Believe it or not, there are a lot of plumbing issues you can address by knowing about and using a few common tools that are available at your local home supply store.
Plumbing Tools #1 Plunger
Your first item should be a plunger. You may already have one of these since they’re common household tools, but you may not know that there are two types. Flange plungers are different from the simple cup plunger because they have an extra lip on them. This lip allows them to get a good seal around the bowl outlet. Flange plungers take a bit more arm strength to use, but they usually function better than a cup plunger on a stubborn toilet clog.
Tool #2 Duct Tape
Another readily available standby is duct tape. You can use this to stem smaller leaks, but you should keep in mind that it isn’t waterproof. It might last a day or two before it starts leaking so it should only be used as a temporary emergency measure until a plumber can offer a more permanent solution. You can also purchase various emergency pipe repair tapes and devices at a home store, like this clamp that will compress a rubber seal over a pinhole leak or split.
Tool #3 Plumbing Snake
Your next item is a plumber’s snake, which is also known as a drain snake or a hand auger. These are best used for clearing out clogs in your shower, sink or bathtub. All you have to do is place the cable down the drain until you feel the clog. Once you find it, pull back just a little bit and turn the crank that’s attached on your end. Repeat as necessary, and you should be able to get small hair clogs out without difficulty.
Tool #4 Basin Wrench
Item number four is a basin wrench. You won’t find this in your standard wrench set, but it’s a good tool for loosening PVC pipe fittings. The nuts that secure faucets and drains are low-profile but have a large diameter and sit on the sink’s underside in the back. That means that your normal wrenches won’t be able to either tighten or loosen them. A basin wrench has a pivoting head with a grip on it, and the head sits on a handle that’s roughly three inches long, so it can reach those nuts without getting into awkward positions.
Tool #5 Adjustable Pipe Wrench
Item number five is a more common type of wrench: the adjustable pipe wrench. Its adjustable jaws can be set to accommodate almost any size residential plumbing and is designed to grip round objects firmly. Serrations on the gripping surfaces allow the wrench to apply more pressure when tightening a pipe. The duct tape from earlier also comes in handy here because you can put it on the pipe to keep the wrench from leaving tooth marks or gouges.
Bonus tool: the caulking gun. With one of these handy, you can replace your shower or bathtub grout if it gets mold or mildew on it.
All of these tools are affordable and can fix small problems. If you have a big problem that goes beyond you confidence level, you should contact a professional plumber. And don’t worry- we don’t mind picking up where you left off when trying a DIY task. Go ahead and ask your phone, “Where can I find a plumber near me?”, and if you’re in our service area, you’ll see Henry Plumbing pop up!