Wrenches, What are wrenches, Types of wrenches

Wrenches speaks to what are wrenches, types of wrenches and why use wrenches.

Pipe wrenches are by far the most important hand tool when plumbing. Having angled teeth, they can grab round objects like pipe, nipples and galvanized couplings.

They come in different sizes, in 2 inch increments from 6 inches to 18 inches and up. It is suggested that you have a full range of sizes but if not you will need one small, 6 inches, one medium, 12 inches and one large, 18 inches. It is suggested that you have two of each size. Modern pip wrenches come in aluminum as well as steel and both may have angled heads.

The larger the wrench, the greater the leverage and the easier the work.

The common steel pipe wrench has a jaw 90 degrees to the handle. However, special pipe wrenches perform specific plumbing tasks more effective than a 90 degree wrench.

Remember always use a back-up wrench with each engaged in opposite directions, when turning fittings on any kind of threaded pipe.


The jaws are spring loaded and won’t easily slip off a pipe.

It may have steel jaws and an aluminum handle which makes sure this wrench is light but is more expensive.

The jaws may be offset about 45 degrees allowing this wrench to be turned in tight locations.

Another specialty wrench has its handle set in line with the jaws.

Adjustable wrenches

Adjustable wrenches turn flat sided objects. They are available in three sizes, small, medium and large and can replace a whole collection of box end wrenches. To avoid rounding a nut, always tighten the jaws firmly before applying torque. Adjustable wrenches with wide handles are easy on the hands than those with narrow handles.

Hex,Torx and Star Wrenches

Some wrenches come in specific profiles for loosening screws, cap screws and some socket nuts. You will use hex, Torq and star wrenches to remove faucet handles and for other repairs.

They come L shaped or with T handles and also in folding sets. Get a folding set of each style as the housing keeps everything in one place and functions as the handle.

Socket Wrenches

Socket wrenches encase the entire circumference of a bolt or plumbing fixture and allows more torque to be applied without stripping or rounding the faces. They are especially useful for removing rusted elements, anode rods and other tasks for which extra muscle is needed to break a fastener loose. It is suggested you have a full set of socket wrenches.


Pliers are also used to grip things like pipes, nuts, rods and faucet parts. They also turn, bend and press objects together. Pliers come in three categories, fixed pivot like needle nose pliers, movable pivot, like tongue and grooved pliers, and those that lock on an object when you apply increased pressure, known as locking pliers.

It is suggested that you have at least one slip joint pliers, one needle nose model, two tongue and groove pliers and medium sized locking pliers to do most plumbing jobs.









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