What tools does a plumber need in their tool box? Professional installers tell us they use these top 13 plumbing tools time and again.
Our list of surprising plumbing tools goes beyond your day-to-day staples of a good hacksaw, a set of well-engineered adjustable spanners, basin spanners, screwdrivers and a decent tape measure.
Great all-rounder plumbing tools
- An endoscope. Tight spaces or areas that are impossible to access are no longer your enemy with an endoscope. They’re an essential plumbing tool for diagnosing and locating a whole variety of plumbing issues: from blocked drains to limescale build-up in a heat exchanger. Their cost used to be the surprise, but these days you can pick one up for under £150 to £200. Once you start using it, the surprise will be how you ever managed without one!
- Electrical detector. Better safe than sorry when dealing with electricity – as well as isolating the hot water cylinder (and boiler in an indirect system), check where wires are with an electrical detector before working on a hot water cylinder. Unless you were with the sparky when they wired it up, or you’re psychic, you won’t know otherwise.
Tools a plumber needs for installing new unvented hot water cylinders
- Cylinder straps. Let’s face it, hot water cylinders are a pain to move. They’re big, top heavy, have a high centre of gravity, and there’s nothing more upsetting than damaging one on the way to a job. Save yourself some hassle by having cylinder straps in your plumbing tool box.
- A flow measure cup. This one’s probably not often considered as a tool plumbers need, but measuring and checking the water flow is as bread-and-butter as measuring the dimensions of the space a new hot water cylinder’s being installed in to make sure it will fit. You can also use a flow measure cup to help diagnose plumbing problems. In short: this really is a must-have plumbing tool – we wouldn’t dream of starting an installation without one.
- Water testing kit. Test the water pH and hardness to help spec out a job, so you know when to take preventative action and fit a water softener.
Six of our 13 surprising tools a plumber needs are often used when maintaining or servicing hot water cylinders.
- Pressure gauges. Air and water pressure testing is a doddle with a set of pressure gauges.
- A thermometer probe. Check the temperature of the water in the cylinder the easy way. Thermometers are also an essential plumbing tool when you’re fault-finding.
- Immersion heater spanner. Ever gone to service a cylinder and found the immersion heater spanner has gone walkies? We’ve learnt the hard way not to rely on there being one on the cylinder: far better to bob one in your plumbing toolbox.
- Circulating pump. We’re still astounded how many plumbers don’t consider a pump to be an essential plumbing tool. Having a circulating pump will save you a tonne of time when draining hot water cylinders, especially when there’s a limited drop on the drain pipe.
- Compressor. Use a compressor to pump up an external expansion vessel quickly to check the bladder’s intact and working properly.
Tools a plumber needs for cutting and preparing pipe
We’re always surprised by how many plumbers don’t have these three plumbing essentials in their tool kit.
- A set of 15, 22 & 28mm pipe slices. These plumbing tools are must-haves for cutting copper pipe for your installations. Make sure you also have spare blades so you’re never cutting with a blunt or damaged blade. A good pipe slice can get in all those hard-to-reach locations and gives you a nice square cut time after time.
- Pipe cleaner & deburrer. The last thing you want is a ragged pipe end damaging an O-ring seal and resulting in a leak. Using a pipe cleaner and deburrer to smooth off the inner and outer edges of your pipe takes only a few seconds and can save hours of unnecessary hassle.
- Pipe benders. Pipe benders are a key piece of kit. They may seem quite expensive and bulky but you’ll need to fork out a lot less on fittings as a result of having them. They more than pay for themselves over their working life, which in our book makes them a definite must-have tool for plumbers.
The non-plumbing plumbing tool
Not strictly a plumbing tool, so it’s not in our “13 surprising tools a plumber needs” list, but we highly recommending using the capabilities of your smartphone. Document your work, and record what the job started like and how you finished it. As manufacturers, it’s also really handy for us to help diagnose any issues you’re trying to fix when you can send us a photo or video. We’ll be able to you get back to you so much faster and with more specific information.