5 Vital Plumbing Tools and Materials for All Homeowners

Posted on: 12 December 2017

Plumbing problems, while preventable, will eventually come around if you live in a place long enough. You could have a leaking tap, burst pipes, a clogged sink, drain or toilet or a dripping faucet. Sometimes the problem can wait for your plumber's appointment, but emergencies need immediate attention to mitigate damage before he/she arrives. The only way you'll be able to do that is if you have the right tools and materials at hand. This article discusses five things you should always have in your house in case there's a plumbing problem.

1. Plunger

This is an absolute must-have for every home; ideally, you should have at least two plungers – for bathroom and kitchen use. Plungers are handy for dislodging minor clogs in drain, tubs, sinks and toilets. You can use a regular plunger for blocked toilets, although it's advisable to buy a flange plunger which is large enough to cover the bowl opening.

2. Plumber's tape

Plumber's tape is readily available at home improvement stores and is commonly called Teflon tape (misnomer, as it isn't made of Teflon materials but rather with PTFE - Polytetrafluoroethylene). It is useful to prevent leaks in threaded plumbing connections. It is sold in a small roll and has a silky texture. You can use this tape to seal minor leaks in piping as you wait for a plumber.

3. Hand augers

A hand auger, also called a plumber's snake, is also ideal for clearing obstructions in sinks, showers or drain lines. It's the next tool in your arsenal if a plunger fails. There are sink and toilet augers, and the former shouldn't be used in toilets. The auger is made such that you can turn the cable and snake it through bends in pipes to pull out clogs. Toilet augers are larger than sink augers, with a tougher steel cable made to grind through stubborn toilet clogs. They are bent to reach past the toilet bowl into the pipe beyond.

4. Tongue-and-groove pliers

Channel-Locks is the common brand name for these pliers, which are ideal for pulling, grabbing, twisting, loosening or tightening in plumbing repairs. They differ from regular pliers in that they have longer adjustment sections making it easier to grip pipes of different sizes. It also has a longer handle which provide better grip – excellent for an amateur conducting first-aid on a leaky pipe for instance.

5. Hacksaw

Hacksaws are versatile tools that can cut through plastic and metal piping, bolts, nuts and screws. When buying, go for a saw with a tense blade properly held in the frame, and buy a few extra blades in case of breaks when you're working. You can wrap a piece of cloth around the frame, creating a more comfortable handle for you.

Bonus tip

When faced with a plumbing emergency, be sure to contact a certified plumber to tell you what you can do before they get there. If you're not absolutely confident in your ability to do what they advise, it's best to leave everything alone until a professional gets there.