Finishing Your Basement

Essential Plumbing Tools Everyone Should Have

If you're just moving out on your own for the first time, or if you've finally taken the plunge into becoming a homeowner, you're going to have to deal with plumbing in a way that you might not have had to before. As you'll quickly discover, emergency calls to a plumber whenever a leaky pipe or clogged drain occurs can become quite an expense--a clogged drain can average $100 or more to clear. That means you'll want to be able to respond to some of the more minor plumbing issues that crop up on your own.

Your ability to respond to a plumbing issue starts with your toolbox. By building a toolbox with these essential plumbing supplies, you'll be in good shape to handle some of the typical plumbing issues that homeowners face on your own.

Essential Tool #1--Plungers

If you've ever been in a bathroom, you're probably familiar with plungers. This simple device has saved many embarrassed residents from clogged toilets for a long time. However, your plumbing tool arsenal should contain two distinct types of plungers:

  • Cup plunger--This plunger is a rod with a simple rubber cup on the end of it. This is used to clear clogged drains in sinks and other basins, such as showers.
  • Toilet plunger--Unlike the cup plunger, this tool has a cylindrical opening and a closed bulb. The opening fits into your toilet's drain and forces the air from the bulb downward.

It's important to use the proper plunger in the appropriate scenario. While a cup plunger can certainly clear a clogged toilet on occasion, you'll have much more luck with the proper device. As a homeowner, you should have both types and know when to bring out each one.

Essential Tool #2--Serrated Pliers

When dealing with plumbing fixtures and pipes, you'll often need to have a good, stable grip on slippery surfaces. Making matters worse, it's common for these areas to be wet--making it almost impossible to have a strong grasp with typical tools. Your choice of pliers is critical to your success in this situation.

You'll want a couple of different pliers, with different sizes and adjustment options. The important point, however, is that these pliers are serrated. The ridges on the nose of the pliers make it easy to hang on to whatever it is that you're working with. 

Essential Tool #3--Spray Lubricant

Since there's so much water in the vicinity when dealing with plumbing fixtures, rust is an inevitability. Corrosion on these joints makes it difficult to work with a fixture, even when the area around the fixture makes it easy to gain access. Since quite a few of these joints are in tight quarters, the task becomes even more difficult.

Spray lubricant can help immensely with this problem. By using a little bit of spray before you attempt to loosen a nut or joint, the process works much better. Often, this is the difference in a homeowner's process between working out a problem alone or calling the professional.

Essential Tool #4--Plumber's Tape and Caulk

Leaks are one of the most common plumbing problems that a homeowner faces. The thought of unchecked water running rampant in a home makes even seasoned homeowners rush to the phone. However, many leaks can be solved with simple tools and very little labor.

Plumbers's tape, when wrapped around the threads of a pipe fitting, can help create a tighter seal than existed before. If a pipe is leaking at the joint, this is a great first place to start. Caulk is often all that's required when the leak is at the floor or around a tub or basin. If you have these items in your toolbox, you can try this first before making that expensive call to the pro.

Quite a few plumbing issues should only be attempted by a licensed professional. That said, if you have the right tools and a little bit of courage, many of the minor--yet expensive--issues you'll face as a homeowner can be tackled with ease.


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