Plumbing special tools info

Blow torch

The blow torch finds several uses in plumbing work. You can use it to melt old leaded joints, to heat soldering irons, and to make soldered joints.

Center punch

The center punch is used to lay out holes and spot centers when you are planning your work.


Invaluable in many phases of plumbing, chisels are particularly useful for work with cast-iron pipe and for clearing an area of masonry, old metal, or flooring before starting a repair job. Use flat-back chisels for fine cutting or shaving, and appropriate sizes and types for woodwork when pipefitting. Never use chisels with split or mushroomed handles.

The most common and most important chisels are:

  • Cold chisel: for cutting cold metal (best size, 3/4").
  • Cape chisel: has narrow cutting edge for making grooves in cast iron.
  • Picking chisel: for cleaning out caulked lead joints.
  • Brick chisel: for cutting through brick and masonry.
  • Floor chisel: for cutting through wood without splitting floorboards.

Hammers and mallets

A 1 1/2" lb. machinist's hammer will do most average jobs. It should be case-hardened and have a flat face for striking. A slightly lighter hammer is needed for caulking work. You may need a wooden mallet when working with sheet lead. See Fig. 11. A carpenter's claw hammer is useful for general work and around woodwork.

Melting pot and ladle

Usually heated by gasoline, electricity, or acetylene, these pots are used to melt lead and solder. They are made for both indoor and outdoor work. The ladle can be used to melt small amount of lead over the flame from a kitchen gas stove. Clean and scrape both pot and ladle after use.

Packing and caulking irons

These irons are used to pack and caulk cast-iron and other large-size pipes to prevent leakage. A set of irons includes several chisels (cold, brick, diamond-point, spreading and cutting, picking, and cape) and various irons (caulking, finishing, yarning, spring yarning, offset, and stub).

Pipe-drain rods, augers, and coils

These are flexible or sectional, hand-operated instruments used to unclog faulty drains or sections of pipe. The pipe-drain rod is inserted into the faulty section and rotated until the hook catches the impediment. Sectional rod augers and coils are used for straight or nearly straight runs of pipe; steel coils or snakes with hook or gimlet ends will cure stoppages in pipes or water closets having bends or curves.


Known as the "plumber's friend" or force cup, this familiar stiff-rubber, bell-shaped instrument with a wooden handle is often used to free clogged drains, water closets, sinks, and the like. Working it up and down a few times over the opening creates a suction which loosens impediments. A few inches of water left in the fixture helps to increase suction.

Plumb bobs

You can either purchase a plumb bob or make one by attaching a lead or other pointed weight to one end of a strong line. It is used to check alignment of pipes and fixtures, and to check their positions when you are working through a hole in the floor.

Soldering iron, flux, and solder

Soldering irons are made in several sizes. There are two basic designs. The "hatchet" bit has a wedge - shaped edge, and the "straight" bit comes to a point. All irons have copper tips, but some are forged and others are cast. Though more expensive, the forged tip lasts longer and does a better job. Most soldering irons have self-contained electrical heating units. Others are heated in the flame from a blow torch.

Flux is a substance used to aid the fusing of metals when soldering. Solders are metal alloys with fairly low melting points used to fuse two metal pieces. Be sure to obtain the correct solder for the job you are doing. Your hardware dealer should be able to supply this information. Flux and solder are inexpensive; since they are of the greatest importance in doing your plumbing work well, always buy the best quality obtainable.

Test plugs

These small plugs have limited use in amateur plumbing work but are worthy of mention since they are used in testing newly installed pipe. They are inserted in all openings of a new pipe system except the highest one, and water is fed into the top opening until all the pipes are full. A careful check of all joints and connections will reveal the presence of leaks, cracks, or breaks.

Plumbing basics

Bathroom fixtures
Bathroom floor plans
Bathtub installation
Installing lavatory
Water closet install

Cesspool / septic tanks

Fixture pipes
House drain
House sewer
Soil stack
Vent piping

Finishing touch

Heating a home


Dishwasher install
Garbage disposer install
Kitchen plans
Kitchen sink installation
Laundry install
Room plans
Work areas

Cast Iron

Plumbing layout
Pipe plan
Water distributing

Faucet repair
Pipe problems
Repair other
Toilet repair


Plumbing materials
Specialty tools

Water Supply

Hot water heaters
Running pipes
Service connection
Water meter
Water savings

Wells / pumps