Basic Plumbing Tools Every DIYer Should Have in Their “Tool Bucket”

Even the bucket will come in handy if there’s a leak.

Plumbing “projects” often present themselves when you least expect them, and if you plan to do them yourself, you may need to act fast, which means being prepared with the right tools. You’ll need the same tools for planned DIY projects, too.

In addition to the typical household tools — screwdrivers, hammer, hacksaw, etc. — here are seven to have on hand. Put them in a 5-gallon plastic bucket and you’ll have what you need including a container to catch draining water.

Plunger. The tool that gets the most use will probably be the plunger. It's the go-to solution when you need to unclog a toilet, sink, tub or floor drain. If the plunger won’t do the trick, you’ll need to use an auger.

Closet auger/toilet auger. This auger, made especially for toilets, has a long cable attached to a pole. It’s much more aggressive than a plunger and is designed to grind up the clog.

Hand auger. Sometimes called a hand spinner, this auger will help if a plunger can’t unclog a sink, tub or floor drain.  The hand auger has a coiled wire that will “snake” into the drain as you crank the handle.

Heavy duty pipe wrenches. Wrenches tighten and loosen nuts, fittings and treaded pipes. You often use two wrenches at once, one to hold the pipe and one to tighten. Since you’ll need two, you might consider getting two types: a straight pipe wrench (good for most tasks) and an offset pipe wrench (good for working at awkward angles and tight spots). That way you’ll be able to get into more types of workspaces.

Tongue and groove pliers. Often called by the brand name “Channellock,” these slip-joint pliers have the advantage of being easy to grip. You can adjust the jaw opening without making the handles further apart.

Basin wrench. If your project involves removing faucets from a sink, this tool will come in handy. Its long, slender handle will give you access to tight spaces that are inaccessible with other wrenches.

Pipecutter. While you can use a hacksaw to cut pipe, a pipecutter will make a much cleaner and faster cut.

Along with these basic tools, you’ll want to keep a few supplies on hand including rubber gloves, plumber’s putty, Teflon tape, drop cloths and towels.

One last tip: Before starting your DIY plumbing project, know where the main shut-off valve is located. Better to be safe than soggy sorry.