Can You Identify This Plumbing Equipment?

By: Ian Fortey

Can You Identify This Plumbing Equipment?
Image: Kacey Klonsky/Image Source/gettyimages

About This Quiz

Plumbing has had a pretty long history in the world — ancient civilizations like the Romans, the Chinese and the Persians all came up with various forms of public bathhouses and facilities that required clean water coming in and dirty water going out.  Someone had to learn the best ways to do both and those people would become the earliest kinds of plumbers.  It's probably been a dirty and rather thankless job since day one, but it's also been a very necessary and important one.  Clean water is something we take for granted, but it's a cornerstone of civilization.

Nowadays things are a lot easier than they used to be. A plumber has a lot more knowledge of how things work and the best way to ensure that your toilet flushes and your shower's nice and hot.  They need a lot of equipment to make sure that works though, especially when you consider just how much a plumber truly does.  They can install your sink, prevent the basement from flooding, connect you to the main city water supply and make sure your dishwasher drains correctly.  Each job has its own tools, some more common than others.  If you think you'd know them all based on just a picture, why not take the quiz and see?

Solder What do you call this metal alloy used to help bond pipes together?
Solder
Solder is usually found in coils and looks like a rather thick wire, though it does come in varying thicknesses. Plumbers will most often use solder when joining something like copper pipe. You prepare the pipe, put on the fitting to be soldered then heat the pipe with a torch and melt the solder in place.
Flux
Pipe sealant
Plumber's putty

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P-Trap You'll find this right under a sink like the one in the kitchen. What is it?
Flex joint
Ball valve
P-trap
A P-trap needs to be installed on any fixture, such as a sink, connected to the sewer line. The trap holds a small amount of water which prevents sewer gases from backing up into your home and stinking up the joint.
Sump pump

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Flapper Valve What do you call this thing that creates a watertight seal in your toilet?
Flapper valve
When you push the handle to flush a toilet, a small chain will raise the flapper valve. The water in the tank then drains down the pipe into the toilet using gravity to flush everything away. The valve falls back into place and the tank then refills. Easy peasy.
Toilet flange
Toilet float
Ball valve

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Pipe Insulation Afraid of pipes freezing? You should use this stuff then. What is it?
Pipe sealant
Pipe insulation
Pipe insulation is a pretty straightforward item that obviously makes sense when you consider how much cold your pipes can be exposed to. The insulation will help keep pipes from freezing, and also prevents heat loss in warm water pipes.
Flux
Oakum

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Pipe Threader You need this if you want to screw a fitting onto a galvanized pipe. What do you call this tool?
Pipe threader
A pipe threader is what you need when you want to thread a pipe, which is to say cut grooves into one end so that you can screw a fitting of some kind onto it. This is for steel pipe, as copper or PVC don't need to be threaded and couldn't stand up to the tool cutting the threads, either.
Pipe cutter
Spanner
Flex connector

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Oakum This fiber is made out of hemp, but do you know the name for it?
Solder
Flux
Oakum
Oakum is a hemp product used when sealing cast iron pipes. When a pipe is put into a fitting, you pack the edges with oakum as tight as possible, then pour in molten lead to finish the seal. Water makes the oak swell to fill the gaps and tar on the oakum prevents rotting.
Flushing

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Strap Wrench What's the name of this tool which is useful when you don't want to scratch things?
Slip-nut wrench
Flex connector
Belt tool
Strap wrench
Many strap wrenches have built-in handles. Others are made to receive the square drive of a ratchet wrench. A strap wrench is a useful tool when you need a wrench but also don't want the harsh teeth of something like a pipe wrench damaging a soft metal or plastic. The strap wrench will simply wrap around and tighten without actually digging in.

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Cast Iron This heavy pipe used to be used for pretty much everything. What do you call it?
PVC
ABS
Cast iron
Cast Iron pipe was once the go-to pipe for all plumbing. Water, gas, and sewage could all be transmitted via cast iron. It has fallen out of favor in modern times thanks to the fact its heavy and relatively expensive compared to things like PVC or ABS, which also last longer.
PXE

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Plunger You should always have one of these in your bathroom. What name does it go by?
Plunger
A plunger is arguably the most easily recognizable plumbing tool in the world as most homeowners have one. They use suction force to clear clogs in drains. Ideally, you should have one for a toilet and one for other drains, as they have slightly different designs.
Auger
Sump pump
Back valve

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Hose Clamp What do you call this little item that prevents water from leaking everywhere?
Hose clamp
A hose clamp is a useful tool for attaching a hose to any fitting. Once the hose is fit over the end o the fitting, the bolt on the side of the clamp can be ratcheted until the clamp is tight enough to create a waterproof seal.
Bushing
Flex connector
Slip nut

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Reducing Connector What's the name of this little item you'll need when you want to make a larger pipe work with a smaller pipe?
Downgrader
Minimizing flange
Reducing connector
A reducing connector is used to fit two different sizes of pipes together. You just need to get a connector that matches your two sizes and connect your differing pipes to their respective sides of the connector. These should not be used often on drain pipes unless you're sizing up, rather than down.
Mechanical joint

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Galvanized Steel Pipe These pipes were a popular replacement for lead pipes in homes back in the day. What are they?
Galvanized steel pipe
Galvanized steel pipes used to be found in nearly every home in America. They were widely used to replace toxic lead pipes to carry water into a home but now are also being phased out since they contained lead or could have trapped lead if they were connected to lead pipes.
Cast iron pipe
PEX pipe
ABS pipe

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Hacksaw What's the name of this tool that'll help you cut through some problems?
Sawzall
Reciprocating saw
Circular saw
Hacksaw
A hacksaw is a simple but very important tool for any plumber. The need to cut through anything from plastic pipe to wood will come up frequently and a hacksaw is a quick and easy way to get the job done.

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Sump Pump When you have water accumulating in the basement, having one of these installed is a great way to get rid of it. What do you call this device?
Weeping tile
Float valve
Backwater valve
Sump pump
A sump pump is usually installed in a sump basin, which is below the floor in a basement. If your home has a tendency to flood, this is an invaluable device that will start pumping the water outside, a safe distance from the home, in the event water starts backing up.

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Weeping Tile What's the name of this porous exterior pipe?
Backwater valve
Weeping tile
Weeping tile is also called perimeter tile and drain tile. It's a plastic pipe with small slots cut into it that is installed below the ground around the outside of a house and buried under something like small rocks. The rocks allow water to filter into the pipe where it drains away from the foundation.
PEX pipe
Flex supply

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Silcock Key This device will help you turn on almost any faucet. Do you know the name of it?
Needle nose pliers
Cartridge puller
Silcock key
A Silcock key is an extremely handy device for any plumber. If you've ever seen an outdoor faucet on a building that has no handle, this is what you'd use to turn it on. The 4-sided key should fit onto any faucet and allow you to turn it on.
Pipe threader

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Flux What do you call this substance that you need to use before soldering a pipe?
Flux
Flux is a key component to soldering copper pipe. Once the pipe is clean, the flux is applied. As it's heated, it will draw in the solder to fill the joint and keep the pipe clean as solder fills in the gaps, then cools and bonds the whole thing together.
Teflon tape
Putty
Pipe sealant

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Tape measure You can figure out the dimensions of just about anything in the house with this item. Tell us what it's called.
Tape measure
Everyone who does any kind of construction work likely has a tape measure in their toolbox since knowing the measurements of what you're doing is necessary at all times. In plumbing, you need to know pipe lengths, distances from walls and so much more.
Yard stick
Teflon tape
Spanner

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Pipe Wrench This is one of the most iconic tools a plumber can use. Do you recognize it?
Basin wrench
Pipe bender
Pipe wrench
The classic pipe wrench is a tool necessary for any plumber. It's heftier than your average wrench because large pipes with large fittings require a bit of extra torque when you're trying to either loosen or tighten them.
Faucet seat wrench

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Torch You can't solder anything without having this tool handy. What's the name of it?
Brazing iron
Torch
Some kind of torch, whether a full acetylene torch or a smaller unit, is necessary to heat up your pipes so they're able to be soldered properly. This is by far one of the most dangerous items a plumber will ever use at work.
Flex connector
Oakum

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Backwater Valve This device can be installed in your drain to stop flooding. What is it?
Weeping tile
Ball valve
Sump pump
Backwater valve
A backwater valve can be installed on the drain line of your home and it works as a backflow prevention device. Water can drain from your house normally but if water starts coming back up the line, the valve shuts and that prevents flooding.

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Pipe Cutter If your copper pipe is too long, this tool can get it to the right size pretty quickly. Do you know what it's called?
Silicock key
Reducing connector
Pipe cutter
A pipe cutter is a simple but very handy tool for cutting copper pipe down to size. You place the cutter over the pipe and tighten it in place, then simply spin it around the pipe as the cutting blade digs in. As you continue to tighten, the blade digs deeper until you get a clean cut all the way around.
Cartridge puller

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Teflon Tape This allows you to more easily tighten a pipe while ensuring a better seal as well. What name is it known by?
Putty
Teflon tape
Teflon tape, also called thread seal tape, is a plastic tape that is wrapped around the threads of a pipe before you screw it into a fitting. The tape functions as a kind of lubricant to make it easier to tighten the pipe in place, and also helps seal it more tightly.
Flux
Solder

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PVC What's the name of this extremely common kind of pipe?
Copper
PVC
PVC or polyvinyl chloride pipe is arguably the most common kind of pipe in the world at this point as it replaces many older and more dangerous types of metal piping. PVC is white or cream colored and can be easily sealed with glue. It works for water supply or drainage.
Cast iron
Galvanized

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Drill What is this tool that you're going to need if you want to run a pipe through a wall?
Drill
Pipes can run all over a building and sometimes you need nothing more than a pipe-sized hole to get through a wall to run it from one room to another. You can cut that hole with a drill and a hole-cutting bit.
Cartridge puller
Tube cutter
Hose clamp

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Snake What do you call this tool that you might bust out if a plunger can't do the job?
Toilet flapper
Basin wrench
Snake
A plumber's snake is a kind of auger that you need for especially difficult clogs. If a plunger can't fix it, the long, wire-like snake can be put down the drain and rotated to force the clog loose.
Flush valve

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Slip-Nut Wrench This tool is handy for loosening large, thin nuts. Do you know the name of it, though?
Slip-nut wrench
A slip-nut wrench is an extremely thin little wrench but it needs to be for the job it does. For instance, if you want to remove the flush valve from the tank of your toilet, there's a very thin space in there to separate the two, but this wrench can fit right in there.
Basin wrench
Faucet seat wrench
Pop-up plug wrench

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Putty Tell us the name of this substance that's used to make watertight seals around pipes and drains.
Solder
Flux
Putty
Plumber's putty isn't particularly complex substance, it's often clay-based with a bit of oil in it. When you're replacing fixtures, sealing the drains or joints with putty will help ensure they all stay watertight and leak-free.
Teflon tape

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Copper Pipe This kind of pipe is often used to transport drinking water. What is it?
Cast iron pipe
PEX pipe
ABS pipe
Copper pipe
Copper pipe and copper tubing are used for water supply in many modern homes. It's also used for cooling lines in fridges and air conditioners. Copper is much safer to use than a metal like lead, though the type of solder used can be a concern.

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Cartridge Puller This tool can help you remove the cartridge from your shower faucet. What's it called?
Faucet seat wrench
Pipe wrench
Cartridge puller
Behind your tub or shower faucet in the wall is a cartridge that can freeze up on you sometimes and cause the faucet to not work or leak. The cartridge puller makes it come out safely without damaging the other pieces around it.
Strap wrench

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Toilet Connector What do you call this length of flexible piping?
Toilet connector
The toilet connector is a length of braided stainless steel tubing that connects the copper water supply to your toilet. It's very pliable which makes it good for connecting to the toilet at an odd and awkward angle that rigid pipes couldn't manage.
Reducing connector
Hose clamps
Hanger strap

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Sledgehammer This massive tool doesn't have a lot of finesse. What is it?
Pipe wrench
Sledgehammer
A sledgehammer isn't the kind of tool a plumber needs to use all the time, but it can be important in certain cases. For instance, if there's a leak behind a brick or concrete wall, a sledgehammer may be the only way to get in.
Hacksaw
Jackhammer

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Pipe Bender What is the name of this medieval looking tool?
Cartridge puller
Hose clamp
Pipe threader
Pipe bender
A pipe bender or tube bender is used to bender copper pipe to an angle without having to cut the pipe and use fittings and joints to create the desired angle in the pipe's direction, the way you'd have to with more rigid materials like galvanized steel.

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Gaskets These common little items help make waterproof seals between pipes and fittings inside them. What are they?
Bolts
Gaskets
Gaskets, sometimes called washers, are used to help join a pipe to a fitting of some kind in order to keep it waterproof. Without a gasket in your showerhead, for instance, it would likely leak everywhere when the water was flowing due to tiny gaps in the imperfect seal.
Flanges
Toilet flappers

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Goggles What is the name of this safety equipment that plumbers should have handy when they need it?
Face mask
Shield
Monocle
Goggles
You may not see a plumber wearing goggles that often, but they do need them. From using tools to cut pipe or wood which could shoot up dangerous debris to having to fully enter a large septic tank, there's a definite need for eye safety on the job.

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Waterproofing Membrane This liquid can be applied to a basement or foundation wall. What's it called?
Waterproofing membrane
There are a couple of kinds of waterproofing membrane that can seal a wall and make it watertight. Elastomeric membranes are usually sprayed on from the outside, while a bituminous membrane can be rolled on inside and supported with a fiberglass webbing.
Tar
Flexseal
Flux

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