If you’re a first-time homeowner, you’ll understand the common problems that plague most people. One of the most common issues is plumbing. The bad news is that you will experience plumbing problems on occasion. But here’s the good news: Plumbing issues are fixable. All it takes is knowledge and a few handy household items. Below is a list of tools everyone should own.


We’ll start off our list with something basic: the plunger. This handy household tool is good whenever you get in a pinch with a stopped-up commode or sink. But beware, because each plunger is different. Below are two plunger types with a purpose of their own.

Cup Plungers

Cup plungers come with a short rubber piece attached to a wooden stick. The rubber part is very light, which makes the cup plunger good at handling clogged showers, sinks, and bathtubs.

Flange Plungers

Otherwise known as industrial plungers, these tools are built to handle the toughest clogs. They come with a thick rubber piece that’s a little longer than the Cup. This plunger is best suited to jobs that require more muscle, such as toilet clogs. All it takes is a few whacks to get the water to go down.

Adjustable Wrench

Need to replace a faucet or a shower head? All it takes is an adjustable wrench. This handy tool is versatile enough to handle almost any job. Its gripping power makes this tool versatile enough to tighten faucets, handles, and more. Homeowners should consider having a variety of sizes around for every home maintenance task. But for plumbing fixtures, a 6-10 adjustable wrench with gripping teeth is highly recommended. And if you just installed brand-new plumbing fixtures, no worries. An adjustable crescent wrench can do the job. This toothless version has the same gripping power as a standard wrench. The only difference is that it won’t ruin the finish.

Basin Wrench

The basin wrench is not just a moniker, it’s a name that describes a special tool. Its long shaft makes it easy to use behind your sink. A basin wrench goes deep into the space behind your sink to loosen or tighten the nuts that keep everything in place. So, if your sink gets loose, get the basin wrench.

Small Hand Snake

You try and take a shower one day and then you notice something. The water seems a little slow going down the drain. You don’t want to call the plumber, but you know something must be done. So, what should you do?

Enter the small hand snake, a practical tool that’s reliable in tackling most drain clogs before they worsen. It’s great for catching excess bath tissue and human hair. Since the latter is one of the most common causes of tub and shower drain clogs, you can use the snake to get clogs out. Just put the snake inside the drain and crank the handle until it reaches the hair. Then pull it out.

And if you don’t have a snake, a wire hanger will do. You can twist it until it’s thin enough to go down your drain. Form a small hook at the end to catch the debris. Be careful not to let it scratch the inside of your pipes.

Caulk Gun

Caulk is the glue that fills every hole in your home’s drywall. If you’re wondering what this has to do with plumbing, the answer should come as no surprise. Caulk is useful for fixing drywall areas around your sinks, toilet, and shower. It’s excellent for repairing seals damaged by water leaks. All you have to do is aim and squeeze. Caulk is also effective at sealing the base of a toilet or a tub.

Thread Tape and Thread Sealant

A duct tape for plumbers, thread tape is perfect for stopping a leak in its tracks. You wrap it around the troubled area, which helps secure extra outflow. For best results, back it up with thread sealant. Both offer a watertight seal that’s strong enough to prevent further leaks.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Plumbing is dirty work, and even the most basic repairs can expose you to harmful chemicals and substances. Exposure to solid waste and contaminated water warrants the use of PPE. Even undoing a drain clog is dirty, so it’s good to wear gloves as a precaution. Thick rubber gloves are best for protecting your hands against germs and toxic chemicals. Some situations may call for goggles, special safety footwear, and a mask. But if you feel like a repair job is too hazardous for you to handle, it’s best to call a professional plumber.

A Flashlight or a Headlamp

Light under your sink or behind your toilet is scarce, so it’s important to keep a portable light source handy for these areas. A high-beam flashlight or headlamp allows you to see better in those areas. And if you’re making repairs, a hands-free flashlight is best. You can buy a large one at your local grocery or hardware store.

Dish Soap

This little-known plumbing hack is effective for clearing out most clogs. Just mix it with some hot water and let it bubble inside your drain. Dish soap is great for cleaning out oil and grease buildup from kitchen sinks and bath drains. You can use it to treat a clogged toilet, too. However, it’s not recommended for use in clearing out solid waste. These situations require a flange plunger.

Shop Vac

Leaks happen, and some are bigger than others. Water from a minor leak can be cleaned with a dry mop or a towel. But major leaks that leave large puddles require a different kind of tool. This is the reason to invest in a shop vac. Shop vacs are handy for tackling the toughest messes. You can use one to remove excess water after a major repair. They’re also great at handling big leaks that come from major appliances such as your water heater. Using a wet vac is less messy than using old towels. Plus, they’re great for helping reduce water damage in the long run.

Pipe Wrench

Loose pipes can happen anytime but are easily fixable. A good pipe wrench is useful for tightening your pipes and keeping them secure. They’re mostly used for threaded pipes that are made of black iron or galvanized steel. However, precaution is advised, because most pipe wrenches have teeth. You can use a piece of cloth to avoid putting scratches or dents on your pipes.

When to Call the Pros

There are some plumbing situations that require the aid of licensed professionals. If you live in the Wausau and Madison areas, Southport Home Services has professionals you can trust. We offer water heaters, water treatment, and drain cleaning services for your home. Our team can do fixture upgrades, bath remodels, and more. Plus, our team understands that the unpredictable can happen. We offer emergency plumbing services 24/7 year-round to handle your problem. Call Southport Home Services today to learn more about our plumbing and home repair services.

Meet the Author
Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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