Ask any skilled plumber what happens if you grab the incorrect size or type of tube clamp and they’ll probably have a story — scars on their hands when the clamp slipped, knocking their palms against the tube. Or a moment that their incorrect decision harmed the tube.

Comprehension of the distinct kinds of pipe wrenches and how to best use them can go a long way to prevent comparable occurrences for those entering the plumbing trade. Furthermore, knowing the correct wrench to use from the get-go inevitably reduces the learning curve needed to find the correct tool for the job.


There are plenty of niche-use pipe wrenches out there, but there are generally six significant pipe wrench categories. Each comes in different metals, typically iron or aluminum, and sizes range from 6 inches to 60 inches anywhere. Categories are as follows:

  • Straight pipe wrench - This is the traditional pipe wrench, suitable for tightening and loosening threaded pipes of all forms.
  • End pipe wrench - The jaws of the end pipe wrench are set at a slight angle, compared to the straight pipe wrench. This is viable when working close to a wall or near the end of the pipe.
  • Offset pipe wrench - For the tightest of spots and most awkward of angles, you want an offset pipe wrench. The opening of the jaws is at 90 degrees from the straight pipe wrench for better access.
  • Compound Leverage Wrench - The design of the compound leverage wrench multiplies the force applied to the pipe. This is best used for loosening joints that have become frozen due to corrosion or damage.
  • Chain Pipe Wrench - The chain pipe wrench utilizes a chain instead of the hook jaw and is best used for extremely tight pipes.
  • Strap Wrench - Very similar in concept to the chain pipe wrench, but it utilizes a woven nylon strap. This is great for when you don’t want to mar the pipe, typically because it’s polished, plastic or plated.

A professional plumber will always come prepared, due to their past experiences, they wouldn’t want to repeat history so they really study their wrench. It’s not bad to have all the wrench’s if you decide to go DIY or are learning to plumb. You can test it out on your plumbing fixtures, but if things go awry, don’t hesitate to call your local hills district, plumbing services.

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