What Type of Tools Do Plumbers Use For Plumbing and Water Heating

If you want to know what tools you need to start a plumbing business or what tools are must-haves for homeowners, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will find an extensive list of tools and materials needed for a successful installation and repairs.

Note that the easiness of installing or repairing plumbing depends on several factors, including the type of plumbing system, the nature of the repair or installation, and the level of plumbing knowledge and experience of the person doing the work.

Plumbing tools
Tools used in plumbing (photo: pixabay)

For simple repairs such as replacing a faucet or clearing a clogged drain, it may be possible for a homeowner with basic plumbing knowledge to do the work themselves using common plumbing tools. However, more complex repairs, such as fixing a leaky pipe or installing a new water heater, should be left to a licensed plumber or plumbing professional. Attempting these types of repairs without the proper knowledge and experience can lead to further damage or even injury.

Additionally, different types of plumbing systems can be more or less difficult to work with. For example, copper piping can be more challenging to work with due to its rigidity and the need for specialized tools, while PEX piping is often considered easier to work with due to its flexibility and ease of installation.

Necessary Tools Used in Plumbing and For Installing and Repairing Water Heaters

Plumbers use a variety of tools to diagnose, repair, and install water heating systems. Here are some important tools used in plumbing that every homeowner should have for DIY tasks:

  • Pipe wrench: A wrench used to tighten or loosen threaded pipes and fittings. It is commonly used for installing or removing water heaters.
  • Basin wrench: A specialized wrench used for hard-to-reach nuts and fittings, such as those under a sink or behind a water heater.
  • Adjustable wrench: A versatile wrench that can be adjusted to fit various sizes of nuts and fittings.
  • Pliers: Used to grip and turn smaller pipes, nuts, and bolts.
  • Pipe cutter: Used to cut through pipes quickly and cleanly.
  • Propane torch: Used to solder pipes and fittings.
  • Teflon tape: Used to seal pipe threads and prevent leaks.
  • Pressure gauge: Used to measure the water pressure in the pipes and ensure that it is at the correct level for the water heater.
  • Flue brush: Used to clean the flue on a gas water heater to ensure safe and efficient operation.
  • Multimeter: Used to test electrical connections and troubleshoot problems with electric water heaters.
  • Pipe insulation: Used to insulate the pipes leading to and from the water heater to improve energy efficiency and reduce heat loss.
  • Drain pan: A pan placed under the water heater to catch any leaks or drips.
  • Element wrench: A specialized wrench used to remove and replace the heating element in an electric water heater.
  • Anode rod wrench: Used to remove and replace the sacrificial anode rod in a water heater to prevent corrosion.
  • Gas pipe and fittings: Used to connect a gas water heater to the gas supply.
  • Water supply pipes and fittings: Used to connect the water heater to the cold water supply and hot water output pipes.

It’s important to have the necessary tools and knowledge to safely and properly install a water heater. A licensed plumber or plumbing professional can assist with water heater installation and ensure that it meets all safety codes and regulations.

Plumbing Tools for Cutting

Cutting tools are essential for any plumbing job that involves cutting pipes, fittings, or other materials. Here are some common plumbing tools used for cutting:

  • Pipe cutter: A hand-held tool that uses a sharp wheel to cut through pipes quickly and cleanly.
  • Hacksaw: A manual saw with a thin, flexible blade used for cutting through metal pipes and fittings.
  • Reciprocating saw: A power saw that uses a reciprocating blade for cutting through pipes, fittings, and other materials.
  • Jigsaw: A power saw with a reciprocating blade that can cut curves and angles in pipes and fittings.
  • Hole saw: A circular saw blade used for cutting large holes in walls, floors, and pipes.
  • Tube cutter: A hand-held tool used for cutting through copper tubing.
  • Ratcheting PVC cutter: A hand-held tool that uses a ratcheting mechanism to cut through PVC pipes.
  • Bolt cutter: A heavy-duty cutting tool used for cutting through bolts, chains, and other tough materials.
  • Rotary cutter: A power tool with a rotary blade that can cut through thin metal pipes and tubing.

The specific cutting tool a plumber uses will depend on the material being cut and the job at hand. It’s essential to use the appropriate tool for the job to ensure clean and accurate cuts and to avoid future issues.

Plumber Wrenches and Where to Use Them

Wrenches are crucial tools used in plumbing, and there are different types of wrenches used for specific tasks. Here are some common wrenches used by plumbers and DIY homeowners:

  • Pipe wrench: A heavy-duty wrench used to grip and turn pipes. It has sharp teeth that grip the pipe securely without damaging it.
  • Basin wrench: A specialized wrench used for working on faucets, valves, and other fittings in tight spaces. It has a long handle and a pivoting jaw that can reach around corners.
  • Adjustable wrench: A versatile wrench that can be adjusted to fit a range of nut and bolt sizes. It has a movable jaw that can be set to the desired size.
  • Strap wrench: A wrench with a flexible strap that grips and turns pipes, filters, and other round objects without damaging them.
  • Allen wrench: A small L-shaped wrench used to tighten or loosen screws with hexagonal heads.
  • Crowfoot wrench: A specialty wrench used for tightening or loosening nuts in tight spaces. It has an open end that fits onto a ratchet or extension.
  • Combination wrench: A double-ended wrench with one open end and one closed end. It is used for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts of different sizes.
  • Torque wrench: A wrench used to apply a specific amount of torque to a nut or bolt. It is used to prevent over-tightening or under-tightening.

The specific wrench a plumber uses will depend on the task at hand. It’s essential to choose the right wrench to avoid damaging pipes or fittings and to ensure a secure and leak-free connection.

Common Pipe Fittings Used in Plumbing

Pipe fittings are used to connect and control the flow of pipes in a plumbing system. Here are some common types of pipe fittings used in plumbing:

  • Couplings: Used to connect two pipes of the same size and material.
  • Adapters: Used to connect pipes of different sizes or materials.
  • Elbows: Used to change the direction of the water flow, usually by 90 degrees or 45 degrees.
  • Tees: Used to create a branch in the plumbing system, with one inlet and two outlets or vice versa.
  • Crosses: Similar to tees, but with four outlets or inlets.
  • Unions: Used to join pipes together and allow for easy disassembly.
  • Flanges: Used to connect pipes to other equipment, such as pumps or valves.
  • Caps and plugs: Used to seal off the end of a pipe.
  • Nipples: Used to extend a pipe or connect two fittings together.
  • Valves: Used to control the flow of water in a plumbing system, including ball valves, gate valves, and globe valves.
  • Reducers and increasers: Used to connect pipes of different sizes.
  • Wyes: Similar to tees, but with a 45-degree angle for a smoother flow of water. It is shaped like the letter “Y.”
  • Bushings: Used to connect pipes of different sizes and reduce the size of a pipe’s opening.

The specific type of fitting used will depend on the plumbing system’s needs and the type of pipe being used. It’s important to use the appropriate fitting for a specific job to ensure a secure, leak-free connection.

What Are the Pipe Types Used in Plumbing?

The most common types of pipes used for plumbing are:

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes: These plastic pipes are lightweight, easy to install, and affordable. They are often used for drain, waste, and vent (DWV) systems and cold water supply lines. However, they are not suitable for hot water lines and may crack under extreme temperatures.
  • CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipes: These plastic pipes are similar to PVC pipes but are designed to handle hot water. They are often used for hot water supply lines and can handle higher temperatures than PVC pipes.
  • Copper pipes: These durable pipes are often used for hot and cold water supply lines, as well as gas lines. They are corrosion-resistant, can handle high water pressures, and are easy to install with soldering.
  • PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipes: These flexible plastic pipes are often used for water supply lines, including hot and cold water. They are easy to install with push-fit connections and can handle freezing temperatures without bursting.
  • Galvanized steel pipes: These steel pipes are coated with zinc to prevent corrosion and are often used for water supply lines and gas lines. However, they can rust over time and are more difficult to install than plastic pipes.
  • Cast iron pipes: These heavy-duty pipes are often used for DWV systems and underground drainage. They are durable and can handle high water pressure and heavy loads.

RelatedPEX vs. copper pipes- Which is better?

What Tools Are Needed for PEX Plumbing?

Here are some common tools needed for PEX plumbing:

  • PEX pipe cutter: A specialized cutter designed to cut PEX pipes cleanly and precisely.
  • Crimping tool: A tool used to crimp copper rings or stainless steel clamps onto the PEX fittings to create a secure connection.
  • Decrimping tool: Used to remove crimp rings if a mistake is made during installation.
  • Expansion tool: An alternative to crimping, this tool expands the PEX pipe to allow a secure connection with fittings.
  • Deburring tool: Used to remove any rough edges or burrs on the inside of the PEX pipe after cutting to ensure a smooth flow of water.
  • Bend support tool: Used to prevent kinks in the PEX pipe when bending it around corners or obstacles.
  • PEX pipe reamer: Used to enlarge the inside of the PEX pipe and ensure a smooth, clean fit for the fittings.
  • PEX manifold: A specialized manifold designed for PEX plumbing systems that can control and distribute the flow of water to different parts of the house.
  • PEX crimp rings or stainless steel clamps: Used to create a secure connection between PEX pipes and fittings.
  • PEX fittings: A variety of fittings designed to connect PEX pipes together, including couplings, elbows, tees, and more.

It’s important to use the correct tools and fittings for a PEX plumbing project to ensure a safe and leak-free installation. 

Materials and Tools Needed to Repair Pipes

When it comes to repairing pipes, the tools and materials needed will depend on the type of pipe and the damage. Here are some common materials used for pipe repair:

  • Adjustable wrench: Used to tighten or loosen fittings and pipe connections.
  • Propane torch: Used to solder/re-solder pipes and fittings.
  • Leak detection equipment: Used to locate hidden leaks in pipes and fittings.
  • Pipe repair clamp: These clamps wrap around the pipe and tighten with screws to create a tight seal. They are great as a temporary solution for leaks due to cracks in pipes.
  • Epoxy putty: Used to seal leaks or cracks in pipes. This putty can be molded to the shape of the pipe and hardens to create a strong, watertight seal.
  • Pipe wrap tape: Used to seal leaks or cracks in pipes. This tape is wrapped around the pipe and bonds to itself to create a tight seal.
  • Rubber couplings: These couplings fit over the damaged section of the pipe and are tightened with hose clamps to create a tight seal.
  • Plumber’s tape: Used to seal pipe threads and prevent leaks.

Plumbing Safety Tools

Plumbing safety is an essential aspect of any plumbing job, and there are specific tools that plumbers use to ensure their safety while working. Here are some safety tools used in plumbing:

  • Safety goggles: Protect the eyes from debris, chemicals, and other hazards.
  • Hard hat: Protects the head from falling objects or head injuries in tight spaces.
  • Respirator: Protects the lungs from inhaling harmful chemicals and dust.
  • Gloves: Protect the hands from cuts, scrapes, and chemicals.
  • Steel-toed boots: Protect the feet from heavy objects and hazards.
  • Earplugs or ear muffs: Protect the ears from loud noises.
  • Dust mask: Protects the lungs from inhaling dust and debris.
  • Fall protection equipment: Such as harnesses and safety lines, when working at heights.
  • First aid kit: Contains essential supplies to treat minor injuries and wounds.
  • Fire extinguisher: Used to extinguish fires in case of emergencies.


When attempting a DIY plumbing repair, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of your own plumbing knowledge, experience, and necessary tools.

Yes, DIY plumbing tasks can save you money and give you a sense of accomplishment, but it’s important to approach them with caution.

For more complex projects, it’s best to consult with a licensed plumber or plumbing professional to ensure that the work is done safely and correctly.

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