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

In case of a minor plumbing issue, it can be helpful to have a few tools of the trade available to treat the problem. Keep in mind that while it is fine to take care of a few small issues on your own, it is best to consult a plumber before taking on any sizable plumbing problem.

Tools to Try on Your Own

Using these tools, you can generally fix a clog in the system. These methods do not involve manipulating pipes, so you can try them on your own.

Flange Plunger This plunger is specifically designed for toilets because the shape of the plunger accommodates the size of the hole in the toilet. Using the force of water and a vacuum-seal, the plunger works to dislodge clogs in the toilet. A flange plunger should be your first line of defense when dealing with toilet clogs.


Toilet Auger
If the plunger does not clear a clogged toilet, your next course of action should be to use a closet, or toilet, auger. To use this tool, determine whether your toilet boil drains to the front or the back, and then push the metal auger down the drain, allowing the cable to snake down with it.

Once the auger can no longer be easily pushed down, crank it to break up the clog. If it feels like the auger has caught something, lift it out to check.


Cup Plunger
Similar to a flange plunger, this plunger’s shape resembles an upside-down cup. This type of plunger can be used on sinks and bathtubs.


Sink Auger
Also called a drum or canister auger, this tool will be used in the same way a toilet auger would, but in a sink or tub drain. This step should be taken after first trying the plunger. 


Consult Your Plumber Before Using These Tools 

While you may still be able to complete a project using tools you have at home, if any pipe manipulation is involved, it is smart to contact a plumber before proceeding.


Adjustable Pipe Wrench
If you need to remove a pipe, an adjustable pipe wrench can do the job. The serrated teeth on this tool allow the wrench to maintain a firm grip on the pipe. However, the twisting action will often leave tooth marks behind, so cover the teeth with duct tape if you are working on trim.

Removing the wrong pipe or removing a pipe incorrectly can cause damage, so contact a plumber before using this tool.


Hacksaw
This saw will slice through almost anything. No matter what type of pipe, hardware, nut, or bolt you need to cut through, this saw should be able to get the job done.

Before cutting anything, make sure you have talked with a plumber to avoid causing damage.


Tubing Cutter
Copper tubing requires a smooth cut that other cutters and saws can’t always accomplish. Tubing cutters will smoothly cut copper pipes. After clamping the tool on the pipe, spin the cutter around the pipe for an even cut.