Owning a home has many benefits but keeping up with repairs can get costly if you hire someone to take care of all of the repairs. Over the years we’ve advised prospective Chicago homeowners of the potential repairs they’ll need to make if they purchase the home that they currently looking to buy. Through our conversations with these home buyers some questions we typically get are, “What tools will I need for these repairs?” or another common question, “What tools should I own to make my own home repairs?”
We’ve put together a list of 15 tools that every homeowner should own. Whether your home repairs are big or small, we can almost guarantee that you’ll use at least a few of these tools for every project.
A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most inconvenient household problems that you will encounter. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these plumbing issues relatively quick and easy. It is best to have two plungers, one for the sink and one for the toilet.
2. Combination Wrench Set
One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes, and because both varieties are widely used, you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening. You’ll use these wrenches in a number of scenarios, a common use is when you need to bolt down a toilet.
3. Slip-Joint Pliers
Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks. A common use is if you encounter rounded off bolts, these pliers come in handy in helping grip the bolt for removal.
4. Adjustable Wrench
Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut. Anytime you need to grip a nut or bolt, is an ideal time to use your adjustable wrench.
5. Caulking Gun
Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps in various structures and certain types of piping. Caulking can provide noise mitigation and thermal insulation, and control water penetration. Caulk should be applied only to areas that are clean and dry. Some common areas to apply caulk would be around the bathtub or sink to prevent water damage.
None of the tools in this list is of any use if you cannot visually inspect the situation. The problem, and solution, are apparent only with a good flashlight. A traditional two-battery flashlight is usually sufficient, as larger flashlights may be too unwieldy. While most smartphones come with a flashlight, a traditional flashlight can be more useful in certain situations.
7. Tape Measure
Measuring house projects requires a tape measure -- not a ruler or a yardstick. Tape measures come in many lengths, although 25 feet is best. Measure everything at least twice to ensure accuracy. Every project that you do at your home will most likely require that you use a tape measure.
A hacksaw is useful for cutting metal objects, such as pipes, bolts and brackets. Hacksaws look thin and flimsy, but they’ll easily cut through even the hardest of metals. Blades are replaceable, so focus your purchase on a quality hacksaw frame. If you’re installing a new section of pipes for plumbing or irrigation system a hacksaw will be extremely helpful.
9. Torpedo Level
Only a level can be used to determine if something, such as a shelf, appliance or picture, is correctly oriented. The torpedo-style level is unique because it not only shows when an object is perfectly horizontal or vertical, but it also has a gauge that shows when an object is at a 45-degree angle. The bubble in the viewfinder must be exactly in the middle -- not merely close. You’ll most likely use one of these if you are mounting that new flat screen to your living-room wall.
10. Safety Glasses / Goggles
For all tasks involving a hammer or a power tool, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. They should also be worn while you mix chemicals. You should wear safety glasses for every project to protect your eyes from any debris you’ll encounter while working.
11. Claw Hammer
A good hammer is one of the most important tools you can own. Use it to drive and remove nails, to pry wood loose from the house, and in combination with other tools. They come in a variety of sizes, although a 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice. Whether working on repairing your deck, building a birdhouse, or hanging picture frames chances are you’ll use this tool just as much as the tape measure.
12. Screwdriver Set
It is best to have four screwdrivers: a small and large version of both a flathead and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Electrical screwdrivers are sometimes convenient, but they're no substitute. Manual screwdrivers can reach into more places and they are less likely to damage the screw. You’ll use your screwdrivers mostly when it comes to “some assembly required” projects.
13. Wire Cutters
Wire cutters are pliers designed to cut wires and small nails. The side-cutting style (unlike the stronger end-cutting style) is handy, but not strong enough to cut small nails. Use caution when using wire cutters, make sure no power is connected to any wire you plan to cut.
14. Respirator / Safety Mask
While paints and other coatings are now manufactured to be less toxic (and lead-free) than in previous decades, most still contain dangerous chemicals, which is why you should wear a mask to avoid accidentally inhaling. A mask should also be worn when working in dusty and dirty environments. Disposable masks usually come in packs of 10 and should be thrown away after use. Full and half-face respirators can be used to prevent the inhalation of very fine particles that ordinary facemasks will not stop.
15. Duct Tape
This tape is extremely strong and adaptable. Originally, it was widely used to make temporary repairs to many types of military equipment. Today, it’s one of the key items specified for home emergency kits because it is water-resistant and extremely sticky. While duct tape may last a long time, it should only be utilized as a temporary solution until you can use your other tools to create a proper solution.