Can You Identify All Of These Plumbing Tools?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Ok, so you're not a plumber, but can you identify the tools of the plumbing trade? Take this quiz to find out.

Even if you're not a professional plumber, you've probably had to do a bit of DIY plumbing repair from time to time. After all, sometimes just giggling the handle on the toilet just isn't enough. If you've got to do a quick plumbing repair, knowing which tool to use is critical to getting the job done fast and right. You might know a wrench from a hammer, but do you know these common plumbing tools?

Although most plumbing repairs are pretty basic and use basic tools, some other repairs can be quite complicated, calling for more specialized tools. For instance, do you know what an auger is? It's a specialized tool used by plumbers to clear drains. There are augers for kitchen and bathroom drains, augers for toilets, and even super duper augers for sewer lines. Many homeowners include a basic hand auger in their arsenal of DIY plumbing tools, but if you need something bigger, you might be able to rent one at your local hardware store.

How well do you think you know these plumbing tools? Let's find out.

A pipe cutter (also written as pipecutter) is a hand tool used to cut pipes and tubing. Depending on the type of material that makes the pipe, a pipe cutter can produce a faster and cleaner cut than would be achieved with a hacksaw.

A plunger has a large rubber suction cup affixed to a wood handle. It is used to clean minor obstructions from plumbing traps. Common types of plungers are the sink plunger and the toilet plunger.

Safety Goggles protect the eyes and the area immediately surrounding them from injury due to splashing liquid, airborne dust, acid vapor and impact hazards. In terms of the impact resistance of their lenses and frames, safety goggles must conform to higher standards than those set for regular glasses.

A plug is a type of pipe fitting with a projecting head and outer threading. Its basic use is to close the opening in another pipe fitting.

A trowel is a very versatile tool which can be used for digging, removing small quantities of material, applying material, and smoothing a surface. The typical trowel has a flat, triangular blade, but the rectangular-bladed float is one type of trowel that is also quite common.

These manual saws come in a variety of sizes and are useful for cutting various types of materials. Plumbers working in small spaces may find a wire hand saw more convenient to use. Instead of a solid blade, it cuts using a metal wire or cable.

Also written as “sledgehammer," it is a large, heavy hammer with two, wide striking faces. The typical sledge hammer is swung with both hands, but the small and short-handled drilling or Thor hammer can be used singlehandedly.

These strong tools are made for cutting sheet metal and are among the most common types of shears. They typically have extra-wide jaws, short blades, a blunt nose and long handles.

Most socket sets come with a ratcheting socket wrench (often simply called a ratchet) and various size sockets which can be used with it. They are used for tightening and loosening nuts and bolts.

Step ladders are hinged in the middle, forming an inverted “V”. They remain at the set angle, thanks to the internal supporting frame incorporated in their design.

Also called a torch, the flashlight was first patented in 1899. Within a few decades, the design was refined in terms of the light source and the batteries used. Flashlights then became popular (and essential) tools.

A hole or crown saw is used for drilling round holes into many different types of materials, including wood, plastic, metal, concrete and glass. A hole saw kit will typically have blades of varying sizes, along with one or more arbors.

An adjustable wrench, or adjustable spanner, has a jaw that can be widened or narrowed to snugly fit the heads of different sized nuts and bolts. The monkey wrench is one type of adjustable wrench.

As their name suggests, needle-nose pliers have long thin jaws. They are ideal for working in tight spaces and can be used for both cutting and holding.

Called a spirit level, in full, this tool consists of small tubes of liquid (usually alcohol) with a bubble in each one. When the tool rests along a surface, the position of the bubbles indicates whether the surface is horizontally level. For vertical surfaces, the term used is “plumb.”

The jaws of these general-purpose pliers are designed for both gripping and cutting. They are typically used to snip light-gauge wire

The peen of a hammer refers to either end of its head. Hence, the name ball-peen hammer refers to a hammer in which one end is hemispherical (or ball-shaped).

Tape measures used by plumbers are often like those used in carpentry. They are made of flexible metal, which is stiff when extended, but can be retracted into a coil for storage.

The multi-tip or multi-bit screwdriver is designed to use interchangeable tips or bits on a sturdy handle. The handle also provides storage space for the tips that are not being used.

Vise-Grip is the brand name of the first set of locking pliers ever invented (in 1924) and it has taken on generic use among tradesmen. Locking pliers are usually locked into position by use of a screw located in one handle.

Some screws and bolts are made with a hexagonal recess in their heads and are fastened or loosened using an Allen key. The generic name is actually “hex key,” with “Allen” being the name of the most popular brand.

Although the terms “spade” and “shovel” are used interchangeably by most people, technically speaking, they represent two distinct groups of tools. The shovel’s blade is more angled to the handle. Shovels are used for scooping up and moving materials, while spades are designed for digging.

Working with the proper gloves provides protection from harsh chemicals, intense temperatures, electrical shock, sharp edges and infectious agents. There are safety standards which govern the type of protective work gloves which workers should use under specific conditions.

Sometimes written as one word (earplugs), these simple devices go a long way in protecting the wearer’s ears from loud noises and the entry of water, dust, wind and other foreign bodies. Ear plugs of various designs have been in use since ancient times.

One end of the head on this hammer has a hardened face used for driving nails. The other end is shaped into curved, forked tines (resembling claws) for pulling out nails or similar objects.

Traditionally, hacksaws are made for cutting metal but they are also used on other materials, such as wood and plastic. They consist of a narrow, fine-toothed disposable blade in a C-shaped frame. Although hacksaws are normally hand saws, there are powered versions.

Stubby screwdrivers get their name from the fact that they have a short, fat handle along with a short, metal shaft. They are very useful in spaces that a longer, regular screwdriver cannot access.

A PO wrench is used for removal of pop-up or pop-out (PO) plugs from the drain opening in a basin. The easily recognizable four-way shape means that the PO wrench can be used on a variety of strainer types.

Wood chisels come is a range of sizes. The bigger ones are used for removing large chunks of material while the smaller ones are ideal for detailing.

The term “flat file” is used to distinguish it from other types of files, including round, square and triangle files. Flat files may be single-cut, but most tend to be double-cut with a diamond pattern.

Englishman Ambrose Godfrey patented the very first fire extinguisher in 1723. Today’s fire extinguishers are designed to combat one or more of the four classes of fires.

This steel chisel has a tempered edge and is used for cutting cold steel. The common types of cold chisel are the flat, cross cut, round nose and diamond point chisels.

A crow bar is made of steel with one flattened end and the other end curved and clawed. The flat end is useful as a lever while the curved and clawed end is for pulling nails.

Caulking is a resilient silicone-based or rubber-based sealant compound. It is used to prevent entry of water and air. The process of applying caulking is also called caulking and is typically done with a hand or power tool (a caulking gun) that pushes out the sealant through a nozzle.

A taping knife, also called a joint knife, is a type of drywall finish tool. They are square-cornered and tend to range in width from 4 inches to 2 feet.

The box cutter is a type of utility knife. It has a short, sharp, retractable blade and is sometime described as a razor-blade knife.

Wire strippers are small, hand-held devices with notched jaws. Their basic use is to strip insulation from around electrical wiring.

This tool is often referred to as a washer and gasket cutter. It is used to create washers and gaskets out of soft materials, such as copper, cork, fiber, graphite, leather and rubber.

Pipe extractors make it easy for you to remove broken threaded ends of pipe and pipe plugs. There are times when the fitting to be extracted has a solid end and must be drilled in order to accommodate the pipe extractor.

A torch head can be a very useful tool for a plumber to have. Two common types are the welding torch head and the cutting torch head.

As their name suggests, round files (also called rat tail files) are circular in cross-section and they generally have a gradual taper from tip to tang. The half-round file has one curved side and one flat side.

PEX crimpers work by compressing a copper ring around PEX tubing and fitting. There is also a de-crimping tool to easily remove the copper crimp ring without damaging the fitting.

To flare a tube means to widen it slightly at the end in a kind of bell shape. This is done to get a better connection between the flared tube and another section of tubing.

The spud wrench acts like two tools in one. One end is a regular open-ended wrench and the other is a tapered handle used to help with lining up bolt holes.

A soil pipe cutter is a fast and easy way to cut cast iron, clay and small diameter concrete pipes. The cutter may be manual and some feature a ratchet mechanism. There are also hydraulic soil pipe cutters.

The basin wrench is used to loosen the nuts holding the faucet onto the sink. Its effectiveness is increased by a telescopic handle that allows the wrench to be used in the tightest of locations.

This type of lighter is used to safely ignite a gaseous fuel in order to get a flame started. They are commonly used with acetylene, cutting and welding torches.

A pipe bending spring is either inserted into or fitted over the pipe that is to be bent. The spring does not do the bending but it allows the pipe to be bent by you without becoming distorted or creased.

Screwdrivers may be manual or powered and are used for both inserting and removing screws. The usual design consists of a handle, a shaft and a tip which is either flattened or cross-shaped to fit into the head of a screw and turn it.

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