Standard wrenches are useful when tackling various jobs around the home and yard, but they’re less helpful for plumbing repairs, because water pipes have no flat edges for these wrenches to grip. Pipe wrenches have serrated jaws designed specifically for this task. They bite into a pipe’s metal surface to provide the secure hold needed. What’s more, their long handles provide the torque necessary to loosen stubborn fittings.
Pipe wrenches are often used in pairs, and you can find at least a couple in every professional plumber’s tool kit. At first glance, it can be hard to tell one pipe wrench from another, but closer inspection reveals a range of sizes, materials, and small details that have a big impact on performance and value. Choosing the best pipe wrenches for your plumbing repairs isn’t quite the straightforward task it may seem.
Before you shop for pipe wrenches, do a little research. This article provides not just a list of the best pipe wrenches for your plumbing repairs but also a showcase of the variety of tools available. Learn why one pipe wrench is often better than another for the most common plumbing repairs.
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Pipe wrenches are generally classified by length, because the amount of space available to work in has a lot to do with which wrench to choose to use for a repair. To choose the top pipe wrench for plumbing repairs, consider materials, weight, and suitability for that particular plumbing task.
RIDGID’s 14-inch aluminum pipe wrench is the ideal general-purpose plumbing tool. It’s long enough to provide good leverage but still short enough to get into cabinets and other close quarters where plumbing fittings are located. Its jaws are designed to fit pipes of ½-inch to 1½ inches in diameter, which covers all the standard plumbing found in your home.
Traditional pipe wrenches have iron or steel handles. They are incredibly strong, but also very heavy. The RIDGID Model 814 is made of cast aluminum, which is 40 percent lighter when compared to others of its size. Thanks to its I-beam construction, though, it’s equally strong.
The one downside of RIDGID pipe wrenches is that they come at a premium price, and this model is no exception.
Almost all modern pipe wrenches are based on the Stillson wrench that was patented in 1869. If that original were compared to Tradespro’s 14-inch wrench, few differences are discernible. It’s basic but efficient, and it does the job it was designed for with minimal fuss.
The Tradespro model is made from drop-forged steel, which means it’s hammered into shape under tremendous pressure while the metal is still molten, which makes it incredibly strong. The wrench is then heat treated to improve durability. Its machining teeth and adjusting thread have excellent wear-resistance. Pipe capacity is from ½ inch to 2 inches.
The Tradespro isn’t made with the same precision as its high-quality competitors, but it costs a fraction of the price.
The Goplus four-piece pipe wrench set delivers all-round versatility. Although these wrenches are primarily plumbing tools, their inherent strength and long handles mean they also can be used on heavy-duty nuts and bolts and metal bars of all shapes and diameters. They’re often found in a mechanic’s tool kit, especially those who work on large trucks and semis.
The Goplus pipe wrench set includes tools from 8 to 18 inches in length and maximum jaw openings from 1½ to 3⅛ inches. Each tool is made from durable drop-forged steel. The wrenches’ handles are wrapped in plastic sheaths that provide extra grip and better comfort for your hands, particularly when working outside.
At times, plumbing fittings can be particularly difficult and frustrating to access. A small pipe wrench might fit in the gap, but it may not provide enough leverage. In situations like this, a chain wrench such as this Crescent 24-inch can prove invaluable. The Crescent 24-inch chain wrench can tackle pipes up to 4 inches in diameter. It’s chrome plated, and it wipes clean after use.
As with all pipe wrenches, this wrench’s jaws will mark the surfaces they grip, so don’t use it on decorative surfaces.
The 8-inch Bionic Grip from LoggerHead can tackle pipework from 1/4 inch to 9/16 inch, and it’s equally useful on nuts, bolts, and any other fitting within that range.
Users don’t have to adjust this wrench like an ordinary pipe wrench. Slot the C-shaped head over the item to be gripped, then squeeze the rubberized handles together. As you do so, four serrated jaws extend and take a firm hold of the object. Simply twist to loosen or tighten the jaws.
The Bionic Grip is made of laminated steel plates, so it’s light but strong. It doesn’t produce the same torque as a long-handled pipe wrench, but that type of tool won’t fit in every space. This wrench can be used for dozens of other household uses.
When the subject of plumbing comes up, most people think of the pipes that carry water, but the same term also applies to oil, gas, or sewage pipelines. Those kinds of installations invariably have larger diameters, which is when the Performance Tool 48-inch pipe wrench comes into its own.
This tool’s precision-ground, drop-forged steel jaws provide reliable grip. (Its maximum jaw capacity is quoted as 6 inches, but in practical terms, it’s closer to 5½ inches.) Because the wrench is 4 feet long, its handle can produce extra leverage to release the most stubborn of fittings. It’s a bit of a monster, but it’s still manageable. And because it’s made from cast aluminum, it weighs just under 14 pounds.
Unlike a standard design, this offset pipe wrench has jaws that are turned 90 degrees. This angle makes it ideal for working overhead. It also can be useful when reach is difficult or when obstructions make the use of an ordinary pipe wrench impossible. These kinds of awkward scenarios aren’t common, and an offset pipe wrench may only be found in the tool kit of a professional plumber.
The RIDGID Model 24 has an aluminum handle that reduces its weight, along with forged steel jaws for maximum grip and durability.