When I first started roof plumbing in Western Australia I didn’t really know what to bring, the only thing I was told was to wear some shoes with decent grip and to bring a cordless drill. It wasn’t until I was working on the tools that I started to realise I needed a lot more. Therefore, to give others better advice than I had I thought I would list out the tools you need to start roof plumbing.
Essential tools for roof plumbing
Below is a list of roof plumbing tools that I would recommend that you carry;
- Tool belt with two pouches (either side)
- Red and green tin snips
- A tape measure
- Rivet gun
- Stanley knife
- Cordless drill
- Cordless hammer drill
- Drill and tech bits
- Chalk line reel and chalk
- Measuring square
- Angler measuring tool
- Small magnetic level
- Colourbond touch-up pens
Note, as I spent most of my time installing metal roofs and gutters the list may change for roof tilers.
Tool belt with dual pouches
The biggest time waster and safety issue is when roof plumbers have to get up and down on roofs unnecessarily. To minimise this, you want to ensure you have a decent roof plumber’s tool belt that allows you to carry all your essential tools plus be hand free.
When looking for a tool belt you want to get one with two sides, one that carries a majority of your tools and the other side that carries screws, rivets, screw bits, chalk etc.
In addition to this, you also want to ensure you have a decent clip either on your belt on at the bottom of one of the tool bags for your drill to hang from.
Having a properly setup tool belt will really help when it comes to being organised and prepared up on the roof so take your time looking for the ideal setup for you.
Red and Green Tin Snips for Roofing
Your red and green snips will become your go-to tools. Whether you’re installing gutters, roof flashings, or laying sheets you’ll need a decent pair of snips on hand. Why do you need two? Well the green snips are made for cutting clockwise curves and the red ones cut in reverse (counter-clockwise).
Some examples you’ll use your tin snips for include:
- Cutting and installing metal valleys
- Installing roof flues, vents, or hatching
- Installation of ridge caps and cap ends
- Cutting gutters to join
- Cutting our holes for downpipe pops
- Cutting and installing roof flashings
When you’re roof plumbing you’ll be using your tape measure all the time, hence make sure you get a decent one! From my experience, you want at least an 8m tape measure that is nice and sturdy when extended. Why 8m and not 5m? This is because gutters come in lengths of 6m and colourbond sheets can often be longer than 5m so having an 8m tape will cover you in most scenarios.
Also, you want to ensure the tape isn’t flimsy and can be extended out a fair way as you’ll often find yourself in situations where you will need to extend the tape out across rafters etc to take a measure.
If you’re looking for a brand, check out the Stanley fat max range.
As a roof plumber, you’ll always be pulling out your rivet gun. This will be used time and time again for installing gutters, fixing roof ridges, and roof flashings. With this in mind ensure you get yourself a decent rivet gun – my go-to is the lobster river gun. These are well proven and used by many in the roofing industry.
Another important tool in a roof plumbers tool kit is a decent hammer. You’ll use your hammer daily for a number of different tasks, from fixing roofing insulation to nailing in gutter brackets.
A Stanley knife is another essential addition to your tool belt. When choosing a knife ensure you get one that has an extendable blade is this as much more versatile than the standard short-bladed knives. Situations where you’ll use your Stanley knife, include:
- Cutting roofing insulation to length
- Cutting the tops off roofing and gutter sealant tubes
- Removing old silicone
- Sharpening your pencil
- Scoring downpipe plastic coverings so they can be removed
Note, as blades will often break or become blunt always ensure you have 2-3 spare blades within your tool belt (ensure these are in a blade holder box so you don’t accidentally cut yourself)
Another essential tool for a roof plumber is a cordless 18V drill. Tasks that you’ll use this for include:
- Inserting and removing roof screws
- Fixing roof flashings such as ridges, barges and
- Drilling holes for rivets
- Fixing downpipes brackets to timber structures or walls
Although not an item you’ll carry with you on the roof, you’ll want to ensure you have a 18V hammer drill in your toolbox. You’ll need this for such tasks as mounting downpipe brackets on brick walls and drilling and fixing cut-in flashings around the lower roofs of secondary buildings.
Drill and tech bits
Depending on what you’re working on you’ll need to ensure you have the appropriate drill bits to get the job done. Here is a list of drill bits that I like to carry:
- 1/8th double-ended drill piece for drilling holes for rivets etc (Always carry a couple of spare ones in your tool belt)
- Roof screw tech bits
- Zip screw tech bits
- Extend tech bits
Chalk line reel and chalk
Chalk lines are the best way to mark your roof screw lines, hence if you’re laying new metal roof sheets best you carry a chalk line reel with you so you can easily mark out screw lines based on the underlying rafters.
Always carry a couple of decent pencils in your tool belt. You’ll use this daily for tasks such as:
- Marking gutters or roof sheets for cutting
- Jotting down and working out measurements
When it comes to sharpening, pull out your Stanley knife as these are a perfect tool for sharpening your pencil.
A measuring square is required to mark out and cut you the likes of roof flashings, gutters, and downpipes so if you’re likely to be working on such tasks always ensure you have a measuring square handy!
Angle measuring tool
If you’re tasked with working out an angle to perhaps make a flashing or bend a downpipe too, then you want to consider having an angle measuring tool handy as these are great for capturing and marking up angles to work against.
Small magnetic level
Magnetic levels are great for getting your downpipes vertically straight before fixing them against the wall, hence if installing downpipes is one of your tasks then ensure to have a small magnetic level in your tool belt.
Colourbond touch-up pens
We’re not all perfect and sometimes flashings, gutters or downpipes can get scratched. Therefore, it’s best to carry some colourbond touchup pens with you so if you do accidentally scratch something you can use the colorbond pen with the matching colour to fix it up.
What else do I need?
Now we’ve got the tools out of the way, you want to ensure that you have the right clothing and safety equipment on. For more information on what I believe a roof plumber should be wearing, check out the link below.
I hope you found this article of use, especially for those younger folk out there that are starting off their career as a roof plumber. By all means, if someone is reading this and feels that I’ve missed something off the list let me know and I’ll ensure it gets added:)