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How well do you know these five plumber's tools?

You probably already know that plumbers use a lot of tools on a daily basis. You probably even own a few of these tools yourself, but how well do you know plumbing tools in general? Take a few minutes to see how many of the following five plumbing tools you can name and describe what they are used for.

Pipe Grips

This first tool is a classic plumber's tool that most people think of when they visualise a plumber at work. Sometimes called tongue-and-groove pliers, pipe grips are especially important to plumbers when removing and installing metal pipes. In addition, they can be used to manipulate a wide variety of other components, including nuts, sleeves and spuds.

Pipe grips are equipped with a lower, movable jaw that can grab hold of pipes and hang on tight when necessary. Specialised models include those with softer jaws, such as those made from brass, and may have smooth gripping surfaces to minimise damage.

In addition, if you are working with a soft material that can be easily damaged by the jaws of the pliers, you will want to wrap the jaws with cloth tape or some other protective material.

Closet Auger

If you have a severely blocked toilet, the closet auger is another important plumbing tool you can't afford to ignore. A closet auger is a smaller, shorter version of the popular plumber's snake, and it performs the same role, busting through clogs.

However, unlike a full-blown plumber's snake, they are mostly hand-powered. In addition, closet augers are attached to a special mount that enables users to easily push the end of the tool into the toilet's trap.

Once the head of the auger is inside the trap, the user then manipulates the head and rotates it using a hand-crank. Provided all goes well, the closet auger will bust through the blockage and return the toilet back to service.

Basin Spanner

The working space beneath a kitchen or bathroom sink can be tight, and this makes removing or installing taps a challenging task. That's why basin spanners are worth their weight in gold.

A basin spanner is a specialised tool with a long shaft and a set of spring-loaded jaws at one end. At the opposite end, a t-shaped handle provides leverage for the plumber who needs to use it.

To use a basin spanner, the user manipulates the jaws until they are wrapped around the nut that holds the faucet in place. Next, the shaft is turned using the t-shaped handle to loosen or tighten the nut.

Plastic Pipe Shear

Another specialised plumbing tool that makes quick work of PVC and other plastic pipes is a plastic pipe shear. This tool is essential for quickly and easily cutting through plastic piping and leaves clean edges for fast and easy fitting.

A ratcheting action enables the tool to easily penetrate plastic pipe without excessive straining or force on the part of the plumber. Plastic pipe shears depend on sharp blades to perform clean cuts, so dull blades should be replaced or sharpened.

Pipe and Tubing Cutter

A pair of plastic pipe cutters are great for PVC and similar materials, but plumbers use another tool to cut through copper, brass and other types of metal pipes and tubing. A pipe and tubing cutter is wrapped around the pipe or tubing to be cut and is rotated while its cutting blade is simultaneously tightened.

As the tool is wrapped around the pipe or tubing, the blade cuts deeper into the material until it eventually is cut through all the way. The use of a pipe and tubing cutter requires skill to prevent crushing the pipe, especially with soft materials like copper, and to make an even, deeper cut as the blade rotates around the pipe.