What's Inside a Plumber's Toolbox? Photos of Plumbing Tools List and Materials Needed to Get The Job Done!

The Plumber's Bible! The Fuel Gas and Plumbing Code Book.

Every Licensed Plumber has one of these Code Books and is required by law to have a copy of the current code on each work site along with permits. Every state has their own code but there are National Standards that apply to each state.
Every Licensed Plumber has one of these Code Books and is required by law to have a copy of the current code on each work site along with permits. Every state has their own code but there are National Standards that apply to each state. | Source

Plumbing 101: General Introduction to Plumbing Tools and Principles

Did you know that April 25th is National Plumbers Day?

Plumbing is one of the Highest Paying Jobs in the Construction Field.

Plumbers are responsible for 2 Basic Principles:

Providing Potable Water (safe to drink) and Keeping it Separated from Waste, while Properly Disposing of such Waste via a System of Pipes.

Plumbers have many Codes to follow.

Licensed Plumbers are also permitted to work with Natural Gas, a very volatile substance.

No Home Owner should EVER attempt to Fix, Install or Repair ANY Gas Lines or Appliances without Proper Permits and Professional Installation!!!

This includes Digging Into the Ground to Access Underground Pipes! (Visit DigSafe for more information!)

Without Plumbers we wouldn't be able to do the many simple things that we take for granted. Things like cooking, using a toilet, taking a shower, washing dishes, etc. We would have to walk down to the well or the lake and draw water, hoping that it is safe to drink if we had no Plumbers!

Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who lack these basic commodities.

Safety is always the first consideration for a Plumber. If a Working Environment is not safe, a Plumber wont work there until it is.

Plumbers are frequently exposed to Corrosive Materials, Dangerous Chemicals, Noxious Gases, and Bacteria-Infested Environments. The Plumbing Field is Highly Regulated and each job requires a Permit and a Final Inspection from the Plumbing Authority within each jurisdiction.

Plumbers go by The Plumbing Code: a set of standards put in place by the Federal Government. The Code is updated each year, so Licensed Plumbers need to maintain Continuing Education (CE, or Continuing Ed) throughout their Career.

There are also Individual Codes for Each State. Plumbers have to do a lot of research to make sure that they are within Legal Boundaries when performing their work; if an Inspector tells you that you have to tear down your work, you have no choice and it can be very costly!

Plumbers also follow all the laws implemented by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

This Article was created to offer a Photographic Display of the Basic Tools that you would find in a Plumber's Toolbox, with an Introduction to the Profession of Plumbing.

Without these tools they couldn't get the job done! So let's take a look at some of the photos of the tools and learn about their uses:

Basic Plumbing Tools and Safety Equipment

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Safety Glasses are super important. Often times plumbers are dealing with hazardous Waste and rely on this safety tool to prevent them from getting infected. No one wants to get Human Waste in their eye or the Dangerous Chemicals used to Unclog PipesA pencil will almost always be found tucked behind the ear of every plumber. Although the most basic of tools, a pencil is probably the most important because it is used to mark measurements for plumbers to know where to cut pipes and other materialsA Tape Measure is used to make long measurements. When plumbers install lengths of pipe they rely on this basic tool to make precise measurements. No plumber is without this tool and usually you will find it hooked on the plumber's belt!Hardhats are particularly useful in Industrial Environments. Often times plumbers have to work where floors have rotted because of leaks and these hardhats protect their head from falling debris.Respirators are used when toxic chemicals are present including the very dangerous Asbestos which has been proven to cause lung diseases such as Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer.
Safety Glasses are super important. Often times plumbers are dealing with hazardous Waste and rely on this safety tool to prevent them from getting infected. No one wants to get Human Waste in their eye or the Dangerous Chemicals used to Unclog Pipes
Safety Glasses are super important. Often times plumbers are dealing with hazardous Waste and rely on this safety tool to prevent them from getting infected. No one wants to get Human Waste in their eye or the Dangerous Chemicals used to Unclog Pipes | Source
A pencil will almost always be found tucked behind the ear of every plumber. Although the most basic of tools, a pencil is probably the most important because it is used to mark measurements for plumbers to know where to cut pipes and other materials
A pencil will almost always be found tucked behind the ear of every plumber. Although the most basic of tools, a pencil is probably the most important because it is used to mark measurements for plumbers to know where to cut pipes and other materials | Source
A Tape Measure is used to make long measurements. When plumbers install lengths of pipe they rely on this basic tool to make precise measurements. No plumber is without this tool and usually you will find it hooked on the plumber's belt!
A Tape Measure is used to make long measurements. When plumbers install lengths of pipe they rely on this basic tool to make precise measurements. No plumber is without this tool and usually you will find it hooked on the plumber's belt! | Source
Hardhats are particularly useful in Industrial Environments. Often times plumbers have to work where floors have rotted because of leaks and these hardhats protect their head from falling debris.
Hardhats are particularly useful in Industrial Environments. Often times plumbers have to work where floors have rotted because of leaks and these hardhats protect their head from falling debris. | Source
Respirators are used when toxic chemicals are present including the very dangerous Asbestos which has been proven to cause lung diseases such as Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer.
Respirators are used when toxic chemicals are present including the very dangerous Asbestos which has been proven to cause lung diseases such as Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer. | Source

Types of Plumbing Pipe Systems

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The top of 2 Hot Water Tanks: venting through a chimneyOften called the "Shit Stack" this system is on the lowest floor of a dwelling and receives all the waste from above floors and releases it into the sewer system outside of the property.Toilets are actually called "Water Closets" in the field. This is a photo of the shut-off valve underneath the tank.Basement Sump Pump in an old leaky basement. These pumps are easy and fast to install and will continuously pump out flooded rain water.This is a standard Gas Boiler. This creates the heat for baseboard and conventional radiator home heating systems.Pedestal Sink found in many bathrooms. These are attractive for smaller spaces because the plumbing is hidden and there is no Vanity Unit required.Typical Symmons Temptrol Shower Valve. These valves are well made and are used with families that have small children because of the built-in Anti-Scolding technology.Hot Water Shut-Off Valves are required by law. They can stop the flow of water when a leak is found to prevent further leakage. They are also used when purging a system.Standard Shower Heads are designed to reduce water waste. They come in many different styles. This one is stationary but there are models that have retractable heads for closer body rinsing!
The top of 2 Hot Water Tanks: venting through a chimney
The top of 2 Hot Water Tanks: venting through a chimney | Source
Often called the "Shit Stack" this system is on the lowest floor of a dwelling and receives all the waste from above floors and releases it into the sewer system outside of the property.
Often called the "Shit Stack" this system is on the lowest floor of a dwelling and receives all the waste from above floors and releases it into the sewer system outside of the property. | Source
Toilets are actually called "Water Closets" in the field. This is a photo of the shut-off valve underneath the tank.
Toilets are actually called "Water Closets" in the field. This is a photo of the shut-off valve underneath the tank. | Source
Basement Sump Pump in an old leaky basement. These pumps are easy and fast to install and will continuously pump out flooded rain water.
Basement Sump Pump in an old leaky basement. These pumps are easy and fast to install and will continuously pump out flooded rain water. | Source
This is a standard Gas Boiler. This creates the heat for baseboard and conventional radiator home heating systems.
This is a standard Gas Boiler. This creates the heat for baseboard and conventional radiator home heating systems. | Source
Pedestal Sink found in many bathrooms. These are attractive for smaller spaces because the plumbing is hidden and there is no Vanity Unit required.
Pedestal Sink found in many bathrooms. These are attractive for smaller spaces because the plumbing is hidden and there is no Vanity Unit required. | Source
Typical Symmons Temptrol Shower Valve. These valves are well made and are used with families that have small children because of the built-in Anti-Scolding technology.
Typical Symmons Temptrol Shower Valve. These valves are well made and are used with families that have small children because of the built-in Anti-Scolding technology. | Source
Hot Water Shut-Off Valves are required by law. They can stop the flow of water when a leak is found to prevent further leakage. They are also used when purging a system.
Hot Water Shut-Off Valves are required by law. They can stop the flow of water when a leak is found to prevent further leakage. They are also used when purging a system. | Source
Standard Shower Heads are designed to reduce water waste. They come in many different styles. This one is stationary but there are models that have retractable heads for closer body rinsing!
Standard Shower Heads are designed to reduce water waste. They come in many different styles. This one is stationary but there are models that have retractable heads for closer body rinsing! | Source

Plumbing Systems

There are many different plumbing systems. Heating, Gas, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Kitchen and Bathroom and more. Plumbers fix water leaks and flooded basements, install sinks and showers, and provide ventilation of noxious gases.

There are drain systems and networks of pipes and fittings put together to create a system that separates waste and potable water and makes water and waste flow efficient. Plumbing is a science and projects must be thoroughly planned out before they start.

Usually plumbers will use diagrams and mathematical formulas and their own experience to plan a project and know what to buy and how much to estimate for the cost of a job.

Without doing appropriate planning and research, a plumber will not be financially successful nor will he or she have a good reputation!

No matter what type of system needs to be installed or repaired, a qualified plumber should always perform the work as they are experienced and should carry insurance should anything go wrong. Lot's of things can go wrong when you are dealing with water or Natural Gas in a house!

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Now that we have explored the basics, let's look at some more plumbing specific tools. Wrenches, pliers, and many other tools are necessary for daily plumbing activities. There are many types of pipes, many different sizes, and different materials such as plastic and metals like copper, lead, aluminum, etc. Different materials call for different types of tools for each specific plumbing job.

Specific Tools for Plumbers

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ballpeen Hammers are great when demolishing old pipe and getting into walls to fix leaks!Screwdrivers are useful for many things. Often times plumbers use these tools to tighten other tools like Sawzalls. Crowbars and Flatbars are important to a plumber. They are often used for jobs like prying up a floor to get to a leaking pipe.Flashlights are important because often times there is no light, particularly when plumbers are working in a new construction site.Dusk masks are used when in an environment has a lot of dust or when a lot of cutting of plastic pipe is being done.Pipe clamps come in different sizes and are used to secure 2 joints together. Usually used as a temporary fix.Pipe Wrenches are perhaps the most widely recognized of all plumbing tools. They come in different sizes and are necessary to join threaded connections, particularly on large pipes.Copper Pipe Cutters come in different sizes and are used to cut copper pipes with a clean cut.Plastic Thread Tape is used to make a water-tight seal when joining to pieces of plastic threaded pipes and fittings.Pipe Thread Sealant also know as "Pipe Dope" is another form of sealant. Adjustable Wrenches are used quite often by plumbers.This tool is often used during the installation of a bathroom sink.No plumber is without Needle Nose Pliers!Vice Grips come in different sizes and a re a plumber's best friend!
Ballpeen Hammers are great when demolishing old pipe and getting into walls to fix leaks!
Ballpeen Hammers are great when demolishing old pipe and getting into walls to fix leaks! | Source
Screwdrivers are useful for many things. Often times plumbers use these tools to tighten other tools like Sawzalls.
Screwdrivers are useful for many things. Often times plumbers use these tools to tighten other tools like Sawzalls. | Source
Crowbars and Flatbars are important to a plumber. They are often used for jobs like prying up a floor to get to a leaking pipe.
Crowbars and Flatbars are important to a plumber. They are often used for jobs like prying up a floor to get to a leaking pipe. | Source
Flashlights are important because often times there is no light, particularly when plumbers are working in a new construction site.
Flashlights are important because often times there is no light, particularly when plumbers are working in a new construction site. | Source
Dusk masks are used when in an environment has a lot of dust or when a lot of cutting of plastic pipe is being done.
Dusk masks are used when in an environment has a lot of dust or when a lot of cutting of plastic pipe is being done. | Source
Pipe clamps come in different sizes and are used to secure 2 joints together. Usually used as a temporary fix.
Pipe clamps come in different sizes and are used to secure 2 joints together. Usually used as a temporary fix. | Source
Pipe Wrenches are perhaps the most widely recognized of all plumbing tools. They come in different sizes and are necessary to join threaded connections, particularly on large pipes.
Pipe Wrenches are perhaps the most widely recognized of all plumbing tools. They come in different sizes and are necessary to join threaded connections, particularly on large pipes. | Source
Copper Pipe Cutters come in different sizes and are used to cut copper pipes with a clean cut.
Copper Pipe Cutters come in different sizes and are used to cut copper pipes with a clean cut. | Source
Plastic Thread Tape is used to make a water-tight seal when joining to pieces of plastic threaded pipes and fittings.
Plastic Thread Tape is used to make a water-tight seal when joining to pieces of plastic threaded pipes and fittings. | Source
Pipe Thread Sealant also know as "Pipe Dope" is another form of sealant.
Pipe Thread Sealant also know as "Pipe Dope" is another form of sealant. | Source
Adjustable Wrenches are used quite often by plumbers.
Adjustable Wrenches are used quite often by plumbers. | Source
This tool is often used during the installation of a bathroom sink.
This tool is often used during the installation of a bathroom sink. | Source
No plumber is without Needle Nose Pliers!
No plumber is without Needle Nose Pliers! | Source
Vice Grips come in different sizes and a re a plumber's best friend!
Vice Grips come in different sizes and a re a plumber's best friend! | Source
Trap and Drain System underneath a Double Kitchen Sink. Notice the Bottle Trap in the center.
Trap and Drain System underneath a Double Kitchen Sink. Notice the Bottle Trap in the center. | Source
Typical Kitchen Sink: Clean Dishes on one side, Dirty Dishes on the other!
Typical Kitchen Sink: Clean Dishes on one side, Dirty Dishes on the other! | Source

Household Plumbing Fixtures

There are so many plumbing systems and fixtures within a home or office. From Kitchens to Bathrooms and Convenience Items like Ice and Water Dispensers on Refrigerators, Food Disposal Systems, and Heating and Air Conditioning Systems, etc.

All these things require plumbing and as I mentioned before, a Licensed Qualified Professional Plumber should always be used for setting up appliances. I know that it is tempting to do-it yourself these days with so many plumbing materials available at chain stores like Home Depot and Loews, to name a couple.

A general rule to follow is that if you don't know what you are doing or have to perform a lot of research for a project, you probably shouldn't attempt to do the project yourself! Faulty plumbing is responsible for millions of dollars in destruction, often due to an inexperienced person making repairs.


Samples of Plumbing Fittings

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Typical PVC Pipe Stock at a local Hardware Store.Standard Copper Fittings: Couplings are used to join 2 sections of pipe. These connections need to be properly soldered for a water-tight seal. Notice how the top one is tapered, the middle is straight and the bottom is threaded.Standard P-Trap used in sinks and other waste draining systems. These are designed to allow a little bit of water to sit in the flat side of the curve so that toxic gases can't seep into the air.These are standard Copper Angle Fittings. Notice the top one is at a 45 degree angle and the bottom is @ 90 degrees. These are the 2 most basic but there are several other angles and varieties.
Typical PVC Pipe Stock at a local Hardware Store.
Typical PVC Pipe Stock at a local Hardware Store. | Source
Standard Copper Fittings: Couplings are used to join 2 sections of pipe. These connections need to be properly soldered for a water-tight seal. Notice how the top one is tapered, the middle is straight and the bottom is threaded.
Standard Copper Fittings: Couplings are used to join 2 sections of pipe. These connections need to be properly soldered for a water-tight seal. Notice how the top one is tapered, the middle is straight and the bottom is threaded. | Source
Standard P-Trap used in sinks and other waste draining systems. These are designed to allow a little bit of water to sit in the flat side of the curve so that toxic gases can't seep into the air.
Standard P-Trap used in sinks and other waste draining systems. These are designed to allow a little bit of water to sit in the flat side of the curve so that toxic gases can't seep into the air. | Source
These are standard Copper Angle Fittings. Notice the top one is at a 45 degree angle and the bottom is @ 90 degrees. These are the 2 most basic but there are several other angles and varieties.
These are standard Copper Angle Fittings. Notice the top one is at a 45 degree angle and the bottom is @ 90 degrees. These are the 2 most basic but there are several other angles and varieties. | Source

Plumbing Materials and General Knowledge

There are many materials used in plumbing projects. Showers and Sinks need to be installed and there is a lot of technical planning that takes place before beginning the project. How much pipe is needed? What types of pipes do I need? Plastic PVC Pipes? Maybe Copper Pipes? The answers will vary depending on the individual project.

All Hot Water Piping Systems require 3/4 inch copper piping of a high grade. If you don't use the right pipe, pressure can build and force the pipes to burst which makes a heck of a mess! Did you kknow that in many states the do-it-yourself kits for plumbing a Water and Ice Dispensiing System to a Refrigerator are illegal? That's right! Even though you can legally buy these kits in the Home Improvement Stores, Lisenced Plumbers will refuse to install them because they are illegal according to Plumbing Code.

You know that faucet outside of your house that provides a hook-up for a hose? That's actually called a "Sillcock"! Toilets are actually called "Water Closets" and when a plumber solders two copper pipes, it is called "sweating".

"Roughing" refers to preparing all the pipes in a new construction before the walls are put up. Before any running water can flow in a new construction a Plumbing Inspector must certify the entire project.

This article is in no way a comprehensive list of tools used in this field. There are many more tools and materials used in the Plumbing Field. This article represents a few of the most basic tools and materials used on the job site. Many of these tools and materials can be found at your local Hardware Store. This article is designed for someone who wants to know more about the Field of Plumbing or wants to get familiar with Plumbing Materials. Always check with a professional before attempting any projects!

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Comments 32 comments

J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Daisy Mariposa I appreciate you commenting and sharing with your followers! Thanks for stopping by another one of my Hubs!

JSMatthew~


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

JS,

Thanks for publishing this very helpful information. I'm sharing this article with my followers.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hello TexBiz. It sounds like you experienced a Plumbing Horror Story! That must have been quite a task drawing out the entire piping system for a Navy Ship! I think your last line is great advice! Leave the complicated stuff to the professionals! Thanks for stopping by!

JSMatthew~


TexBiz profile image

TexBiz 5 years ago from Bastrop, Texas

In the 90's I was working on my toilet and somehow I cracked the entire tub that held the water and it cost me a lot more to replace the toilet than it would've cost to fix it. I had to draw every diagram for all the boilers, pumps, and related equipment in the engineroom or my Navy Ship and when I got out I rarely used the knowledge I gained in the service. I now fix simple things only and leave the difficult things to experts.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

You are welcome Cutie! Glad to help you with your project!

JSMatthew~


Cutie 5 years ago

Thnx a lot it helped me to do my science Project..Its really helpful to me in every way >.. Thnx to anyone who made this..


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you Sueswan! I appreciate your support.

JSMatthew~


Sueswan 5 years ago

A very interesting and informative hub.

Wish you the best of luck in the plumbing contest.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@DeborahNeyens: Thanks for stopping by! I'll have to check out that article. Thanks for your comment!

JSMatthew~


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@PK2010: There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we don't realize or we take for granted; Plumbing is one of them! I am not positive but pretty sure that April 25th National Plumbers Day is exclusive to the US. I'll have to look into that! I appreciate your insightful comment and your vote! Thank you!

JSMatthew~


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 5 years ago from Iowa

Congratulations! Lots of interesting little tidbits about plumbing. But just say no to the nasty chemical decloggers! Check out jwhitman's recent hub about homemade decloggers that are environmentally safe.


PK2010 profile image

PK2010 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi JS, I must say, plumbing is not my thing, however I read your hub out of curiosity, and my have I learnt a lot. Its amazing the kind of jobs we tend to frown upon and also take for granted. You have rightly pointed out that plumbing is one of them. Truly said without the plumber we would not enjoy the comforts of free, clean drinking water that we take for granted, nor will we enjoy the cascading warmth that comes out of the showers during bath time. I always knew plumbing was an existing profession, but never once thought about the code of ethics that surrounded this unmistakably very important profession. I never knew 25th April was national plumbers day, though need to ask if this is applicable to the US alone. Its amazing how much skill and intellect goes into becoming a plumber. Good work done here, very informative. Voted useful.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thanks for you comment and for bookmarking this Hub VENZKHVAM! I appreciate you stopping by and voting!

JSMatthew~


VENZKHVAM profile image

VENZKHVAM 5 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

J.S.MATHEW,

As usual you rocks a complete guide to a plumber. I think he can get a certification if he studies this and you conduct an exam on this. Ok jokes apart congrats on winning the hot pick of the day whenever you had won.I am book marking this for the future use.Voting up and useful.Great man kudos.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thanks K9! I appreciate your comment and votes!

JSMatthew~


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

Congrats! Another well done hub JSMatthew! Great plumbers terms and tools to get one through a project of any size! Up and awesome sir!

Cheers~

K9


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you Vinaya for bookmarking this article! Your (many!) comments are always appreciated! It was pretty cool that we got to chat the other day on Facebook! Instantly from opposite ends of the world!

JSMatthew~


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

101 of plumbing is very interesting. Once, I needed a plumber, but for a week I could not find anyone, then I self learned to fix the licking problem. I'm going to remember this article. We never know what we'll need in future.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you applecsmith! I appreciate that!

JSMatthew~


applecsmith profile image

applecsmith 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Congratulations! Well deserved.


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