No one wants to pay rent forever. We all want to own a home at some point. But having a home comes with some responsibilities that no one tells you about. As a homeowner, some days you will wake up to a leaking kitchen or bathroom faucet, and other days it is a clogged bathtub or any other plumbing issue you can think of. For instance, the number of times I have had to fix a running toilet or replace a broken plumbing fitting is countless. These are the unwritten responsibilities you only learn about through experience.
While it is best to hire a professional contractor to do the home repairs for you, it is not always possible. Professional labor is expensive, especially when it comes to home improvement and repairs. So, you might not be in a position to pay for it every time. But one thing for sure is that you must fix the broken faucet, replace the broken plumbing fitting, or unclog the drain. So what do you do?
The best way to deal with some of these simple home repairs is to fix them yourself. Not only will you save on cost and reduce your homeowner’s budget but you will be delighted you did it. But it is not possible to become an expert overnight. It takes a lot of learning, great practice, and having the right tools to grow from an amateur to an expert DIYer. So don’t be surprised when you start by breaking things and making them worse. It is the starting point for most of us.
So where do you start?
The best starting point for anyone who wants to become an expert home repair DIY person is to get a set of starter tools. They can be purely hand tools or a mix of power tools and hand tools. But since tools are expensive, I would not encourage you to start with power tools and high-end hand tools. Instead, I would suggest starting with inexpensive hand tools and then gradually upgrading them. You can even upgrade hand tools you use more regularly to power tools in order to increase efficiency.
However, when it comes to pliers, you can hardly replace them with power tools. Pliers are irreplaceable hand tools. You can only upgrade your collection with better-quality pliers.
So, in this article, I share the most basic starter set of pliers for a homeowner. You will need them to do basic home repairs in your new home. If you are looking to gift a new homeowner, you can’t go wrong with this set of pliers.
Basic homeowner pliers set
1. Combination pliers/Linesman pliers
Combination pliers are the most general-purpose pliers. They have serrated jaws for gripping objects and integrated side cutters. Some even have a gripping surface behind the handles for pulling cables and fencing wire. Others have a crimper for crimping cable lugs onto electrical cables.
Some people refer to combination pliers as linesman pliers. But there are some slight differences between the two types of ordinary pliers. The major difference is that combination pliers have a curved section on the jaws for gripping round objects while Linesman pliers have straight jaws all the way to where the cutters begin. You can find out the other differences in this article so that you can decide whether you need combination pliers or linesman pliers.
But generally, if you want pliers that can grip and grab anything, then the combination pliers are the best. You can use the flat serrated section of their jaws to grip wire and flat objects while the curved gripping section is for grabbing round objects such as pipes and nuts. However, I do not recommend using combination pliers to turn nuts and bolts because you might strip them. But you can use the pliers to grab round objects. For instance, you can use combination pliers clamp on a pipe to stop it from twisting as you tighten a fitting with a wrench to fix a leaking pipe fitting.
On the other hand, if you need general-purpose pliers that are heftier with larger and stronger cutters for cutting wire, then Linesman pliers are the best. They are good for electrical works. That is why they are Linesmen’s favorite pliers, hence the name.
Some linemans’ pliers have a crimper for crimping electrical connectors, a fish tape puller, and a reamer. You can use them to pull electrical wire through studs if you need to add an extra wall receptacle. If the pliers have integrated crimpers, you can use them to terminate wire ends with connectors when you don’t have crimping pliers.
Generally, linesman pliers or combination pliers are a must-have in a homeowner pliers set. You can use them to do lots of different things including removing dishwasher hose clamps if you don’t have hose clamp pliers. You can also use the pliers to replace a broken zipper or pull one that is stuck.
2. Adjustable pliers
Adjustable pliers are another type of pliers that should never miss in a homeowner’s pliers set. The pliers are like combination pliers with jaws that open wider.
There are two different types of adjustable pliers. The slip joint pliers and water pump pliers. Slip joint pliers are like combination pliers with two hinge positions to allow the jaws to open a little wider. Only the Knipex Twin Grip slip joint pliers offer 5 adjustment positions for the jaws. The rest have two adjustment positions, which limits their application.
On the other hand, water pump pliers, commonly known as tongue and groove pliers, offer more adjustment positions for the jaws. Also, the jaws have a unique shape that enables them to grab flat, hex, and round shapes. This makes water pump pliers the most versatile pliers for home repairs. You can use them to tighten fasteners or break them loose, grab flat surfaces, or grab small and large pipes.
Water pump pliers come in different sizes and models for different applications. But the most common models are Channel locks and Knipex cobras and the most versatile sizes are anything between 7″ and 12″. However, most people prefer the 10″ knipex Cobras or the 9-1/2″ Channel Locks.
Water pump pliers are the most are useful pliers for plumbing. You can use them to grab and twist different sizes of pipes and pipe fittings. You will need them for simple plumbing repairs such as removing a faucet aerator or replacing a leaking spigot and more complex plumbing jobs such as fixing a slow draining sink. In other words, water pump pliers are a must-have for any plumbing job.
3. Pliers wrench
Pliers wrench are similar to water pump pliers except that they have flat, smooth jaws. The jaws also remain parallel to each other even as you adjust them.
In simple terms, a pliers wrench is a pliers version of an adjustable wrench. They can do everything an adjustable spanner does and sometimes even better. In fact, when you use a good pliers wrench, such as the Knipex, you won’t desire a traditional crescent wrench anymore. The Knipex pliers wrench is easy to use and adjust, grips tight, and offers more leverage. You can learn more about how a pliers wrench compares with an adjustable spanner in this article.
For a homeowner, pliers wrenches are better for working on hex fittings and fasteners than water pump pliers. Their smooth jaws grip tight without leaving marks on the surface. The jaws also remain parallel to each other to make sure they don’t slip or strip an object. Some types of pliers wrench such as the Knipex lock tighter onto an object as you apply more twisting force on them. This eliminates any chance of slipping and reduces hand fatigue.
4. Needlenose pliers
When you need pliers that can get into tight spaces, the needle nose or long nose pliers have your back. These pliers are more like combination pliers with long tapered jaws. They are useful for long reach applications where regular pliers cannot fit.
Personally, I use needle nose pliers to pull hair from a clogged bathroom drain. But when the debris is deep inside the drain, I use the long nose pliers to bend a small hook on a wire hanger to make a simple drain snake.
Most needle-nose pliers have inline cutters. You can use them to cut wire when you cannot find your pair of side cutters or linesman.
5. Side cutting pliers/Diagonal pliers
Although you can use regular pliers with inline cutters to cut wire, side cutter or diagonal pliers are the best for wire cutting. They have longer cutting edges and are designed to provide more leverage when cutting.
Furthermore, the cutters on most side cutters and dykes are super hardened so that they can cut a variety of wire sizes without getting nicked. However, you should avoid cutting harder materials that the pliers are rated to protect the jaws and keep them sharp for a longer period. That being said, if the cutters become blunt, you can easily sharpen them using one of these methods.