What 5 tools are most common in plumbing?

Plumbing is an essential trade that ensures the smooth operation of water supply and drainage systems in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. To perform their tasks efficiently, plumbers rely on a variety of specialized tools. This article will explore the five most common tools in plumbing, explaining their functions and why they are indispensable in the profession.

1. Pipe Wrench

Description and Function

The pipe wrench is one of the most iconic tools associated with plumbing. It is a heavy-duty adjustable wrench designed to grip and turn pipes and pipe fittings.

  • Construction: Typically made of cast iron, a pipe wrench has serrated jaws that dig into the pipe for a secure grip. The adjustable jaw can be moved to fit different pipe sizes.
  • Types: There are two main types of pipe wrenches: the straight pipe wrench, used for general purposes, and the offset pipe wrench, which is designed for working in tight spaces or at awkward angles.


Pipe wrenches are essential for loosening and tightening pipes and fittings, particularly when working with metal pipes like galvanized steel or iron.

  • Applications: Commonly used in the assembly and disassembly of pipe joints, plumbing repairs, and maintenance tasks.
  • Advantages: The strong grip provided by the serrated jaws makes it effective for working with stubborn or rusted pipes.

Maintenance Tips

To ensure longevity and performance:

  • Clean Regularly: Remove debris and dirt from the jaws to maintain a good grip.
  • Lubricate: Keep the adjustment mechanism well-lubricated to ensure smooth operation.
  • Inspect for Wear: Regularly check the jaws for wear and replace if necessary to avoid slipping.

2. Pipe Cutter

Description and Function

A pipe cutter is a specialized tool designed to cut through pipes cleanly and accurately. Unlike saws, pipe cutters provide a smooth, even cut.

  • Construction: Pipe cutters have a sharp cutting wheel and an adjustable mechanism to accommodate various pipe sizes.
  • Types: There are manual pipe cutters, which are operated by hand, and ratcheting pipe cutters, which use a ratcheting mechanism to make cutting easier.


Pipe cutters are essential for cutting pipes to the desired length and for removing damaged sections of pipe.

  • Applications: Used on various types of pipes, including copper, plastic (PVC, CPVC), and sometimes steel.
  • Advantages: Provides a cleaner and more precise cut compared to hacksaws, reducing the need for deburring and making fitting easier.

Maintenance Tips

To ensure optimal performance:

  • Sharpen the Cutting Wheel: Regularly sharpen or replace the cutting wheel to maintain clean cuts.
  • Clean After Use: Remove any residue or debris from the cutter to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation.
  • Lubricate: Keep the moving parts of the cutter lubricated to extend its lifespan.

3. Plunger

Description and Function

The plunger is a simple yet highly effective tool for clearing blockages in drains and toilets.

  • Construction: A plunger consists of a rubber cup attached to a wooden or plastic handle. Some plungers have an additional flange (a fold-out rubber extension) for better sealing in toilets.
  • Types: There are two main types: the cup plunger (flat-bottomed, used for sinks and tubs) and the flange plunger (with an additional flange, used for toilets).


Plungers are used to clear blockages by creating a vacuum that dislodges the obstruction.

  • Applications: Ideal for clearing minor clogs in toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs.
  • Advantages: Simple to use, requires no chemicals, and can resolve many blockages without the need for professional intervention.

Maintenance Tips

To keep your plunger in good condition:

  • Clean After Use: Rinse the plunger with clean water and disinfect if used in a toilet.
  • Store Properly: Store the plunger in a dry place to prevent the rubber from deteriorating.
  • Inspect Regularly: Check the rubber for cracks or signs of wear and replace if necessary.

4. Adjustable Wrench

Description and Function

The adjustable wrench, also known as a crescent wrench, is a versatile tool used to grip and turn nuts and bolts.

  • Construction: It has a movable jaw that can be adjusted to fit various sizes of fasteners.
  • Types: Standard adjustable wrenches are commonly used, but there are also specialized versions like wide-jaw adjustable wrenches for larger nuts and bolts.


Adjustable wrenches are essential for plumbing tasks that involve fastening or loosening bolts, nuts, and other fittings.

  • Applications: Commonly used in the installation and maintenance of faucets, valves, and other plumbing fixtures.
  • Advantages: The adjustable jaw allows for use with a wide range of fastener sizes, making it a versatile tool for various tasks.

Maintenance Tips

To ensure effective use:

  • Clean Regularly: Keep the wrench clean and free of debris.
  • Lubricate the Adjustment Mechanism: Regular lubrication ensures smooth jaw movement.
  • Inspect for Wear: Check the jaws for wear or damage and replace if necessary to maintain a secure grip.

5. Plumber’s Tape (Teflon Tape)

Description and Function

Plumber’s tape, also known as Teflon tape, is a thin white tape used to seal threaded pipe joints and prevent leaks.

  • Construction: Made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the tape is flexible and can be stretched to fit snugly around threads.
  • Types: Standard plumber’s tape for general use and specialized tapes (e.g., gas line tape) for specific applications.


Plumber’s tape is essential for creating watertight seals on threaded connections.

  • Applications: Used on pipe threads, showerheads, faucets, and other fittings to prevent leaks.
  • Advantages: Easy to use, inexpensive, and highly effective at preventing leaks.

Maintenance Tips

While plumber’s tape itself requires minimal maintenance, proper application is key:

  • Wrap Correctly: Always wrap the tape in the direction of the threads (usually clockwise) to ensure a tight seal.
  • Use Multiple Layers: Apply several layers of tape (usually three to five) to ensure a secure seal.
  • Inspect Joints: Regularly check threaded joints for leaks and reapply tape if necessary.

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