We recently posted a blog with steps homeowners should take in the event of a plumbing emergency. And then it hit me, shouldn’t homeowners have a list of items that may be beneficial during that plumbing emergency? So, I sat down with our master plumber to put together a list of the top 5 things all homeowners should have at their disposal. Being prepared could be the difference between a minor inconvenience or long lasting, expensive repairs and restoration. Don’t worry, it’s not expensive tools that you would need training for or anything like that. In fact some things you properly already have lying around your home.
Let’s begin, shall we?
A plunger is the most basic of plumbing tools, if you could even call it a tool? There are two main styles of plungers that all homeowners should have. We recommend having at least one of both of these plungers readily available in every home. If used properly you could potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars on not only plumbing repairs but restoration and clean up as well.
There’s the cup plunger that should be used on sinks and tubs. This is the most commonly purchased and thought of plunger. They usually come with a wooden handle and a red rubber cup on the end. They should only be used on drains that rest on a flat surface to get ample suction such as sinks and tubs.
Then there is the flange plunger that should be used on toilets. They usually come with wooden handles and a black rubber cup with a flange attached to the bottom. The addition of the flange makes it possible to make a good seal and suction on a curved surface like your toilet bowl. We recommend homeowners have a flange plunger in each bathroom of their home. You would be amazed how quickly a toilet can go from stopped up to overflowing!
What is duct tape not good for, really? Not sure how to fix something? Just throw some duct tape on it! Seriously though, all homeowners should have a good quality roll of duct tape on hand for all types of emergency quick fixes. Duct tape is not only extremely durable but also water-resistant which makes it capable of creating a seal blocking some small leaks until you or a plumber are able to permanently repair it.
We do recommend springing for a good quality duck tape that will hold up under some pressure. While duct tape comes in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and quality, any heavy duty multi-purpose duct tape should do just fine in most home projects.
I know what you may be thinking… A pipe wrench? For what and why?
A pipe wrench is used when something needs to be tightened or loosened but is too difficult to grip with other tools. Pipe wrenchs come with a metal handle and a serrated jaw that allows it be adjusted to fit almost any size pipe. Any homeowner who is DYI inclined should have one on hand for a wide verity of projects to ensure a good tight fit.
There are several types of pipe wrenchs, but don’t feel daunted. They come in varies sizes, shapes, and metals. For homeowners we suggest just a basic 14″ aluminum straight pipe wrench (pictured), they are your go-to all around basic pipe wrench. You’ll find that they come in a wide range of pricing, as well, we suggest something middle ground between $15.00 and $30.00. When used correctly, they should last you an extremely long time so you don’t have to worry about replacing it again anytime soon or even ever, for that matter.
This wrench, often called a crescent wrench, is yet another tool that all homeowners should have at their disposal. When anyone pictures a wrench this is the one! They are multi-use and -functional wrenchs capable of tightening or loosening most all variety of nuts and bolts. Like the pipe wrench they are adjustable to be able to fit many different sizes. Unlike the pipe wrench the jaw is not serrated, they are smooth so they do not scar the nut or bolt you are loosening or tightening.
You can purchase a set of adjustable wrenchs at any hardware store and generally cost less than $20.00. In most cases an 8″ adjustable wrench should work but it is a good idea to have a set of wrenches that include a 6″ and 10″ wrench, as well. This is the one tool that you will probably use for so many other projects besides plumbing related ones.
A toilet auger, commonly referred to as a closet auger, is an inexpensive manual snake used specifically on toilet backups. They should be used when the plunger isn’t clearing the blockage or you know that there is something stuck inside your toilet like a rag, small toy, or feminine products. The auger will have a long metal tube with a handle on end and a bend at the other with a cable coming out of the bending end. The cable should have a corkscrew or coil like tip attached to the end of the cable. This tip is able to thread through, entangling the obstruction allowing you to pull it back up and out of the toilet.
I get it, no one wants to go rooting around in the backed up toilet but if you have small children in your home you could save so much on plumbing service calls. I cannot begin to tell you how many times we have pulled small toys out of toilets! The auger should come with specific instructions for use but the internet has a plethora of videos that demonstrate proper use. Again, any of your local hardware stores should carry toilet augers. Most plumbers will use a hand auger similar to the one pictured. They generally run between $30.00 – $40.00 and last years if used properly.
As with all DIY repair projects, be sure you are comfortable and capable of making the repair you are attempting. All too often homeowners find themselves in far worse shape then they were in from the beginning. If you are able to handle smaller plumbing repairs you could potentially be saving hundred of dollars and loads of time waiting on the technician. Find yourself with a project that you cannot handle? R. A. Styron can handle any project, big or small. With over 60 years of experience and a full plumbing department we are sure to have not only the expertise but the right tools to handle it for you.