Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Good Tools Make Better Plumbers

Sooner or later, everyone takes a plumbing repair into their own hands. Below is a list of our favorite “can’t live without” tools that every home or business owner should have in their personal tool kit.

1. Plunger – The essential go-to tool in bathrooms, kitchens, and drains across America; it’s the icon of our trade. Plungers are available in two styles, “cup” and “phlange,” and it’s important to understand the difference. Use the phlange style for toilet clogs – the elongated bottom creates a good seal in the toilet bowl and helps ensure a good vacuum during the plunging process. Cup plungers, on the other hand, are designed for use on flat surfaces, such as a basement floor drain area. Keep both on hand and replace them every 2-3 years; the rubber (especially on cup plungers) deteriorates over time.

2. Propane Torch – An outstanding tool with many uses, propane torches are among our favorite tool. Inexpensive and without equal for removing rusted bolts (on automobile license plates, swingsets, and practically everything in the garage), lighting grills, tiki-torches, or (of course) sweating copper pipe. “Torch kits” that fit standard hand-held propane tanks are inexpensive and widely available at hardware stores. Just remember – you’re playing with fire here, so don’t burn yourself.

3. Dremel tool/rotary tool (and the attachment kits and bits) – Frankly, how any household gets by without one is beyond us. Whether you cutting into drywall, trimming floor and wall tiles to fit around drains or fittings, cutting pipes, sharpening tools, or grinding down rough edges, or just drilling holes, a rotary tool is an excellent multi-purpose choice.

4. Pipe Cutter (a.k.a. tubing cutter) – Similar to a C-clamp, tubing cutters are ideal for cutting copper or aluminum tubing (useful not only for plumbing, but also for making too-long drapery rods fit small openings. Cutters come in multiple sizes, we prefer the mini-sizes for household needs.

5. Vise-Grips (and other pliers) – A good, solid set of pliers is important when it comes to home repairs. We have two sets of Vise-grips (one large, one small), those chunky adjustable pliers that are able to be “locked on” to bolts, pipes, and other objects that require unyielding leverage during a repair job. Commonly, Vise-Grips are used in conjunction with a second set of pliers or a wrench when superior traction is needed to remove stubborn bolts. When it comes to pliers, a good set of needle nose pliers with insulated grips, as well as the standard “regular” pliers is highly recommended. Our household set includes a jewelry/crafting set of needle nose pliers – the different types of jaws (flat, rounded, offset) provide a nice array of options for most jobs.

6. Small Wire Snips/Cutter – Similar to pliers, a small wire snips are indispensable for cutting copper wire and zip ties. While not technically a “plumbing tool,” we would be lost without them.

7. Accessories (Teflon tape/O-rings/pipe dope/plumbers putty) – It’s frustrating to start a job and find that multiple trips are needed to the hardware store for the “small stuff.” Teflon tape, o-rings, and plumber’s putty are the “small stuff.” Inexpensive, yet imperative to a successful, leak-free repair. A $10 investment will like procure all three of these items and will remain in your inventory for years.

8. Screw Drivers and Allen Wrenches – Many kitchen and bath fixtures are held together with Allen screws – those small hexagonal screws that make us go “, I need an Allen wrench for this one. Who has the Allen wrench??” An Allen wrench set is similar to a Swiss Army knife – every size you need in one handy bundle

9. Pipe Wrench – Another iconic plumbing tool – this adjustable wrench is available in multiple sizes – the large, heavy sizes can be expensive and seldom fit in the toolbox. Note that that wrench teeth can quickly damage brass fittings or finishes on fixtures; use with care. Many an amateur plumber has “laid on the wrench” and ruined the fixture before they realized it. When it doubt, wrap the fixture or fitting with a thick soft towel and proceed with caution.

10. Basin Wrench – Important, but in our opinion, this tool likely falls into the “nice to have” category for most home and business owners. This tool is specifically designed to fit into the space behind a sink or lavatory and lock onto the nuts. Check out the video and draw your own conclusions about whether you’ll need one: http://plumbing.about.com/od/basics/ss/How-To-Use-A-Basin-Wrench.htm

Water You Waiting For? If tackling plumbing repairs is low on your to-do list, Allied Reddi-Rooter is available 24/7, and we bring our own tools. Call Ray today for a free estimate: 513-396-5300.