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Most Common Plumbing Tools

Learn about the most common plumbing tools needed for home repair from Master Plumber John Wood in this Howcast video.


OK, folks. I'm going to go over, for a few minutes, what some of the most common plumbing tools are. On my left here, I have channel locks. Also, in other parts of the country, referred to as pumps, for some reason. I think it was because they had used them on water pumps, in the past. I call them channel locks.

They're called channel locks, because, they have steel channels. You can adjust the jaws, like so. These particular ones here are kind of neat, because, they have no teeth on them. OK. No teeth, at all.

When you're putting them on a flushometer, or, anything with chrome, a flat sided nut, you don't want to use channel locks like this, with teeth. They'll destroy the chrome finish. Also, you can get up into a larger set and, they do make them even larger than these guys, here.

The difference being -- when you're exacting leverage on a pipe, or a fitting that you're turning -- the longer the handles and bigger the jaws, the more traction you'll get, the more force you'll get, to break the seal on that nut, or whatever you're turning.

These are some of our most common tools, channel lock. The next tool up in our arsenal, is a foreign one. This is as ubiquitous as it gets, in pretty much any industry. It comes with two head, a flat and a phillips.

Both pull out, and you can switch the sides for larger or smaller. Same thing on the flat. As you can see, this is for a larger, flat-head screw. That's for a smaller one.

A great tool to have in the arsenal is a hacksaw. Try not to buy the cheap ones, because, you can slip, they can bend, and you can cut yourself pretty badly. I know, because, I've done it. This is a Lennox hacksaw. This is the cream of the crop as far as I'm concerned.

The blade...also, my opinion is that, you never change the hacksaw blade. That's because, as the teeth get worn down, it's easier to cut through whatever you're cutting. If the teeth are really sharp, and really new, they'll grab.

So, it takes a little technique, but, once you wear that blade down...this one's not...this blade is still pretty new. But, the more metal pipe you cut with this, the finer it will get, and you'll sail through. I'm not a really big fan of changing blades out all that much.

This is a mini-hacksaw. These come in really handy, for example, when you put a toilet in. We have the bolts coming up from the foot of the toilet and they're raw, brass bolts. You have to trim them off.

You could do it with this, if you wanted to have a hard time and probably say a few swear words. But, this one, you can get in there and get a stroke to it without reinventing the wheel.

You'll see this one, this blade here as compared to this hacksaw blade, is much more worn down. I've cut many hundreds of bolts, if not thousands of bolts, with this one blade.

The next up, an absolute must, or you, pretty much, cannot get the job done. This is called a basin wrench. Rigid is the gold standard, Rigid, the manufacturer of these tools.

They're the gold standard in plumbing tools. I think, you'd probably get laughed off a job if you were a plumber and showed up with any other kind of tool than a Rigid tool. It's just what we've been using for, probably, 200 hundred years now.

This is an adjustable, telescopic wrench. It serves one purpose. As you can see, you can lower this down. Imagine me laying on my back under a sink. This gets me up between the space of the sink and the cabinet, usually. As you can see, that jaw is springloaded. It'll close on the nut that holds faucets down.

The reason they call it a basin wrench is, because, in the old days sinks were called basins. They still are, in some cases. You can telescope this out to a, fairly long length. The idea is, that you lay on your back, get up around, if my finger is the nut, you can get up around that nut. Then, you can turn it.

Next up are your box wrenches, or open-end wrenches. I only keep a few sizes handy. I have all of them on the truck, but the most common sizes that I use are five-eighths, seven sixteenths, and a five-sixteenth. That's because, these are some of the most common bolt heads that you'll find in the plumbing world.

Your Johnny bolts, again, they'll hold a toilet down. Circulator nuts and bolts on your boiler or water heater, they're five-eighths. They're very common and they're a little bit more precision. Again, you're not going to be ripping up a bolt on a piece of machinery with these jarred pliers. You're going to use a nice, smooth, jarred box wrench.

Or, you can use this side, which grabs on, kind of like a star, it grabs on all sides of the nut, and turns it evenly. Again, this is for the purpose of not tearing up machinery, it's just not professional.

Similar to the box wrench is, the crescent wrench, or the adjustable wrench. Crescent was the manufacturer, is still the manufacturer of these wrenches, but a number of other companies make them, as well. Everyone's seen one, there's a little wheel that you can adjust the jaw with.

Again, why wouldn't I use channel locks? They're easier. A lot of plumbers will use channel locks. I'm not a big fan of it, because, it tears up the shape of the nut.

Plumbers use a number of different torches. On my truck, I have what's called an MC tank, which is a steel tank, and a much larger, B tank. These are considered hazmats and, usually, are only in the possession of licensed professionals like myself.

At home, you can buy these. You've probably seen them at the Home Depot or Loew's, wherever you shop for home goods. This is a map gas tank. This a very common, small use, when you're done with it you can throw the tank away. It's map gas, it's a type of gas that is used for soddering.

And those are some of our most common plumbing tools.

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