Grainger Editorial Staff
Having a few plumbing tools on hand is essential. Chances are you will face a situation or emergency that requires a plumbing tool like a wrench, auger or other specialty tools. These tools can help fix minor problems like clogged drains to more complex issues like leaks or cracks in pipes.
The following supplies are important to keep in mind when putting your plumbing emergency kit together.
A readily available plunger can be extremely useful when dealing with an overflowing toilet or waiting for a plumber to arrive. Keeping a few extra plungers on hand can be helpful for quickly unclogging sinks and garbage disposals in addition to showers and drains. Make sure the plungers are the right size to create a tight seal over the drain to give you enough suction to clear a clog.
Designed to fit seamlessly into clogged drains, augers — also sometimes called plumbing snakes — can remove debris without harming any surrounding material. Drain cleaning augers feature a corkscrew end fitted to a flexible cord to make it easy to maneuver around difficult clogs and blockages to allow water to flow freely through a drainpipe. A standard auger works well for drains and sinks, but toilet clogs require something more.
When it comes to plumbing systems, natural wear and tear are expected. Eventually, nuts, bolts and pipes can become old and damaged to the point they can’t be closed or clamped, requiring repairs or replacements. This is when a pipe wrench comes in handy since they were specifically designed to help turn hex nuts that have become too rounded or smooth to grip over time. Pipe wrenches have strong, adjustable jaws for turning iron pipes, but you should be cautious when using them on PVC to avoid cracking the plastic pipe. They have smooth or serrated jaws depending on grip requirements.
Plumbers often need several different wrenches to remove fittings due to varying pipe sizes. Adjustable wrenches feature jaws that can tightly grip various fastener sizes and are used to tighten or loosen bolts, nuts and other fasteners. Wrench sets provide different capacities and lengths to fit a variety of fasteners.
A basin wrench, or a sink wrench, features a long handle that makes it easy to reach pipes in tight, small places. The head of a basin wrench is designed for easy gripping, making it easy to turn even if you can’t be in an ideal position to reach a leak.
Hacksaws are used to cut new pieces of pipe to the correct size when replacing old or damaged PVC pipe. Hacksaws use a thin blade to make straight, precise cuts on pipe and tubing. Depending on the blade, they can cut through metal, plastic or wood. Adjustable and miniature hacksaws are available for help making cuts in tight spaces.
Hand pipe cutters are used to cut metal pipes to avoid crimping. Hand tube cutters can easily make clean, level cuts through materials like PVC, nylon and polyethylene.
Tongue and groove pliers have a wide jaw for turning nuts, bolts and fittings of different sizes, making them an essential tool for any emergency plumbing kit. Also known as multi-grips and groove-joint pliers, their jaws lock into place and remain parallel to grip, which gives the user more leverage. Plus, if you’re dealing with a leaky pipe, you can also use pliers as a makeshift clamp until a plumber arrives.
Screwdrivers come in many different shapes and sizes to fit various sizes of screws, nuts and bolts. Screwdriver sets ensure you’ll always have the right tool for the job; however, you can also choose a multi-bit screwdriver instead of a full set. These have a removable shank and interchangeable tips so that you can customize them for the needs of every repair.
The lighting under sinks and appliances is virtually non-existent, so it's important to have a flashlight in your emergency plumbing kit. Hands-free flashlights or headlamps can make working in tight spaces easier and help you avoid holding a flashlight while working on repairs.
In addition to keeping these essential tools on hand, it’s also a good idea to create a basic kit of fittings, valves, sealants and other supplies for emergency plumbing repairs.
Since pipes in most residential buildings are generally either half-inch or three-quarter-inch, experts recommend setting aside a few of the following fittings in those sizes and placing them in your emergency kit:
Pipe sealants are liquid or putty mixtures applied to threaded pipe, refrigerant systems and more to make watertight or airtight seals. Sealants can also help to prevent contamination in addition to preventing leaks. Pipe sealant tape is a waterproof film that thinly wraps around pipes to help ensure a leakproof seal. Also known as plumber’s tape, PTFE tape and thread seal tape, pipe sealant tape is useful for many tasks ranging from installing plumbing fixtures to connecting gas lines.
Remember, while it’s always a good idea to have plumbing tools and supplies handy, if you’re experiencing a plumbing emergency or require frequent repairs, it’s best to consult a professional plumber.
View more emergency preparedness tips and plumbing supplies to help keep your facility running smoothly.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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