Like any tradesman, plumbers are always inundated with work. There are a lot of intricacies that go into each job that we take on and while it’s always rewarding to complete something, it’s definitely time-consuming and often exhausting.
I think that we can all agree that the actual plumbing work is the more interesting part of the job, and anything else that we have to do alongside that such as paperwork and looking for clients is just an irritating aside.
It’s an entirely understandable mentality, and I would never blame anyone for prioritizing what they enjoy more, especially when the work is also what probably merits most of your attention anyway.
But neglecting other aspects can result in problems too. And one thing in particular that you should never neglect is your tool maintenance. We all know that a good set of tools are essential and are generally willing to invest in that, but that’s not where it ends.
Tools don’t last forever, especially if you don’t take care of them. You need to keep up with regular maintenance to ensure maximum longevity and so that you can deal with any issues before they become too big to handle.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the importance of tool maintenance:
Consult the Manual Before Use
Most of the time when plumbers buy a brand new tool or some other piece of equipment, the manual that comes with it will generally just be tossed aside. Tradesmen tend to be kinesthetic learners.
Learn by doing instead of reading and of course that’s fine, but there might be some advice on how to ensure that the tool doesn’t wear down and other things you can do to maintain its quality during use.
It could also clue you in on some potential issues that you might face and how you can go about dealing with them. You don’t necessarily have to read the thing cover to cover, but do give it at least a quick once over to see if you can pin down anything important.
And then hang on to the manual for every tool. Something could go wrong and there may be a solution in there.
Hand Tool Maintenance
Different tools will have different requirements for maintenance, and some are quite naturally more important than others. A lot of things can go wrong with your hand tools that you should keep an eye out for.
You probably have three or four different kinds of wrenches, as well as pliers and a couple of other metal torque tools, and the biggest issue you’re likely to face with them is something known as ‘mushrooming’.
This happens a lot to the striking heads of a steel hammer or chisel or the inside edges of a wrench where it connects to bolts and pipes. As you can probably guess from the name, mushrooming is when the metal starts to become deformed and stretched.
It hangs over itself like the top of a mushroom. The best way to keep this under control is to shave off the metal sides with a pressure grinder. If you let the problem get too bad this won’t be possible anymore and you’ll have to replace the tool.
Trying to work using a tool with mushrooming steel makes everything very difficult. Even essential jobs like clearing main line blockages require the use of wrenches so you can’t let them warp to a substantial degree.
Similarly, keep an eye on the blades of handheld saws. They are usually pretty easy to replace and you can buy blades at most hardware stores. Blunt blades make for shoddy and slow work so check them as often as possible.
Power Tool Maintenance
For your power tools, maintenance is probably even more important. While worn down and damaged hand tools can lead to bad workmanship, if your power tools are faulty they could get dangerous.
In general, you should be constantly checking the cables to make sure that they’re not frayed and that the inner wires aren’t exposed. Especially since you’re working with water, this could lead to electrical faults.
Check the prongs on the plugs too and make sure that they’re not getting bent out of shape. Getting a bit more specific, you should be careful about the tips on your jetter. They need to be kept clean because debris is always building upon them.
You should check your drum machine too by letting it run and watching the feed handle and the feed rollers to make sure that they are running nice and smooth and not getting caught up in each other.
And then with sectional machines, do the same thing and be watching out for how freely the clutch handle moves and whether or not the cable rotation stops when it’s released. Neglecting any of these issues will put pressure on the machines while they’re in use so it’s best to deal with them as soon as possible.
So in addition to all of that, it’s also important to know when a tool is past the point of maintenance and you need to fully replace it. This will happen eventually, but if you regularly tend to the tools’ needs, then they should last you for many years.