The Tools Every Homeowner Needs

If you've got a house, you need tools to keep it in one piece. When a pipe breaks or a garbage disposal jams, being able to fix it yourself will save money, and in the case of that broken pipe, a quick fix could prevent thousands of dollars in damage. You don't want to be running to the hardware store or trying to borrow tools from a neighbor in an emergency, so make sure you've got these tools on hand.

  • Safety glasses and work gloves: These should be the first things you reach for when you need to repair something. Don't start working until you've protected your eyes and hands.
  • Philips and flat-head screwdriver: One of each with a sturdy plastic handle is best. Four-in-one screwdrivers with an assortment of Philips and flat-head bits are convenient and will handle most home repairs.
  • Allen wrenches: A surprising number of set screws, adjustment screws and furniture screws need to be adjusted with Allen wrenches. The Swiss Army Knife-style sets of wrenches can be very difficult to use in tight places, but they're a convenient solution for larger jobs, and you won't have to worry about the wrenches getting lost. Keep a few of the smaller, individual Allen wrenches around for those hard-to-reach screws.
  • Stilson wrench: This is that big, heavy wrench with the adjustable top and teeth on both gripping surfaces. These are used in the majority of plumbing fixes. Get one that's large enough to fit over the shutoff valves on your pipes.
  • Adjustable wrench: A good adjustable wrench eliminates the need for a set of wrenches in different sizes and will tackle most of the nuts that you come across. If you've got recessed nuts in decking or outdoor construction, you'll need a few socket wrenches to remove them.
  • Wire strippers: Most electrical repairs should be left to the professionals, but wire strippers come in handy when you're installing new switches, appliances or speaker wires.
  • Plunger: Keep one of these handy for sink and toilet drain problems. The basic design with a shallow rubber cup is the most versatile.
  • Disposal wrench: If you have a garbage disposal, you should have one of these long, s-shaped wrenches to manually turn the impeller. If you don't have one, you can find a replacement at the hardware store.

With this basic set of tools, you'll be able to repair many of the things that commonly break in a house. For weather emergencies or structural repairs, you'll also want to have a tape measure, a hammer, an electric drill, a Philips screwdriver bit for the drill and a supply of three-inch, self-tapping screws.

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