10 Useful Tools and Materials for Plumbing Projects

  • 01 of 10

    Sink Auger

    Sink Auger (also called drum or canister auger). © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    A sink auger (also called a drum auger or canister auger) is one of the most valuable of the various special tools for plumbing you will want to have on hand. This easy-to-use tool is great for breaking up and clearing clogs in sinks and tubs.

    Don't use this tool on toilets, though. Toilets use a special tool called a closet auger or toilet auger (see the next page). 

    The sink auger consists of a flexible cable with a steel auger bit on the end. The cable is coiled within a drum canister and is...MORE extended into a drain to reach a clog and clear it.  A thumbscrew locks the cable to the canister, and as the drum is turned, the cable and auger bit also turn.

    To learn more on how to use this tool, see How To Use a Sink Auger.

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  • 02 of 10

    Toilet or Closet Auger

    Toilet Auger (also Closet Auger, Snake). © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    The toilet auger (also called closet auger or water closet auger) is a specialized plumbing tool used to clear clogs in toilets. You do not want to use a sink auger for toilet use or vice-versa, as the tools are designed for very different purposes.

    To learn more on how to use the toilet auger, see the tutorial How to Unclog a Toilet Fixture.

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  • 03 of 10

    Flange Plunger (Toilet Plunger)

    Flange or Toilet Plunger. © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    The flange plunger or ball plunger is a specially shaped plunger used to clear clogs in toilets. It works by the applications of vacuum and the force of water. The flange plunger's special shape seals the hole at the bottom of a toilet bowl, unlike a standard cup-shaped plunger which is used for sinks and tubs.

    To learn more about how to use the flange plunger, see the tutorial How to Unclog a Toilet Fixture.


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  • 04 of 10

    Cup Plunger (Sink and Tub Plunger)

    Cup Plunger is Used for Sinks and Tubs. © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    Cup Plunger
    The cup plunger is probably the most common special plumbing tool in the home. It has a rubber cup-like shape and wooden handle and is used to clear clogs in sinks, tubs, and showers. Do not use this plunger for clearing toilet clogs, because that requires a specially shaped plunger called a flange plunger (see previous page).

    To learn more about how to use the cup plunger, see the tutorial How to Unclog a Sink.


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  • 05 of 10

    Plumber's Tape

    Plumber Applying Sealant around Shower Pipe
    BanksPhotos / Getty Images

    Plumber's tape is an essential material for preventing leakage at threaded plumbing joint connections. Plumber's tape is a versatile, common, inexpensive thin white tape used to effectively seal pipe threads being joined together for plumbing purposes, such as shower heads and threaded water line connections.

    It's also used to seal air and gas from leaking through threaded connections, such as at your dryer.

    Known technically as PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene), it is silky in texture and is sold in...MORE small rolls.

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  • 06 of 10

    Adjustable Pipe Wrench

    Pipe Wrench is Used to Grip Round Pipes. © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    An adjustable pipe wrench is the quintessential metal plumbing tool. The adjustable pipe wrench is an iconic symbol of plumbing repair.

    This tool provides tremendous leverage and grip. Once you tighten the wrench around the pipe by use of the knurled knob, it is designed to grip round objects (such as pipes) securely by digging its sharp serrated teeth into the pipe with increasing pressure as the wrench is turned.

    As a result, this wrench is known for leaving teeth marks behind and is not...MORE recommended for removal of trim. If you do use it for this, wrap the serrated teeth of the tool to protect the trim finish. More preferable, however, is to use an adjustable crescent wrench for fine work on trim that is visible.

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  • 07 of 10

    Faucet Valve-Seat Wrench

    Faucet Valve Seat Wrench is Used with Compression Faucets. © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    A faucet valve-seat wrench is a simple tool used to remove the valve seats on a compression faucet so it may be replaced. 

    Compression faucets are the oldest style of faucet. They work by compressing a rubber or nylon washer on the end of a brass stem down against a valve seat in the faucet body. 

    When the washer is allowed to wear down too far, the grinding action between the washer valve seat and the faucet body valve seat can cause the faucet body valve seat to become rough, and leaks can...MORE occur. 

    When that happens, there are two options. First, you can remove the valve seat and replace it, using this valve seat wrench. This is the best option if it works. If the faucet seat is not removable, though, you must regrind it to a smooth surface using a reseating tool (see next page).

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  • 08 of 10

    Faucet Valve Reseating Tool

    Valve Reseating Tool Smooths Out the Faucet Valve Seat. © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    A faucet valve reseating tool is another tool specifically for compression faucets. The valve seat reseating tool is also called a valve seat dresser or a valve seat grinder. It is used to resurface the valve seat in the faucet body if you cannot remove the valve seat or decide not to replace it.

    To use the tool just remove the faucet valve stem. Using the largest grinding attachment that fits into the faucet, insert the seat grinder until it rests on the valve seat in the faucet body. Use only...MORE moderate pressure to turn the tool clockwise until the seat is smoothed out and burrs or rough edges are removed. Clean the valve seat with a damp cloth to remove any metal shavings. Reassemble the faucet and turn the faucet on with full pressure for a few minutes to rinse the seat clean.

    It's important not to grind too much metal off the valve seat, or the faucet may be ruined. At some point when a compression faucet continues to have problems, the best solution will be to replace it. 

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  • 09 of 10

    Faucet Packing and Washers

    Faucet Packing and Washers are Used in Compression Faucets. © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    Faucet packing and washers are yet another accessory that is essential for maintaining compression faucets, which can leak water around the handles. Newer compression faucets rely upon rubber or nylon washers or O-rings around the faucet stem while older faucet designs use a graphite or waxy coated, thick, twine-like string around the top of the stem. 

    Replacing the O-ring(s) or washer is easy--just remove and take to your hardware store to find the exact replacement.

    For faucets that use packing,...MORE just remove the old faucet packing string and any residue from the stem. Then tightly wrap the new faucet packing around the stem. Trim any remaining excess packing string and just put the faucet back together.

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  • 10 of 10

    Tubing Cutter

    Copper Tubing Cutter. © 2008 Home-Cost.com

    The tubing cutter is an essential plumbing tool if you are going to be doing any work with copper pipe. With copper pipe, it is important to have smoothly cut and squarely cut ends and well-fitted joints.

    When using a tubing cutter, hold the copper tubing and clamp the cutter around the pipe where you want it cut. Then rotate the cutter around the pipe by pulling the handle, tightening the knob slightly on each revolution to increase the cutting wheel pressure on the pipe. After making the cut,...MORE you may find some burrs in the pipe's cut edge. Remove these with a small file or de-burring tool designed for this purpose.