Proper Plumbing: When to Use Household Tools vs Calling a Plumber

2 Jul

When you’re experiencing a minor issue with your plumbing, it’s helpful to keep a few trade tools available for the treatment of that problem. But don’t forget that while it’s safe to handle small issues by yourself, sizable plumbing problems should be tackled with the help of a professional.

Below are some tools you can try on your own. These methods don’t involve the manipulation of pipes, so you can use all of these tools without proper plumber training.

Flange Plunger

A flange plunger is designed to be used in toilets, and nothing else. The plunger is shaped to fit with the size of the toilet’s hole. When you fit the plunger over the hole, it vacuum seals. Then, you use the force of the toilet water to dislodge any clogs. When you have a stubborn toilet clog, a flange plunger should be the first thing you turn to. It’s often helpful to have one beside each of the toilets in your home.

Toilet Auger

When plungers don’t work to clear your blocked toilet, there’s another course of action you can use before you call your plumber. You should have a toilet auger on hand. These handy tools are also sometimes known as closet augers. When you use the tool, first you should determine if the toilet bowl has drains toward the back or the front. Once you’ve determined this, push the metal auger all the way down the drain. The cable will snake down alongside it.

After it’s impossible for you to easily push the auger down, you should crank it to break the clog. If you feel like there’s something caught on the auger, lift it out of the toilet to check and clean if necessary.

Cup Plunger

Cup plungers are similar to flange plungers. The shape of this plunger resembles a cup that has been turned upside-down. It’s optimized for the type of hole in a sink or a bathtub drain. When your narrow pipes get clogged, use this plunger in the sink or bathtub the same way you use the flange plunger in the toilet.

Sink Auger

This tool is also referred to as a canister auger or drum auger. You use it in the same way that you use a toilet auger, except it’s optimized for the pipes in your bathtub or sink. You should only use the sink auger after you’ve unsuccessfully tried to use the plunger.

When to Call a Plumber

Just as it’s important to have a handful of DIY skills for handling your plumbing, it’s also important to know when to call in a professional plumber. Some problems are so big that only the professionals can handle them. If you think you need to manipulate any pipes to solve the problem, it’s a good idea to get in contact with a plumber as soon as possible.

The following are tools that should be used by plumbers or with plumber supervision.

Adjustable Pipe Wrench

When a pipe needs to be removed entirely, the job is best done by using an adjustable pipe wrench. This type of wrench has serrated teeth that grip the pipe firmly. That said, the twisting motion of the wrench will often leave behind tooth marks. If you’re working on trim, you should cover the tooth marks with duct tape.

You can cause structural damage to your home if you remove a pipe incorrectly or accidentally remove the wrong pipe. For this reason, it’s imperative that you contact a plumber before using this tool.


When the pipe wrench fails, the professionals tend to go for the hacksaw. This is an incredibly powerful saw that can cut through almost any material. It doesn’t matter what kind of bolt, nut, hardware, or pipe that you need to cut through, this saw is ready and capable of doing the job.

You shouldn’t cut anything unless you’ve talked to a plumber or you have the supervision of your plumber. If you cut through a difficult-to-replace pipe, you might find your repairs costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Tubing Cutter

It’s important for copper tubing to have a smooth cut. Other saws and cutters can’t always accomplish this. A tubing cutter will cut copper pipes smoothly. This is usually preferable to the hacksaw. After you clamp the tubing cutter tool onto the pipe, all you need to do is spin the blade around the circumference of the pipe. It’s a similar principle to the one you’d need to open a can with a can opener.

Choosing the Right Plumber

Sometimes, choosing the right person for a job can seem overwhelming. You want to make sure you hire someone who meets your expectations while fitting within your budget. This is usually when the plumbing issue is a problem that has you stumped, or a problem that requires tools an everyday man doesn’t use regularly.

You want to be absolutely sure that the plumber you hire knows how to use his tools. You want them to be able to diagnose the problem quickly and solve it in an efficient manner. You want them to fit within your budget constraints. Most of all, you want them to be efficient, reliable, and dependable.

Brother’s Plumbing is available 24/7 to offer expertise and guidance about a huge number of plumbing issues. If you have an emergency, we’re on call no matter whether it’s the afternoon or the middle of the night. We offer the following plumbing services:

  • Repair of sump pumps
  • Main water line
  • Repair of sewer lines
  • Prevention of backflow
  • Residential services
  • Commercial services
  • Natural gas services
  • Water heaters

To book an inspection, call Brother’s Plumbing on (416) 656-6717 or contact us here.

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