You can’t make repairs without some tools. You won’t need many to fix a toilet, but you will need a few. Most plumbing tools are not expensive and given a reasonable amount of care they are a lifetime investment. Your initial costs will usually be recovered with the first repair you do.
There are some single-purpose plumbing tools such as a spud wrench for installing or removing a flush valve from a toilet tank and a plunger for clearing a clogged toilet, but most of the tools you will need are used for general home repairs as well.
Some hardware stores and plumbing supply shops will loan or rent plumbing tools that you only use once in a while, but you should buy an adjustable wrench, a pair of pliers and several screwdrivers, both Phillips head and regular types, a plunger and a toilet auger. Then buy the rest as the need arises.
Bare Bones Plumbing Toolbox
In addition to the above-named tools, every household should keep an all-purpose penetrating lubricant on hand. Most plumbing parts are made of materials meant to be in contact with water and not rust, but they will collect minerals that will cement the parts together.
You will use penetrating lubricants for not just plumbing repairs but many other household problems such as squeaky doors and sticky windows. A penetrating lubricant will make many jobs much easier. On tough jobs such as separating a toilet tank from the bowl, you want to give the lubricant time to work by applying it hours before you expect to actually do the work. I have applied it the night before and re-applied it the next morning for jobs I knew were going to be stubborn.
An Expanded Tool Box
You may think you’re not up to doing your own plumbing repairs, but when something starts dripping late on a Friday night, you’ll want to be prepared to do some damage control fast. This Old House plumbing contractor Richard Trethewey suggests every homeowner should have basic plumbing tools on hand — he says, you could get everything on his list for between $100 and $150 and, as Richard says, they don’t go bad.
DIY Plumbing Toolkit
Rex Cauldwell, a third-generation electrician, and a master plumber has written widely on both subjects, most notably in Fine Homebuilding magazine and the Journal of Light Construction. Rex says, “Few things strike terror in homeowners’ hearts like plumbing has gone awry. And, conversely, few things are as satisfying as having the right tool handy when trouble strikes. You could save yourself the cost of a new floor. Likewise, if you want to extend supply pipes or install a faucet, the job will be a lot easier with a few specialized tools such as the ones on his tool list. Lastly, Rex suggests a child’s little red wagon is a handy way to transport your tools from your shop to your plumbing project—if your child isn’t using it, that is.