The Best Plumbing Tools for Professional Plumbers in 2020
Having the right tools in your plumbers tool box means you can work faster, work safer, and get better results on the job.
Service techs and business owners need to squeeze into tight spaces, deal with rusted and rounded nuts, bolts, and screws, and avoid safety hazards that can lead to serious injury. All that while taking calls, keeping customers happy, and managing their cash flow. To do all this, they need a well-stocked plumber’s toolkit.
We spoke with residential and commercial plumbing professionals to create a list of essential, specialty, and new plumbing tools you can rely on.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Professional plumbing hand tools
- Specialty and new plumbing tools
- Plumbing business tools and apps
As you shop for plumbing tools, look for ones that are durable, easy-to-use, and when possible, designed specifically for plumbers. When it comes to your time, safety, and quality of work, this is no place to take shortcuts.
1. Professional Plumber Hand Tools
These are the basic plumber-specific tools you’ll reach for time after time to get tough jobs done right.
Best Plumbers Tools For Pipe Work:
- Plastic, copper and steel pipe cutters
- Hacksaw and junior hacksaw
- Hole saw kit
- Mole grips, to pull out rounded nuts and bolts
- Pipe and tube benders
- Pipe handle, to securely grip plastic pipes
- Pipe deburrer, to remove burrs and imperfections from cut pipe, tubing, conduit and PVC
- Vise grip pliers (other assorted pliers are handy too, including needle nose, and slip joint or water pump pliers)
- Drain rods and accessories, to unblock pipes
- Pipe press, to press copper and stainless steel pipe and get consistent, secure joints
- Ratcheting pipe threader set
- A bucket
- Flashlight and/or headlight
- Safety goggles, safety gloves, and knee pads
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- Adjustable wrenches, also sold as spanners
- Adjustable pipe wrenches
- Internal pipe wrench, to remove rusted galvanized pipes and broken threaded ends of pipe
- Telescopic basin wrench
- Torque wrench
- Faucet key
- Radiator key and radiator spanner
Plumbers Consumable Materials
Teflon tape, or thread sealing tape
2. Specialty and New Plumbing Tools
Now let’s get into specialty or technical plumbing tools and new plumbing tool advancements.
These tools can significantly improve your productivity and profitability. When shopping, look for ergonomic designs, safety features, and trusted brands.
• Plumbers snakes and augers: The plumbers snake, used to dislodge difficult clogs in drain pipes or sewers, is one of the most iconic plumbing tools. Depending on the severity of the clog, you can choose to use a handheld auger or a motorized snake machine.
• Soldering torch: A precision soldering torch will create water-tight seals on copper pipes. MAPP gas or MAPP gas substitutes are considered a safer and easier to use option than propane.
• Drain inspection camera: Plumbing technology has come a long way, and drain and sewer inspection systems are proof. Depending on what you need to see, you can choose from systems that offer high-def video, portability, self-levelling camera heads, and long-lasting batteries.
• Metal detector: A simple metal detector can make your job significantly easier when it comes to locating buried iron or steel objects, such as valve boxes, manhole covers, cast iron pipes, well casings, reinforced septic tanks and more.
• Hydro jetting machines: Hydro jetting machines are high-powered tool used by professional plumbing technicians to clear grease, sludge and soap clogged sewer lines. They use high-pressure water (as high as around 2,000-3,000 psi) to unblock debris. Look for machines from trusted brands to ensure safety and longevity.
• Flex shaft drain cleaning machines: Flex shaft high-speed drain cleaning is one of the latest plumbing innovations. The machine consists of chain knockers attached to a flexible (hence the name) cable, powered by a cordless drill. Flex shaft drain cleaning allows plumbers to clear residential and commercial pipes while keeping things fast, clean, and efficient.
• PEX plumbing tools: PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is quickly gaining popularity as a material to replace copper and PVC pipes in plumbing. Benefits include flexibility, direct routing of pipes, greater water pressure at fixtures, easier installation, and lower costs — not to mention it won’t rust or corrode. If PEX is common in your region or you want to introduce it into your service offerings, there are just a few specialty plumbing tools you’ll need, including aPEX crimper and PEX pipe expander.
3. Plumbing Business Tools
Plumbing tools go beyond wrenches and pipe cutters. If you run a plumbing business, you need tools to organize and manage service calls, track service agreements, schedule technicians, document work orders, and of course, invoice and get paid. And no, paper, clipboards, and spreadsheets can’t do all that.
The more efficient your business backend is, the more profitable you’ll be. Here is a list of tools that can help you run a more efficient, professional, and profitable plumbing business.
Field Service Management Software:
Field service management software is used by plumbing business owners and their technicians to organize and manage daily operations from the office and the field. The best options will automate your quoting and invoicing workflow, store job photos, videos, and detailed notes, help organize your appointments, keep track of client information (CRM), accept ePayments, and automate client communication.
In a nutshell, using field service software like Jobber lets you:
- Make appointment bookings easy
- Schedule jobs into your calendar
- Automate client emails and follow-up
- Create estimates and invoices
- Collect payments and track who owes you
- Manage your business from a desktop, tablet, or smartphone
- Make your small plumbing business look bigger and more professional, so you’ll attract and retain more clients.
Even if you don’t consider yourself ‘tech savvy’, field service management software can be picked up in as little as a few weeks and will save your business hours, headaches, and real money.
Best options include: Jobber
What is a CRM?
A CRM (client relationship management tool) is basically a digital Rolodex that helps you keep track of client contact information, account notes, system information, and service history. A good field service management software should offer this as a feature.
Making sure we input all of the information accurately, with the least amount of back and forth, is vital to us. When you have software that lets you literally track everything on the job, you’re not going to miss a thing.
Electronic payments help you collect money quickly on and off the job site, so you can improve your cash flow and spend less time chasing clients. A good ePayment system will allow you to vault you client’s credit card and easily charge them again down the line with their approval. It should also integrate with your quote and invoice workflow to improve efficiencies, view payments made, and track who owes you money.
Accounting is absolutely necessary for any business owner. You need to balance the books, pay overhead, and cover salaries in an organized, clear, and succinct way. There are plenty of accounting options out there (even spreadsheets work for some) but if your accounting system doesn’t sync with your field service management software, you might accidentally miss important details that could cost your down the line.
Best options include: Quickbooks Online
Review Automation Software
Positive online reviews are the cheapest, most reliable, and most effective way to grow your plumbing business. Successful plumbers we spoke with indicated that reviews and referrals account for at least 90% of their customer base! Plus, 52% of consumers would be deterred from using a small home service business if they had poor online ratings. Review automation software makes gathering those reviews as simple as possible and gives your clients a great experience so they’ll be happy to do it.
What are your favourite plumbing tools?
Plumbing is a fast-changing industry, with new tools, technology, and industry trends surfacing every year.
What tools do you rely on every day? What new plumbing tools do you have your eyes on? Let us know in the comments below.