Knowing your available options helps you make the best use of plumbing tools and equipment. This quick look at the most common pieces in the toolkit can help you understand how plumbing tools are helpful and how to use them. Below, we'll look at personal protective equipment, plungers, wrenches, and other tools that are most commonly used.
Personal Protective Equipment
Plumbing can involve contact with contaminated substances and strong cleaning agents designed to combat them. Both can cause physical harm, especially by causing illness or direct damage to soft tissues. Goggles keep the bacteria in splashes from reaching the soft tissues inside of the eyes where they can wreak havoc. A face mask keeps those same splashes from reaching the mouth or nose, and it limits the number of aerosolized agents that are inhaled while cleaning. Both cleanable and disposable gloves stop transferring the contaminants between anything touched if steps are taken to remove and wash them after touching the gross.
The plunger might be the most iconic tool in a plumber's kit. When considering the best use of plumbing tools and equipment, the simplicity and effectiveness of plungers have made them ubiquitous throughout societies with plumbing. Because the plunger has been in use for such a long time, there are plenty of specialized forms. The basic operation is pushing the pliable cup to the opening, forming a seal that pushes the air into the pipe, then pulling back to dislodge anything inside the pipe.
The simple cup plunger is the first one that comes to mind, as most of us keep one in the bathroom. Although it ends up there, the cup plunger is not really meant for toilets. The simple shape works well with the drains in tubs and sinks, though. For toilets, a plumber is more likely to use a flange plunger. It has an easier time forming a seal around toilet openings, creating a stronger pull on any gunk stuck inside the pipe.
Wrenches and Pliers
Although a full tool kit is handy in many trades, plumbers make the most frequent use of a variety of wrenches and pliers. While each is different, they all work by gripping around something so it can be turned.
Pipe wrenches are strongly associated with plumbers to the degree that they are also called plumber's wrenches. It goes around curved pipe fittings and clamps down with the teeth in its jaw, loosening and tightening them as needed. A single adjustable pipe wrench can be the only tool a plumber needs throughout a whole project.
While handy, the pipe wrench is typically used for larger pipes. When you get into the typical work done under a kitchen or bathroom sink, a pair of slip-joint or groove joint pliers tend to be easier to use. They have a lower profile for slipping into tight spots before finding a grip around awkward and slippery fittings without a precise measurement. A pair of locking pliers can do the same job in a pinch, but the locking feature isn't always necessary and can cause damage to more delicate metals and plastics. They're a bit more advanced of a tool, but a basin wrench can also be useful to keep at home for getting into the deep portions of the sink plumbing.
The technical term for the drain snake is an auger, but both terms will be understood by a plumber. Manually operated snakes look like either a long stick with a crank at one end or a pistol grip with a cylinder that holds the length of the snake. The end is pushed into the pipe, twisting and advancing until it hooks into lodged debris. With a tug, it's pulled back out of the pipe. They can be a bit tricky to use, since you have to force it through pipe bends and twist it into the debris, and it's usually done by feel. Professional models can have powered components and electronic additions that power the auger through longer pipes and tougher clogs, but it's something the average person would rent instead of buying.
A Helpful Hand
Having a knowledgeable plumber that you can ask questions and observe while they tackle a hard job is how most discover the best use of plumbing tools and equipment. Mitchell Plumbing & Gas has the knowledge and equipment needed to tackle any household plumbing issue, and we're happy to pass along a little knowledge while doing so.
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