Plumbing tools are a godsend when a sink clogs or toilet overflows on weekends, holidays, or just before dinner guests arrive. For big problems, like a burst pipe, shut off your water (know where your shutoff valve is) and call a plumber. But you can fix everyday annoyances if you add these basic plumbing tools to your fix-it arsenal.
1. Plungers: No home should be without these suckers/pushers whose rubber cups form a seal around the drain or toilet. Use a cup plunger to push clogs through sinks and tubs; use a flange plunger, with a non-splash ball cup, for toilets. Use a bellows plunger when the other two don’t work. Cost: Cup, $3 to $4; flange, $8 to $15; bellows, $7 to $11.
2. Closet auger: Named for “water closet,” this 3-foot plumbing tool has a crank, handle, and flexible shaft tipped with an “auger bit” that breaks and grabs troublesome toilet clogs. Cost: $10 to $20.
3. Hand auger, aka plumber’s snake: A hand-powered crank and reel of ¼-inch steel cable clears obstructions from sink, tub, and shower drains. Cost: $15 to $30.
4. Hacksaw: This go-to saw cuts through just about anything—metal pipe, hardware, nuts, or bolts. Keep blades tight in the frame, and keep extras on hand. Cost: $15 to $30. Blades: $5 for 2.
5. Adjustable pipe wrench: The serrated mouth on this iconic plumbing tool grips pipes. It has one fixed jaw and one that moves by turning a thumb screw. Buy two—one for gripping and holding, one for turning. Cost: $17 to $35.
6. Hex key or Allen wrench set: Thin L-shaped wrenches with hexagonal heads often are used to fix stuck garbage disposals. Cost: $5 to $15 for a set of 6 to 7 wrenches.
7. Caulking gun: A metal frame and trigger holds and applies caulk, which seals seams around the edges of tubs and sinks. Cost: $15 to $25.
8. Tongue-and-goove pliers: Also called water pump pliers or channel locks, these pliers with a right-angled and serrated jaw can turn, hold, twist, or loosen nuts, bolts, fittings, and frozen parts. Buy the 10-inch and 12-inch. Cost: 10-inch $10; 12-inch $10 to $14.