plumber working under a sink using an ipad

11 Must Have Measuring Tools Used For Plumbing

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Last updated on November 8th, 2023 at 05:52 pm

Plumbing projects often require the use of a variety of tools and equipment. Along with various wrenches and cutting instruments, plumbers frequently use a wide range of measuring tools.

Here are 11 essential measuring tools used for plumbing.

  1. Measuring tape
  2. Laser level
  3. Pressure gauge
  4. Caliper
  5. Micrometer
  6. Manometer
  7. Depth gauge
  8. Thread gauge
  9. Inclinometer
  10. Thermometer
  11. Flow meter

1. Measuring Tape

A Measuring tape is one of the most basic and important measuring tools used for plumbing, electrical work, and most household projects.

The standard measuring tape includes a long strip of plastic or fabric marked with units of measurement. A spring automatically winds the tape back into the housing. A locking mechanism is also typically included to keep the spool of tape extended when measuring.

You may need a measuring tape to verify the size of the pipe connectors or cut the pipe to the desired length. You can use a measuring tape to measure the length, diameter, or circumference of various plumbing parts.

trio of measuring tapes

2. Laser Level

A laser level is a useful tool for plumbers, as it allows you to measure distance without needing to physically contact the object that you want to measure. Laser levels emit a red or green line along a horizontal or vertical plane.

Most laser levels are accurate to within 1/8 of an inch and provide readings within seconds. You can use a laser level to easily measure distances in difficult-to-reach areas, such as crawl spaces.

A laser level also allows you to measure the length of materials or pipes without moving from your current position.

3. Pressure Gauge

Pressure gauges measure the intensity of fluid in pipes, providing a useful way for plumbers to inspect piping for leaks and other issues. Most pressure gauges include a dial or digital display with a reading of the pressure inside a closed circuit, such as a plumbing system,
irrigation system, or sprinkler system.

A pressure gauge may help pinpoint leaks and spot irregularities. For example, weak pressure or excess pressure in certain areas may indicate a buildup of debris and the potential for a burst pipe.

Pressure gauges can also help determine the location of faults in the system, making it easier to determine the source of a plumbing issue.

pressure gauge reading 0 psi

4. Caliper

Calipers measure the distance between two points, such as the distance between two objects or the diameter of an object. The most common type of caliper is a manual tool with jaws that adjust along a scale containing metric and imperial measurements.

A screw is adjusted to align the jaws with the object. Digital calipers also require manual adjustment of the screw but include a digital readout of the measurement.

Many calipers include a set of internal jaws and a set of external jaws. The external jaws measure the exterior dimensions of objects, while the internal jaws can measure the interior dimensions of objects.

For example, you may use the internal jaws to measure the inside diameter of a pipe. The external jaws can then be used to measure the exterior diameter of the fitting to ensure a proper fit.

digital caliper reading 29.8 mm

5. Micrometer

A micrometer is a type of screw gauge. As with calipers, a micrometer can measure the thickness or diameter of an object. However, it offers greater precision and is mostly used with small objects.

A micrometer offers accurate measurements within one-thousandth of an inch. It is very precise and useful for measuring very small items, such as screws and smaller pipes or valves.

You may also use a micrometer to measure the wall thickness of pipes. If the anvil on the outer edge of the frame can fit inside the pipe, the micrometer can provide an accurate measurement of its thickness.

holding a micrometer

6. Manometer

A manometer is another device for measuring pressure. However, unlike a normal pressure gauge, a differential manometer measures the difference in pressure between two separate areas.

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For example, you may use a manometer to measure the difference in pressure between two arms connected to the same pipe or two points within the same pipe. Pressure differences can indicate clogs, blockage, and leaks.

Plumbers also use manometers to assess the pressure level of plumbing systems. For example, a manometer may be used to analyze the pressure level from a sink faucet or shower faucet experiencing low pressure.

manometer pressure gauge

7. Depth Gauge

A depth gauge measures the depth of holes and recesses. These tools are sometimes called depth micrometers, as they offer precision measurements. Most depth gauges include a base that sits on the surface of the object that you want to measure the depth of.

A rod or plunger extends from the base. The depth gauge reads the depth of the rod or plunger. Depth gauges are also used with chamfer tools. A chamfer tool is a device used for chamfering the outside edge of a pipe.

A chamfer is a bevel cut into the opening of the pipe for easier assembly.

trio of depth gauges

8. Thread Gauge

A thread gauge measures the pitch, diameter, and angles of threaded objects, such as screws, bolts, and small pipes. You can typically check the internal and external threads of objects, making the thread gauge useful for matching pipe fittings.

There are two main types of thread gauges – leaf gauges and ring gauges. Leaf gauges resemble Swiss army knives with a series of leaves that extend from the tool. Each leaf has cutouts for measuring the pitch and diameter of threads.

The ring gauge is used to solely measure external threads. It cannot measure internal threads but offers greater precision compared to leaf gauges.

9. Inclinometer

Inclinometers measure the slope, tilt, and elevation of objects. Most digital inclinometers include a gravity sensor to monitor elevation changes. The sensor detects when the elevation increases or decreases, allowing it to analyze changes in the slope of an object.

Plumbers frequently use inclinometers with remote sewer inspection equipment or sewer TV inspection equipment. The inclinometer helps the equipment navigate the main line connecting a residence’s sewer system to the municipality’s sewer system.

10. Thermometer

A thermometer measures the temperature of solids, liquids, gasses, or air. Traditional thermometers rely on the expansion of mercury or alcohol in a small bulb to display the temperature reading on a gradient scale.

Digital thermometers use small sensors to take temperature readings. Many plumbers use infrared laser thermometers. Infrared thermometers rely on infrared technology to read temperatures through objects, allowing you to read the temperature inside pipes through floorboards and other materials.

You may also use infrared thermometers to detect leaks. Temperature differences may indicate the presence of a leak.

11. Flow Meter

Flow meters measure the flow of liquid through a pipe. Most flow meters are installed in line with the pipe. There are many types of flow meters, including mechanical, vortex, ultrasonic, and magnetic. Mechanical flow meters are often the most affordable, as they require fewer components.

As water flows through the device, the flow causes a turbine or piston to spin. A counter or sensor tracks the movement of the turbine or piston.

Plumbers may use flow meters to ensure that water is properly flowing through a specific area of the plumbing system. A flow meter may also help indicate when a plumbing system leaks, as a leak can create a sudden change in the flow of water.

These are some of the most common measuring tools used for plumbing. Adding these tools to your plumbing gear should allow you to tackle more tasks with greater ease.

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