without touching briefly on the essential safety tools plumbers should keep in their truck. You’ll have many opportunities over your plumbing career to sustain work-related injuries, but with these tools, you can minimize your risk. You’ll also minimize any danger to your customers and their homes.
Start with safety glasses and a sturdy set of work gloves. Add a pair of steel-toe boots or shoes to protect your feet if you should drop something heavy like a water heater. Make sure your shoes include non-skid soles, after all, you do work in a wet environment.
What about head protection? If you do commercial plumbing work, job site regulations may require a hard hat. It’s not a bad idea for residential plumbers to keep a hardhat nearby, especially if you’re working in a confined space.
Keep in mind plumbers often deal with hazards such as mold, lead, and asbestos. You may want to keep protective coveralls handy as well as masks or even a respirator depending on the environment you work in.
We listed a propane torch as an essential tool earlier. Along with the torch, you should also have a fire extinguisher in your tool collection. Don’t forget the fire-resistant cloth—you’ll need it when soldering so that you prevent combustible surfaces from catching on fire.
Need More Ideas for Your Plumbing Toolbox?
While we’ve tried to cover the essentials, most plumbers have their favorite go-to plumbing tools for the variety of jobs they do every day. If you start with the basics listed in this post, you can continue adding to your tool collection as you gain more experience and expand your services.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, continue browsing our article archives. You’ll find more information on the popular tools plumbers use.
For more information on our innovative inside pipe cutters and more plumbing tools contact us today.