If you’re just starting to build your own toolbox, then you should know that one of the most important purchases you should make is an adjustable pipe wrench.
Wrenches have the same function as sockets and ratchets; you use them to tighten and loosen pipes and fasteners including nuts, rods, and bolts. However, they allow you to apply more torque without damaging the ratchet mechanism.
A top-grade pipe wrench can be your lifesaver. You can use it in repair or construction. In fact, it might be one of the most frequently used tools in your arsenal.
If you get to buy the best pipe wrench made from the most durable materials, you’ll be able to save a lot of money.
Are you struggling to buy the most reliable pipe wrench? This guide might be able to help you.
What To Look For In A Pipe Wrench
Using the wrong type of wrench may lead to injury and damaged pipes and fasteners. That is why it is essential that you understand the different types of pipe wrenches and how you can use them. When you buy the right pipe wrench, you’ll be able to save time and money.
Here are the most common types of pipe wrenches and their uses:
Straight Pipe Wrench
This is usually used to adjust pipes that range from ¾ inch to 8 inches. It might not be able to handle the pipe range below or above this unless you buy a small or bigger straight pipe wrench. In which case, you will be able to handle pipes of up to 60 inches. Straight pipe wrenches are usually made of aluminum or heavy steel.
You can use this wrench in areas with limited space. Usually, when there is little room to grip on an object, you end up damaging it. An offset wrench, however, has a narrow jaw head. This allows it to handle pipes that are parallel other pipes or those positioned in an awkward angle.
End Pipe Wrench
What makes this wrench different is its jaws. First of all, they are set at a minor angle deviation to the wrench. Moreover, their teeth allow a stronger grip on a fastener or pipe. You can use it to handle objects that are close to the wall.
Compound Leverage Wrench
This pipe wrench can give you that extra leverage. It’s best used on joints. The force you apply on the wrench can be magnified, thus lessening the risk of damage or corrosion. It is ideal for freeing joints frozen by damage or age and locked couplings.
For plate, plastic, and odd-sized pipes, the strap pipe wrench is the best tool to use. Unlike other wrenches, it does not have the usual wrench head. Instead, it makes use of a strap. This strap is made of rubber. You can wrap this around a pipe in order to loosen or tighten it.
For confined spaces that you can’t reach with an offset wrench, you can use the chain pipe wrench instead. Like strap pipe wrench, it does not have a wrench head. It makes use of a chain instead. The chain can carry out heavy duty tasks.
Of course, it’s not enough that you know the different types of pipe wrenches. You also have to look for specific qualities that define the quality pipe wrench:
Each of these pipe wrenches come in varied sizes. If you want to buy one that you can use on almost any task, experts suggest that you purchase a 14-inch straight pipe wrench. This will allow you to work on the simplest home plumbing work. If it’s not available, you can also opt for an 18-inch pipe wrench.
No matter what type of wrench you buy, you must make sure that it’s the best wrench. Evaluate the materials used in making the wrench, so you’ll know its durability. Those which are made from ductile iron bends before they break. Thus, you will know when it’s no longer safe to use the pipe wrench.
Ease of Use
There’s a required gap that you must maintain between the pipe and the shank of the hook jaw. Usually, this gap is set an ½ inch. The teeth of the pipe wrench should produce a strong gripping action to make it easier for you to tighten or loosen a pipe or fastener. If the hook jaw of the pipe wrench comes in contact with the pipe, it will greatly reduce its grip.
Although the weight of the pipe wrench is not the primary consideration of buyers, it will still help if you know how heavy the tool is. The heavier the tool is, the more you’ll be prone to fatigue. As a rule, it’s better if you buy a lightweight pipe wrench. Usually, light pipe wrenches are made from aluminum.
The grip of the pipe wrench will determine how easy will be for you to tighten or loosen pipes and fasteners. If it has a loose grip, you can hardly do the job right. You will have to apply more force and spend more time on turning the pipe wrench. On the other hand, a pipe wrench with a strong grip can get the job done more quickly.
Before buying a pipe wrench, consider the job that you’ll be working on and the surrounding space. Choosing the wrong wrench will greatly cause inconvenience, waste time, and damage the pipe or fastener.
Our Top 5 Pipe Wrench Picks
There are many pipe wrenches available in the market. So how do you know which is the best one to buy? You have to evaluate each of their features carefully. To save you the trouble, we have compiled a list of the top-rated pipe wrenches in the market.
RIDGID is one of the leading manufacturers of professional hand tools. They’ve been around since 1943, and they specialize in tools that are needed in pipe fitting, plumbing, HVAC trade, and construction.
This straight pipe wrench from RIDGID is known for its strength and quality. It’s one of a kind and has been consistently getting good reviews from professionals.
The tool is lightweight, so you can easily handle it. In fact, it is 40% lighter compared to other iron models.
Despite its lightness, RIDGID claims that this heavy-duty wrench is also durable.
The pipe comes with an I-beam handle and a full-floating hook jaw, which you can adjust easily. The jaw has self-cleaning threads and replaceable heel jaw, hook jaw, and spring assembly. The adjustment nut helps in cleaning grime from the jaw shank.
RIDGID 31100 Model 818 is 18 inch in diameter. You can use it on a pipe range of 1 inch to 2 ½ inches.
Tradespro Tools, managed by Alltrade Tools LLC, has been one of the global leaders in tool and shop equipment design, manufacturing, and marketing. It was founded in 1979, and for several decades, it has delivered tools that meet or exceed their customers’ expectations. One of these tools is the Tradespro 830914.
This adjustable pipe wrench is 14 inches in length. Its jaw capacity is 1.5 inches but can be expanded to open to over 2 ½ inches. There are etched markings, so you’ll know the pipe size the jaw can handle when you adjust it. Its loose mouth allows it to move from side to side.
Tradespro 830914 is made of malleable cast iron. The steelhead is made of drop-forged carbon and finished with sandblasting. Thus, it is heavy. However, it is also reliable enough to perform heavy-duty projects. Moreover, it is durable enough to last for several years. Overall, this pipe wrench is perfect for professional and home repair tasks.
Though not as popular or as established as RIDGID or Tradespro, Cartman has managed to release a few great hand tools in the market.
They specialize in toolsets that one can use in household repairs. One of their best products is their aluminum pipe wrench.
This pipe wrench is made of aluminum, making it 40% lighter compared to other cast-iron models. Because it is lightweight, it can reduce fatigue. It has an overall length of 18 inches. It weighs 3 ¾ lbs and has a pipe capacity of 2 ½ inches.
Its heavy-duty features are comparable to that of RIDGID pipe wrenches. For instance, it has a sturdy housing, and its handle is made of I-beam. The hook jaw is full floating and adjustable. The heel jaws and hook can be easily replaced as well. The head is made of durable carbon steel and finished with sandblasting. Unlike RIDGID, however, Cartman pipe wrench comes with a cheaper price tag.
IRWIN TOOLS is a manufacturer and distributor of professional-grade hand tools. They are known for producing durable products with superior performance since 1885. Their most popular products include their vise-grip locking tools.
Constructed from a high-grade cast iron, IRWIN Tools Vise-grip pipe wrench is known to be highly durable.
It is heat-treated to make it resistant to breakage and distortion. Its easy-spin nut adjuster is also heat-treated.
This pipe wrench is lighter compared to other cast iron models but heavier compared to aluminum models.
IRWIN Tools Vise-grip pipe wrench has a 2-inch forged hook jaw makes it ideal for many surfaces including copper pipe, PVC, galvanized pipe, and more. You can also use it with bolts, nuts, and couplings. The hardened teeth can give a great bit. It has a unique hammer-like head, which you can use for hammering as well. Meanwhile, the I-beam handle has a wide design, thus providing a balanced weight distribution.
Overall, it has a length of 14 inches with a pipe capacity of 5 inches. You can stretch the jaw up to 7 ½ inches, but you might risk breaking it.
There’s a reason why RIDGID is on the top of the market when it comes to pipe wrenches. Their hand tools are so well-constructed that other brands struggle to compete with them. For this reason, we’ve listed another product from RIDGID.
The RIDGID 31010 Model 10 is another straight pipe wrench for heavy-duty jobs. At 10 inches, it’s notably smaller than RIDGID 31100 Model 818. However, this adjustable pipe wrench has complied with all the GGG-W65IE federal specifications and thus considered Class A.
Offering grade-A reliability, RIDGID 31010 Model 10 has a sturdy housing, and I-beam handle. It has long-lasting durability and can handle heavy-duty tasks. The hook jaw is full floating while the hook and heel jaws are replaceable with self-cleaning threads. The spring assembly can be easily replaced.
This pipe wrench is also known for its versatility. You can use it for almost any kind of pipework. And because it has a red color, you can easily find it. RIDGID 31010 Model 10 has a pipe capacity of 1 ½ inches and a weight of 1 ¾ pounds. It is ideal for pipes with ¼ inch to 1-inch diameter.
Since a pipe wrench is an investment, you should make an informed purchasing decision. Each adjustable pipe wrench has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, RIDGID 31100 Model 818 is lightweight and strong but wider than your usual 18-inch pipe wrench. Tradespro 830914 have a good grip but is prone to rusting and chipping of paint. Cartman Aluminum Pipe Wrench is smooth and lightweight but has a weak grip. IRWIN Tools Vise-grip pipe wrench is a versatile tool with a good grip but a bit heavy. Lastly, RIDGID 31010 Model 10 has versatile and reliable design but heavy as well.
Reviewing all the features of these top 5 pipe wrenches, there’s no doubt that RIDGID still tops the market. The brand’s commitment to high standards of strength, quality, and endurance makes it the number 1 choice among professionals.
Both RIDGID 31100 Model 818 and RIDGID 31010 Model 10 offer superior features when compared to the other wrenches. Between these two models, however, RIDGID 31010 Model 10 has a better design. What makes it the best one in the market is its compliance with the GGG-W65IE federal specifications. This Class A tool can be used in a number of pipe jobs, may it be easy or difficult.