Plumbing is an often complex trade that calls for several different tools and no small amount of technical expertise. The need for pipe wrenches, pliers and plungers goes without saying; these have always been included in plumbing toolkits, and the basics of plumbing haven’t changed all that much over the years. However, technology marches on, and there are now gadgets that go beyond what is in a plumber’s tool box that are useful for anybody (including plumbers) in the home-improvement trade. There are just a few of the more notable ones.
Sharkbites are connectors available in copper, PVC and PEX tubing that function much like a Legos. They work as a push-and-connect system that can be used to instantly repair leaks and failing connectors. They are easy to use even for a plumbing novice, and they are surprisingly long-lasting. A plumber should have a decent assortment of these connectors on hand to fix simple plumbing problems. They are affordable and greatly reduce the time of most plumbing jobs.
Bend Measuring Guides or Cloth Tape
It’s important to know the exact measurement of a curved pipe to perform a high-quality plumbing job, but most tape measurers are unable to help you determine the dimensions of curved pipes. Even the best plumbers have found themselves guessing the correct dimensions of curved pipes, sometimes with disastrous results. The best solution for measuring curved pipes is to use a bend measuring guide, but if you don’t have one available, you can always use a cloth tape. This can be picked up at just about any craft store in a number of sizes and materials. If you plan to use one for plumbing purposes, consider buying a vinyl cloth tape: it’s waterproof and will last you for some time. This isn’t something that people think about when it comes to plumbing toolkits, but having it on hand is common sense.
A Good Plumbing Snake
Plumbing snakes have always been a part of a plumber’s collection of tools (and for good reason). Also known as a “hand auger,” a snake is made from flexible steel cable that can move easily down most drains to break apart clogs and remove debris. As with many other types of plumbing tools, there are several different snakes available. Some are automatic, while others are controlled manually. There’s not much of a difference between automatic and manual snakes as far as performance goes; that comes down to personal preference. Most plumbers agree that screw and cutting head snakes are the best for tackling most clogged drains.
Plumbing snakes can be fairly long, and they need to be able to take care of really bad plumbing problems. However, many plumbers like to have mini-snakes in case they across smaller clogs. These are useful for taking care of clogged sinks or other problems that may not require 25 feet of steel cable. In fact, even homeowners who don’t normally handle their own plumbing problems should invest in a mini-snake to fix the occasional clogged bathroom or kitchen sink.
These are just a few of the tools every plumber should have on-hand, in addition to his standard arsenal of supplies. Hopefully, as technology progresses further, unclogging a drain or performing even a complicated repair will become easier and easier!
Phillip MacArthur is a freelance writer based in Omaha, Nebraska. Phillip is fascinated with the history of plumbing and is always looking for more information on the subject; curious readers also yearning to learn more should visit Southern Plumbing.