10 tools every plumber needs

13 September 2019 Kingspan Water & Energy

As a plumber, you’ve probably already got a tool bag full of kit you rely on every day.

You’ve got to have the right tools for the job, and sometimes that might mean an upgrade or even a new plumbing tool. It’s the installer equivalent of a new pencil case for the school year! Whether you require a sturdy backpack, some time-saving tech or simply want to refresh your essentials, here’s our pick of some new and not-so-new plumber tools that will take your business up a gear.
1. Tool bag
There are lots of different plumber tool bags on the market so it’s worth doing some research to find out which one suits your needs. You can get ones on wheels, but also smaller, compact versions that can be carried on your shoulders like a school backpack. Look for multiple pockets designed to fit specific tools and padded sections for electronic devices. Keeping your tools organised will protect them from damage and make them easier to find in a hurry.
If you prefer a traditional toolbox then check out vanvault.co.uk as they have loads of new products with full-on security features. Their new VaultLock system can’t be drilled, picked or cut and the box can be mounted to your van floor to make it extra secure.
2. Adjustable spanners
You’ll use these every single day as a busy plumber. The Bahco brand is often considered the best quality and can withstand water damage – always handy J. Buy a range of wide and narrow heads and you’ll be all set for turning any nut or bolt that comes your way.
3. Spirit level
Don’t get caught out without this simple tool. A magnetic spirit level means you can work hands-free on metal surfaces and some can even be used on rounded surfaces too. Making sure your installation is straight only takes a few minutes but it proves you’re the ultimate pro. No-one wants a customer complaining about a wonky radiator, after all.
4. Knife
Having a heavy-duty blade makes life easier when it comes to cutting pipes and plasterboard. Hultafors have a specific knife for professional plumbers which comes with a file to remove pesky burrs on pipes. They also recently launched some snap-off knives which are ergonomically designed for precision work and general use. You can even mount the blade in both directions, making it perfect if you’re a lefty!
5. Work gloves
If you’re using knives, handling pipes and the like, safety gloves are an essential purchase for plumbers. You might need to pick up a few options depending on the task at hand – for example you should always have specialist gloves for handing chemicals.
6. Rotary hammer
The new tool on the block is the 18-volt rotary hammer from Bosch, which is, apparently, the first powerful cordless rotary hammer with a D-handle! This handy piece of kit is guaranteed to be just as powerful as the corded equivalent and makes for more efficient drilling, hammer drilling and chiselling. The D-handle allows you to drill and chisel in awkward positions for longer, which – let’s face it – is something installers come across a lot!
7. Thermal imaging camera                                                                                                                            
The new kid in class is the FLIR ONE Pro, a thermal imaging camera that links up to a smartphone app to allow you to capture data and identify all those issues you can’t see. Thermal imaging detects any kind of heat source – moisture, pipes, air leakage, electrics, the lot. The FLIRONE Pro (catchy name!) is a tough piece of kit as well – it definitely looks the part, and according to the manufacturers, it’s built to withstand a drop from up to 1.8 metres.
8. Kneepads
Because pipes are rarely as accessible as you’d like, you’re likely to spend a fair amount of your working day on your knees. Work trousers often come with built-in kneepads, or if you’re going old school then a kneeling mat or separate knee pads will do the trick.
9. Charging capabilities
Running out of juice when you're midway through a job will cost you time and money if you’re not prepared. Make sure you have multiple back-up batteries ready to go and always buy brand batteries instead of cheap alternatives. You will need at least one charging station plugged into your van but we’d always recommend two!
10. Work shoes
When it comes to PPE for plumbers, a good pair of sturdy boots are an absolute necessity. If you work outside then invest in a good waterproof pair, and go for a steel toe to EN345. In our view, a slip-resistant sole is also essential to help keep you safe.
That sums up just a few of our old school and new school plumbing tool favourites. There’s no way you’ll be at the back of the class with this lot!