Those who do any sort of plumbing repairs already know how difficult it can be to remove twist-on connectors that have corroded or are otherwise stuck. Tongue-and-groove plumbers’ pliers usually get the connectors unstuck, but they can also damage the connector by bending, breaking, or marring its surface.
The best solution for hard-to-remove connectors is a strap wrench, and this tool is so good at what it does, professional plumbers usually carry one or two with them at all times. This type of wrench gives you all the torque (twisting power) you need to twist connectors without damaging them.
Keep reading for tips on selecting the right tool and to find out why these are among the best strap wrench options for everyday plumbing situations.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Strap Wrench
Strap wrenches are not complex tools—but a few key features make some better than others for specific situations. The differences are relatively subtle and include attributes such as size, type, and how the strap allows the user to gain leverage. However, all types of strap wrenches work in a similar manner.
The most crucial factor to consider when shopping for a strap wrench is to ensure it’s the correct size for the connections that need loosening. Strap wrenches are labeled as to the minimum and maximum diameter of the different types of pipes they will fit. Most are versatile and will fit a variety of sizes. These measurements are often found in the tool’s description and can also be found printed on the strap.
The maximum pipe diameter the strap wrench will accommodate may be listed as its “capacity,” such as “5-inch capacity.” In the detailed listing, the minimum diameter may also appear (but not always), indicating the smallest pipe diameter the wrench can grip securely.
The handle on a strap wrench should be comfortable to grip and should not slip when the user exerts torque pressure. The materials used for strap wrench handles include metal (often aluminum), molded plastic, and sometimes wood. Some of the newer strap wrench handles come with an ergonomic design and a padded, non-slip grip, but many are just straight bar handles, intended for gripping by a user wearing gloves.
In general, a longer handle allows the user to exert more force with less effort, but when working in tight spots, such as under a sink, a shorter handle may be required. Strap wrenches come with handles that vary in length from around 4 inches up to 15 inches or longer.
The strap on the wrench is available in various material options, including steel, aluminum, rubber, or plastic.
For those who will be using a strap wrench overhead, a lightweight tool is desirable. Typically, strap wrenches average in weight from a couple of ounces to a few pounds, depending on the tool’s intended use.
A strap wrench that weighs 1 pound or less will be the least likely to result in arm and hand fatigue for most users when performing around-the-house plumbing repairs. Strap wrenches that weigh more than 2 pounds are usually relegated to industrial use, where a worker needs to remove a sizeable threaded pipe or connector. For those who are undecided on the best weight, err on the side of caution and go with a lighter-weight strap wrench.
Most strap wrenches require very little if any maintenance, but if the tool features metal parts, there’s a chance it could rust or corrode if left outside or used in damp situations. Most strap wrenches can be cleaned with soap and water and then dried with a soft clean cloth before storing. Avoid using a chemical cleaner on strap wrenches with soft padded grips, which could degrade from contact with the chemicals.
When possible, store strap wrenches with steel or aluminum straps in an upright position, rather than tossing them in a drawer or toolbox to keep the straps from becoming bent or warped. Some higher-quality strap wrenches come with the ability to change out an old strap with a new one. The replacement straps can be found in home improvement stores or online from the manufacturer’s website.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick for this lineup, a strap wrench must be durable, easy to grip and use, and suitable for the desired task. The following strap wrenches are made from quality materials, and while they are designed for different applications, each is a standout in its class.1Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
With the ability to securely grasp pipes up to 5 inches in diameter, the Reed Tool 5-Inch Strap Wrench rises to the spot of our best overall pick. It comes with a flexible polyurethane-coated strap and a strong, ductile iron handle and is suitable for use on all pipe materials, including PVC and chrome. Weighing in at 1.7 pounds, the Reed strap wrench is heavier than some strap wrenches but not so heavy it will cause hand and arm fatigue when used overhead.
With the 12-inch handle, the user can exert force while twisting without scratching or damaging the pipe or connectors. The strap wrench comes with instructions that show how to thread the strap through the handle and how to position it on the pipe or connector for the best results.
Cons2Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Those looking for durability and versatility in a strap wrench need look no further than the Titan Strap Wrench, which features a robust 12-inch handle that will extend the user’s reach. The handle is made from polished aluminum for durability, yet it weighs only 0.7 pounds, so it won’t lead to excessive arm and hand fatigue.
The strap is made from double-woven polypropylene for strength and to keep it from slipping. Its smooth surface won’t scratch or mar the finish on polished pipes or cylinders. The Titan strap wrench offers a wide capacity range and can be used on pipes as small as 1.05 inches in diameter up to those measuring 9 inches in diameter.
Cons3Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Firmly grasp large pipes and other cylinders up to 12 inches in diameter with the Boa Constrictor Aluminum Strap Wrench. The Boa’s industrial-strength rubber strap won’t slip on any cylindrical surface, including plastic, metal, chrome, or even glass.
The 12-inch heavy-duty alloy handle features a non-slip PVC coating for a comfortable hand feel, and the strap wrench comes with a thumbscrew for making the strap snug before applying twisting pressure to the pipe or other object. Weighing in at just 4 ounces, the Boa strap wrench rests easily in a tool bag or belt until you need it.
Cons4Photo: walmart.com Check Latest Price
The polyurethane-coated, woven nylon strap on the Ridgid 5-inch Strap Wrench won’t slip or mar polished pipe, such as the mirror finish found on high-end, stainless steel exhaust pipes. With an oversized 18-inch cast-iron handle, users won’t have any trouble generating enough leverage for twisting loose or tightening pipes and connectors up to 5 inches in diameter. The wrench comes with a strap-threading guide and instructions on how to use the tool.
The extra-long, 18-inch handle on the Ridgid strap wrench gives the user added reach when working in situations where it’s challenging to get close enough to the pipe or filter to grip it tightly. This bad boy is on the hefty side, however, weighing in at a beefy 2 pounds.
Cons5Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
With a handle length of just 3.5 inches, these two Craftsman Rubber Strap Wrenches is just the right size for reaching into tight spots where a larger strap wrench just won’t fit. The Craftsman wrench comes with a cushioned plastic handle to reduce hand fatigue, and it features a reinforced rubber strap that offers a non-slip grip on pipes and other cylinders up to 4.5 inches in diameter. The larger strap wrench comes with a 5-inch handle and accommodates cylinders up to 6.5 inches in diameter.
The small strap wrench will easily fit into a tool pouch or a kitchen utility drawer. Though both strap wrenches are made for twisting connectors on pipes, the little one can also lend a hand the next time a family member needs a little help opening an extra-tight jar lid.
Cons6Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
While many strap wrenches come with adjustable straps, the Ridgid Straplock Strap Wrench features a heavy-duty, molded plastic handle that has a contoured brace that fits along the curved side of the pipe to stabilize the wrench for twisting or even lifting. The wrench comes with a thick, durable strap that won’t slip and won’t scratch or mar pipe surfaces.
Ridgid strap wrenches are designed to offer added stability. Users simply position the strap around the pipe and then feed the end of the strap through the handle to tighten—the wrench accommodates pipes as small as 3 inches in diameter and a large as 8 inches in diameter. Once the strap is drawn, a locking mechanism on the handle secures it and keeps it from slipping.
While plumbers and DIYers can find a wide variety of strap wrenches on the market today, not all are built to last. Among the best options available are the Reed Tool strap wrench, which came in as the top pick of the lineup, and the Titan strap wrench, offering impressive torque pressure in a budget tool.
How We Chose the Best Strap Wrenches
Dozens of strap wrenches were extensively researched while gathering the best models for this lineup. While strap wrenches are simple hand tools, they serve as valuable aids for increasing the twisting pressure necessary to loosen tight pipes and other fittings.
In addition to brand reputation, durability, and overall effectiveness, the wrenches were analyzed based on the range of pipe sizes they would accommodate and the handle’s length. Both the wrench handle and the material used for the strap had to be tough and able to stand up to the intense pressure created during use. The weight of the wrenches also came into play because heavy strap wrenches are more likely to lead to hand and wrist fatigue with repeated use.
Plumbers often carry one or more strap wrenches in their toolboxes for loosening and tightening pipe fittings. The wrenches feature a flexible strap that fits around a pipe or cylindrical connector—gripping it tightly—so the plumber can twist it loose using a handle.
Minimum pipe size varies from tool to tool, but some strap wrenches can be used on pipes as small as 1 inch in diameter.
Wrap the strap around the pipe, connector, or cylinder you want to twist loose, and then exert pressure on the wrench’s handle to rotate the item. Only screw-type connectors can be loosened with a strap wrench—welded connections require cutting to remove.
Use only a strap wrench that’s suitable for the size of pipe you’re trying to twist and tighten the strap snugly before attempting to turn the pipe.
When it comes to plumbing, in addition to a strap wrench, essential tools include a pipe wrench, basin wrench, tongue-and-groove pliers, plumbers tape, plunger, and a torch (for welding copper connections).