Sprung a leak? Toilet overflowing? With a little bit of plumbing knowledge and these basic tools, you can keep things under control until a professional plumber gets there. Make sure your toolbox is stocked with these essentials:
While a plunger is generally used to de-clog toilets, it can also be used to clear sink drains and showers. A plunger should be used to suction clogged material out of the drain. By creating a tight seal around the offending drain and pulling upward, the plunger effectively sucks out any debris. You can purchase any old plunger for less than five dollars, but consider investing in a sturdier model such as this one from SimpleHuman.com. Cheap, poorly constructed plungers break easily.
Also called a toilet auger, plumbers feed these devices into the toilet or drain to “snake” out tough clogs that are beyond a plunger’s reach. A toilet snake looks like a pole with a flexible shaft attached at one end and a crank at the other. When inserted into the drain, the flexible shaft will help pull out any clogs or break them apart to clear the obstruction.PlumbingSupply.com offers a variety of toilet snakes, from an inexpensive handheld mini-auger ($9.31) to a six-foot model ($54.85).
While a professional plumber would not use Teflon tape to fix a leak, a plumbing novice can for a temporary fix. Taping a leaking pipe can help prevent dangerous puddles and keep your bathroom floor from flooding overnight. A few layers of Teflon tape applied to the offending pipe will keep things dry until you are able to contact your plumber.
Many minor leaks and dripping faucets can be fixed by replacing the rubber seal (or o-ring) around the fixture. Simply remove the old o-ring and replace it with a new one. Visit AppleRubber.com for help determining the size you need.
Adjustable Pipe Wrench
When shower heads and other fixtures become loose, they create leaks. An adjustable pipe wrench will tighten loose nuts and bolts, and can be used to replace worn or broken fixtures. When the time comes to dismantle a fixture or tank, you’ll be glad to have a pair of these in your toolbox. Look for a high-quality model such as the quick adjusting pipe wrench fromIrwin.
Working with wet pipes and fixtures gets slippery. Keep your hands clean and dry with a pair of sturdy gloves to prevent you from losing your grip (and possibly hurting yourself or breaking something). Regular dish-washing gloves will work, but a pair of plumber’s gloves is better. Harbor Freight Tools has regular plumber’s gloves and long-cuffed options designed to keep water out.