Every home, new or old has a plumbing system that will require some level of maintenance. More often than not you’ll need the skills of a plumber to maintain your plumbing system, but for some jobs it can be down to having the right tool in the toolbox. Here we have a look into a typical plumber’s hand tool kit.
Whenever carrying out any DIY task, you should always wear the appropriate safety gear. For plumbing tasks, use gloves and safety goggles at a minimum. Plumbers in particular spend a lot of time on their knees, so knee pads are a great preventative piece of kit. Even for simple jobs such as nailing, filing or investigating dark holes, it’s best to be equipped with the right gear to save problems later.
A heavy-duty pipe wrench is used to rotate plumbing pipes and fittings. The jaws are adjusted to the diameter of the pipe or nut and can clamp it directly, making the job a lot easier.
A basin wrench is a very specific plumbing tool, which is long handled and used when fitting taps. The jaw of the wrench can be flipped over into tightening or untightening mode, and is placed on the tap connector, the long handle allows it be operated at any awkward angle with a pivoting motion.
Files are used for all the little smoothing, rubbing, cleaning and shaping tasks involved in plumbing. There are many file shapes available, ranging from flat to round, half-round, triangular and square. They are an essential tool so getting a file set is necessary to have the exact file you need for the task at hand.
Typically a plumber will use three hammer types – a claw hammer for general work such as banging in nails or clawing out screws, a club hammer for lifting floorboards (with a bolster chisel) or to make holes in plaster and brickwork, and a smaller hammer such as a ball-pein, tack or pin hammer, for hitting small nails and pins, and more refined work.
When cutting pipe, it’s important to cut the ends so that they are exactly square and will fit neatly into the coupling. That’s why pipe cutters are a popular tool as they provide a consistently clean cut.
If a pipe is tight against a wall, a pipe cutter may not fit so you may have to use a fine-bladed hacksaw. The sharpness of the blade will make all the difference to how clean the cut is, so make sure you have a brand new blade on the hacksaw. And remember, measure twice, cut once!
A good pair of pliers is a useful tool in a plumber’s tool kit. Long-nosed pliers are good when working with electrics, a large pair of combination pliers are great for heavy work such as soldering and adjusting WC valves and water pump pliers are good for gripping irregularly shaped nuts and bolts. There are also many pliers designed specifically for cutting and wire stripping jobs.
In plumbing, you’ll need a good range of screwdrivers with a variety of sizes. Plumbers use everything from general purpose screwdrivers for driving in wood and masonry screws, through to electrician’s screwdrivers. Electrician screwdrivers are insulated along most of their length including the whole of the handle. Many screwdrivers have a magnetic tip which helps you to retrieve screws and nuts from otherwise inaccessible cavities.
Traditional open-ended spanners are really good tools for working on compression fittings. The size of the spanner will depend on the plumbing system. If you are working on an older system where the fittings are in imperial measurements, you’ll need a wide set of spanners to get the right one for the job. So a combination, full set of spanners is important.
A torch is actually an essential part of a plumber’s toolkit. A headlamp allows your hands to be free for working, but the most important element is having a light source is independent of the building’s electricals, which may not be accessible, safe, or provide the light direction necessary.
There are many different pipe connector shapes and joints, all providing a slightly different purpose. There are Tee shaped pipes which work as a junction, and within these alone you have reducers, valved, and off-set, then there are straight connectors, corners at varying degree angles, and ends such as taps, valves, stopcocks and draincocks. We sell a range of pipe fittings, and have a guide to common pipe fittings here.
PTFE tape is a thin, ribbon-like plastic material used to seal threaded fittings. In action, the tape is wrapped around the thread and the joint is tightened up so that the tape fills up the ‘V’ section part of the thread. An alternative is to use putty, which is soft and pliable to mould to shape, and then will harden.
Plumbing jobs sometimes require specific tools for the particular plumbing components, or the awkward angles you’ll often find yourself in. Dickie Dyer are a professional plumbing tool brand, and have specialist tools such as a inspection mirror and pick up tool set, immersion heater spanner and box immersion heated spanner.