Homeowners can easily save hundreds of dollars on plumbing repairs every year by doing them without professional assistance. Most basic maintenance is easy to handle, and all you need is some practice and some equipment. There are several DIY tutorials available online that can help people perform professional-quality repairs if they’re careful. Most repairs require a few essential plumbing tools, so make sure your kit includes items like:
1. Tongue-and-Groove Pliers
Tongue-and-groove pliers have become more popular than regular pipe wrenches because they work on most modern pipes. It is a slip-point tool, which means plumbers can adjust the size of the mouth based on a pipe’s width. Most repair work requires two pliers, one for holding a pipe in place and another to loosen or tighten components. A standard 10-size version is suitable for a wide range of applications, but you should consider having a few sizes smaller and larger as well.
Tongue-and-groove pliers make all kinds of repairs easier by offering a secure grip. They have a long-handle that provides adequate control. Its mouth has some grooves to hold a pipe in place. Plumbers often wrap some tape around the pipe for protection as well as added grip.
Plungers can help clear small clogs or drainage problems, and they aren’t harsh on your pipes like corrosive chemical agents. Homeowners should keep separate plungers for the sinks and toilets in their house. Never use a toilet plunger in your kitchen because that can lead to severe food contamination. A toilet needs a flange plunger, which forms a secure seal over its drain and provides maximum suction.
Kitchen or bathroom sinks require a cup plunger, which is smaller in size. They’re highly effective for smaller drains, providing adequate suction for dislodging stubborn clogs. Most drains experience some form of clogs regularly; these tools can help clear blockages quickly.
3. Basin Wrench
You can’t use a pipe wrench or tongue-and-grove pliers in hard-to-reach areas like behind a sink. These repairs require a basin or sink wrench. A sink wrench is compact and self-tightening. This tool is ideal for removing or replacing faucet lines behind a sink.
Basin wrenches come in different designs, but we recommend getting a telescopic one that bends at a 90° angle. It provides a much better reach, allowing DIY plumbers clear access. You may take more time to learn using a traditional sink wrench effectively.
4. Pipe Wrenches
Pipe wrenches are an essential aspect of any plumber’s kit, especially if they’re working with galvanized steel or iron pipes. While tongue-and-groove pliers are suitable for most plumbing jobs, they can’t work well with threaded installations. You need a pair of durable pipe wrenches for this purpose.
This tool provides enough leverage for unscrewing tightly held pipes or secure new installations properly. You can use one wrench to hold a pipe in place and the other to turn the joint. Pipe wrenches are used for yard hydrants, water heater nipples, or pressure regulators.
They’re available sizes ranging from 8 to 18. Experts recommend having three sizes for maximum use, and you can also ask a hardware store assistant for size recommendations. They will suggest which size is most suitable for a DIY plumbing kit.
5. Adjustable Wrench
An adjustable wrench has a movable jaw, which means you can use it on different sizes of nuts, screws, angle stops, etc. It is ideal for compression nuts, faucet supply lines, loosening or tightening shower-heads, etc. Many professional plumbers use this tool because it is gentle on fixtures. An adjustable wrench applies firm pressure on fixtures without scratching the surface.
A good wrench will easily last a lifetime and help with all kinds of repairs, which makes it a worthwhile investment for a DIY plumbing kit. Ask a local hardware store assistant for an ideal size. Consider having at least three different sizes.
6. Compression Sleeve Puller
Most modern homes have PEX, copper, or CPVC tubing with angle stops or shut-off valves. These components supply water to faucets, toilets, and other such fixtures. You can use a pair of pliers for loosening angle stops or compression nuts, but the compression sleeve doesn’t come off as quickly. Many DIY enthusiasts damage fixtures during repairs.
A compression sleeve puller is a perfect tool for such a repair because it removes a nut and sleeve easily. There’s no damage or effort involved, which makes it an excellent addition to any DIY plumber’s kit.
7. Allen Wrench Sets
Fancy shower handles, faucets, or fixtures often have Allen or hex screws. Modern fixtures can’t be removed with traditional tools like regular wrenches or screwdrivers. You need a set of Allen wrenches for loosening these screws.
Hex wrenches have six sides and come in various standard sizes, and a good DIY plumbing kit should have one of each size. A complete set can help you with a wide range of repairs. Many homeowners are forced to call a plumber despite having some experience with minor maintenance simply because they don’t have Allen wrenches.
Plumbing joints often rust and become tightly locked. These joints are so strong, that loosening them is impossible. In such cases, plumbers are left with no choice but to use a saw. A hacksaw can be used to remove all kinds of pipes, nuts, screws, bolts, etc. You can disassemble it and use its blade for getting into tight corners. For example, a hacksaw blade will work effectively for cutting something behind a sink.
However, these blades are short and won’t cut bigger parts easily. Professionals should handle these complicated tasks as they have sharper, more efficient tools for repairs.
9. Toilet Auger
Most homes don’t require a toilet auger, but it is an excellent addition to a DIY plumber’s kit. These tools clear stubborn clogs when a plunger is ineffective as they physically disrupt the clog, loosening all material and extracting it from a toilet. It can reach several feet into a drain, which makes the tool highly effective.
While all of these tools are useful, they won’t help you with serious plumbing issues. Call a professional if all preliminary attempts of repairing a problem don’t work.