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The Plumber’s Kit: What Tools are Inside and What Do They Do?

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You did it: you bought your first home. It’s a true milestone and deserves celebration. Walking through the newly painted hallway, though, you notice a sound. It’s that dreaded tell-tale drip . . . drip . . . drip that keeps many homeowners up at night.

When your plumbing gives you problems, call a licensed plumber to get the job done quickly or check out our Winnipeg Plumbing Service page to see if we can help. While he or she is in your home, use the opportunity to learn. That way, you can handle future small jobs on your own. One of the best learning techniques is to observe what’s inside the plumber’s tool kit. The following list will discuss the most common and useful tools you might see.


Pliers give you leverage to move and grip small objects; they also bend and shape wires and small rods. Pliers come in many forms, but needle-nose and tongue-in-groove show up in almost every plumber’s kit.
  • Needle-nose pliers cut and grip small tubing. Their narrow, pointed form gets in hard-to-reach places.
  • Tongue-in-groove pliers adjust to fit nearly any object. You need to slide its jaw and lock it in place. Plumbers frequently use this plier because of its versatility.


Files come in many shapes and sizes, but they all shape and smooth metal. Flat files are the most common, but others include half-round, round, hand, square, triangle, and needle files. Only use a file that includes a plastic or wooden handle. Unprotected files will hurt the palm of your hand.

Caulk or “Plumber’s Putty”

Plumbers use caulk as a simple, effective, and water-proof repairing tool. For example, they can stabilize a toilet by caulking its base. Caulk also works as a sealing agent; place it around the bottom of a sink, and it will adhere to the vanity. Use it to finish toilets, sinks, bathtubs, showers, and drains to keep moisture from getting into any gaps. Unwanted moisture can lead to mold and mildew buildup.


Repairs regularly take place in poorly lit areas. Flashlights allow plumbers to see those troublesome pipes underneath sinks or in basements.


Hacksaws help plumbers cut PVC pipes, wood, screws, nuts, and bolts that are too stubborn to remove by hand. Hacksaw sizes vary, though most plumbers will have a large and small version to complete different repairs.


Plumbers use many wrenches as they work. Some include open-end, box-end, socket tube, radiator, chain, Allen, and strap wrenches. Most plumbers’ kits, however, will always have pipe, adjustable, and basin wrenches.
  • Pipe wrenches adjust using a toothed jaw that tightly grips materials. They give the user leverage to loosen or tighten threaded pipes and their fittings. The jaws have ridges, so place a cloth over any painted pipe. Otherwise, the wrench could scratch the paint.
  • Adjustable wrenches handle many different jobs. Their adjustable jaw fits large or oddly-shaped fasteners.
  • Basin wrenches access hard-to-reach areas under sinks. Their long bodies can reach far into cabinets without straining the user.

Spray Bottle

A spray bottle might seem an odd addition to the list, but plumbers use it to pinpoint leaks. Combine dish soap and water into bottle, and spray it along any pipe you suspect leaks. Once you’ve covered the pipe, turn on the water. Leaking water will interact with the soap and form bubbles. Once you discover a “bubble site,” you’ve exposed the leak.


While it won’t fit into a standard-sized kit, we can’t leave the plunger off our list. A bathroom isn’t complete without its plunger. It’s likely the kit’s most commonly used tool. Plumbers rarely reach for a complicated tool first. Instead, they rely on plungers to remove stubborn clogs.

Hand Auger

A hand auger, commonly known as a plumber’s snake, is a coiled metal cable that unclogs plumbing. Plumbers generally use this if a plunger fails to remove blockage. Hand augers are specialized tools, though, so it’s best to call a plumber before you use one.

Tape Measure

You can count on plumbers to measure before they cut, install, or modify anything. The last thing you want is to try installing a pipe that doesn’t fit. Nearly every plumbing modification calls for a tape measure.

Safety Gloves, Boots, Earplugs, and Eyewear

Plumbers need to protect themselves from chemicals, germs, and other materials as they work. Therefore, cover hands, feet, ears, and eyes with protective gear at all times. Always put your safety first as you work. Mishandling tools causes personal injury and da mages your plumbing. If you have any questions about home maintenance, get in contact with a licensed plumber.
Once you understand what tools plumbers use, you can create your own kit. Remember that you should always call a licensed plumber before you begin any major repairs or renovations. However, with your own plumber’s tool kit, you can handle the everyday drips and small installations yourself.