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Plumbing Tools

Plumbing work generally requires specialized tools that go beyond the hammer, screwdriver, and pliers found in most do-it-yourselfers' tool kits. Wrenches, pipe vises, reamers, and pipe cutters are just some of the specialized tools you may need to complete your projects.

Wrenches come in two types - fixed and adjustable. Fixed wrenches have one size jaw opening while adjustable wrenches open and close to fit several different sizes. Pipe wrenches or Stillson wrenches are used to grasp pipe and other curved surfaces. If you are replacing a faucet, a basin wrench is very helpful. The grabbing end pivots on the top of a rigid bar, allowing you to tighten nuts in the narrow space beneath a sink where regular pliers can't achieve adequate grasp. Other types of wrenches include hex wrenches, end wrenches, strap wrenches, and spud wrenches - and each has types of applications that they should be used for. Pipe vises are used to hold pipe in place during cutting, threading, or reaming. There are two types of pipe vises - yoke and chain. Yoke vises have V shaped jaws that grip pipe from above and below. Chain vises are smaller and use chain to fasten the pipe in place.

Often, do-it-yourselfers use a hacksaw to cut pipe - even though it's almost impossible to make a clean, straight cut. Pipe cutters will deliver a faster, cleaner cut. Most cutters have a single cutting wheel and two rollers that make smooth right-angle cuts. And all cutters are sized for varying pipe diameters.

Once a pipe is cut, both the inside and outside edges retain burrs. Burrs need to be removed because, once they get into the plumbing system, they may cause damage to valves and faucets. To remove them from the outside of the pipe, you can use a flat file. But removing the burrs on the inside requires the use of a reamer. Reamers, in addition to removing the burrs, will also smooth the inside edge of the pipe.

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