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Plumbing Tool Essentials for Beginners

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows the basic tools required for most plumbing projects


  1. Richard recommends labeling the main water shutoff valve to make it easy to locate in an emergency.
  2. Water pump pliers are a good multipurpose plumbing tool. Richard recommends selecting a pair that opens wide enough.
  3. An adjustable open-end wrench allows for tightening and loosening without leaving behind marks.
  4. A basin wrench allows facuet nuts that are hard to access to be loosened and tightened.
  5. A screwdriver with multiple tips allows one tool to be used for many applications.
  6. A plunger is useful for clearing stopped toilets.
  7. For more difficult clogs, a closet auger can be used in toilets.
  8. A plumbing snake can clear clogged drainpipes.
  9. Identify a local plumber who can be called in an emergency and keep his number handy.


All of the tools and materials listed here can be found at a home center or plumbing supply store.