Even if you are not a professional plumber, there is no reason to panic every time a toilet gets clogged or your sink is dripping. Learning the basics of plumbing is essentially common sense and basic plumbing skills are something that every homeowner should learn. Not only will this save you money (most plumbers charge upwards of $75 dollars an hour), but you might also be able to save your home from extensive damage in emergencies when a pipe bursts.
As with most “do it yourself” projects, having the right tools on hand will go a long way to helping you get the job done right. Fortunately, most of the essential plumbing tools are fairly inexpensive, easy to use, and can be found at your local hardware store. Below, we look at the five must have plumbing tools that will help you do everything from unclog your drains to stop that annoying dripping sound from your bathroom sink.
Before sawing through the pipes or replacing an entire sink, a sink auger is an essential tool that you should have on hand to try to unclog kitchen and/or bathroom sinks. This tool has a flexible stainless steel cable with a corkscrew on the tip. You can turn the cable to help it wind through the drainpipe. The corkscrew top is great at grabbing the clogged “junk” to pull out of the drains. It should be noted, however, that you should never try to use this tool for toilets
If your plunger is not working to unclog a toilet, a toilet auger (also closed a closet auger) might do the trick without forcing you to disconnect any pipes. Like the sink auger, the toilet auger has a long metal rod that you force down through the hole at the bottom of the toilet. Once you feel the clog, the rod can be twisted and pushed in order to break up the clog and allow gravity to do the rest of the work.
If you have a faucet that is incessantly dripping, you will most likely see a surge in your monthly water bill. Before you begin to replace pipes and fittings, however, you should try to simply apply a new coat of plumbers tape to the thread. This tape, also known as thread seal tape or Teflon tape (the brand name), is wound around pipe threads thus sealing the joint and making it easier to tighten the fittings.
Tongue and Groove Pliers
A great all-purpose tool for almost all plumbing jobs is tongue and groove pliers, also known as channel locks. This tool has long handles, angled “jaws”, and several adjustment positions that allow you to loosen or tighten a wide array of nuts, bolts, and other plumbing fixtures.
If you have tried to fix clogs and drips with augers, plumbers tape, and using your Channel Locks to open up fittings without success, it might be time to take out the hacksaw to cut through some of the plumbing fixtures. Hacksaws can be used for both PVC and metal pipes, and are a great resource if you do need to replace a pipe or cut through a piece of piping that is irreparably clogged. Just make sure to have your water source turned off and have the appropriate fittings to replace the pipes that have been cut.
With these five simple tools, you should be able to attend to several different household plumbing problems, even if you are not a skilled, professional plumber.