Kidd Plumbing has been servicing the Greater Raleigh, North Carolina community since 1988. Repairs and Remodeling of all types; Fixtures, Faucets, Drain Cleaning, Water Filters, Toilets, Showers, Sinks, Garbage Disposals, water main Leaks and much much more.
Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. Plumbing tools are a diverse lot, as the trade requires cutting, fit­ting, and fastening, and even a bit of carpentry when installing new lines and closing up around them. The inside of freshly cut copper and other soft pipe should be reamed clean of burrs and shavings. Pipe cutters function in much the same way as tubing cutters do, but are made of steel and are designed for cutting pipes with thicker walls.
The propane torch can help perform a variety of tasks, but its principal use is to join metals by soldering or brazing. Canisters of fuel can be purchased separately; in them the pres­sured, liquid propane is stored. Small canisters of propane have the brass burner and valve as­sembly screwed directly onto the mouth of the container.
What distinguishes the pipe wrench from other adjustables (and specifically from those more properly known as monkey wrenches) is the pivot. Pipe wrenches are intended to be used to turn a pipe or other round workpiece in one direction; in order to change direction, the wrench must be removed and the position of its jaws reversed. The pipe wrench jaw is mounted at right angles to the length of the handle; at the opposite end, there is a T bar for torquing the tool. The cranking motion should be in a clockwise direction (when looking into the end of the pipe).
Of course, we understand plumbing emergencies seem to happen at the most inopportune times. Please consider updating your browser to the latest version of Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.
Yet solving some kinds of plumbing problems involves sink traps, soil pipes, and clean-outs most foul.
A basic knowledge of the tools we’ll talk about here will allow you to perform basic repairs, as well as install new fixtures. Iron pipes are found in older structures, and their thread fittings require different techniques from the soldered sweat fittings that join copper elements.
These clever tools make neat, square cuts of plastic, copper, brass, or thin wall steel or iron tubing.
The lower jaw, which is advanced with a threaded screw and handle mechanism, slides along the back of the cutter.

The cutting wheel is positioned at the point along the pipe’s length where the cut is to be made, and the adjusting screw tightened until the wheel and rollers grip the pipe. Most tubing cutters have a ream­ing device mounted on the back of the tool for this purpose.
Instead of having one cutting wheel and two rollers, like tubing cutters, pipe cutters have three cutting wheels. It is also used in stripping paint (the heat softens the paint; wear a respirator if you are in doubt as to whether the paint is lead-based) and in removing old putty from window sash when replacing a windowpane. When it is released via the valve and nozzle, the gas vaporizes and can be lit to form an even flame.
The pipe wrench (recognizable to some as a monkey wrench) is an adjustable wrench generally used to grip pipes or rods. Unlike adjustable wrenches, the pipe wrench’s serrated jaws are not fixed parallel to one another, but when pressure is put on the handle, the pivot causes the jaws to close slightly. This is one of those specialty tools that has few uses – except at the moment you need the basin wrench and only the basin wrench will do. It’s designed to reach up behind the bowl of a sink and con­nect or disconnect the nuts that fasten the faucet or other fittings that provide water to a sink. The mechanical equivalent of a periscope, in a sense the basin wrench allows you to work where your hands can’t reach.
Even if you never plan to do any sweat fittings or plumb any plastic pipe, the plunger is a tool that may have a role to play in your household. Sink plungers have a simple, hemispherical cup; those designed to unclog toilets have a conical extension at the mouth of the cup that inserts into the throat of the toilet. This forces air into the pipes, increasing the pressure on the blockage, which may break up the material that is clogging the pipe. One of this tool’s nicknames, the snake, describes the way it twists and weaves, follow­ing the bends in the pipe. If you have reached the blockage, the turning snake will engage the blockage, and the twisted steel auger at its end will bore into the material, either causing it to break up or allowing you to pull it back out. From the accidental flushed toy to the ring down the sink; the need to make quick, minor repairs are sure to take place.
Other tools like the drill, hole saw, reciprocating saw, chisels, hammers, and numerous others, are often needed by the plumber, too.
In many places today building codes allow for the use of plastic pipe for waste lines or even for supply lines.
On most models, the sliding jaw has two rollers that hold the pipe squarely to the cutting wheel. To cut through the pipe, tighten the adjusting screw a fraction of a turn after each revolution; then rotate the pipe, tighten the screw further, and repeat the process until the cut is complete.

For those of us who run the occasional copper or plastic supply pipe, a simple and inexpensive tubing cutter is quite adequate, one that will cut copper, aluminum, or brass pipe of diameters up to an inch or an inch and a half. Older models relied upon kerosene, but much safer and easier- to-use propane-fueled models are now the rule. Attach­ments can be fitted to the nozzle to focus the flame tightly for precision soldering or to spread it for paint stripping or removing resilient tile. The intensity of the flame is controlled by the valve, which allows more or less gas to escape.
Other models are available that have larger tanks that are connected to the nozzle via a hose. The head jaw is at the end of the handle, while the hook jaw hangs from a pivot that slides along the back of the handle. It’s a rela­tively inexpensive tool that will quickly prove its worth when retro­fitting kitchen faucets or other sink fittings. If there is an overflow drain in the sink or tub, block its opening with a rag or a strip of duct tape.
That way you can be sure the clog isn’t simply at that point and easily removed by hand. Try twisting the snake in a cranking motion, using the built-in cranking handle that can be tightened (using a set screw) to the length of the coil. If the resistance you felt was not the blockage but a fitting, the cranking motion, together with some pushing pressure, will allow the snake to advance in the drain line.
We’ve put together a list of specific tools that will allow most homeowners the ability to attempt some of the most common plumbing problems.
The homeowner-plumber must be able to move swiftly from one trade to another, depending upon the needs of the particular task immedi­ately at hand. The resemblance ends there, however, since these tools have cutting wheels and rollers instead of flat or serrated jaws.
These are considerably more expensive, but the nozzle is lighter and easier to use in the cramped quarters that so often are the rule in plumbing.
More expensive models come with a crank and with a storage canister into which the length of the coil can be withdrawn, while simpler varieties are wound by hand into a coil. If your snake doesn’t have a crank, position one hand on the snake where it enters the trap.

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