Plumbing Van Organization: Racking, Shelving & Storage Ideas

20th Apr 2018

Plumbing van storage ideas

How often have you heard yourself say, “Where the heck is that wrench?” You’ve been looking through stuff in the back of your van for several minutes now and there's still no sign of the tool you need. Meanwhile, your client is getting impatient and wondering where you are. You’re also falling further behind on your next job. You’ll have to call them and apologize for being late.

Plumbers like you work hard and have to easily find the tools you need as quickly as possible. Organizing your tools in the van helps you get jobs done more efficiently and also helps you get on the road to your next job on time.

If you tend to spend several minutes going back and forth to your van, always looking for a tool you can’t find because you don’t know where it is, you're costing yourself or your employer time and money. These are things you cannot afford to waste.

Organization is the key to making your plumbing van more efficient and productive. Your work van organization ideas need to be as efficient as those of any office worker. To get your plumbing service van organized, consider these ideas and upfits!


Essential Tools for a Plumber

You may have been a plumber for a long time. And you probably have a pretty good idea of what you’ll need for the essential tools of plumbing. But not every plumber has as much experience as you do, and there are new people learning the trade all the time. So here’s a good starting list of what every professional plumber will need:

  • Tongue and groove pliers: These are the best tools for loosening a tight bolt or piece of pipe.
  • Hacksaw: Sooner or later, you’re going to have to cut through a pipe. You'll want a good hacksaw and probably two or three of different sizes.
  • Pipe cutter: A pipe cutter produces a cleaner cut than a hacksaw. They should also be your first choice in any tight spot or difficult-to-reach area.

Pipe Cutter

  • Emergency valve: When a pipe bursts and sprays water, an emergency valve is what you’ll need to bring it under control.
  • Inspection camera: Sometimes you can’t see what you need to fix. The inspection camera solves this problem. You can find cameras that work in almost every situation, including waterproof ones, and for any pipe size.
  • Pipe bender: They can be a little more expensive than other more manual measures, but a good pipe bender saves you time, and that saves you money. You are almost always going to have to bend pipes on a job, so this is a very smart tool to have.
  • Pipe wrench: This has been the ultimate plumbers’ tool for many years.

  • Metal file: This comes in particularly handy if you’re using a hacksaw to cut pipes. The file allows you to smooth out the rough edges of any cut.
  • Snakes and augers: These are without a doubt the best ways to clear a clogged drain.
  • Propane torch and solder: It’s also a good idea to include a fire-resistant cloth and some safety goggles with these items — it's the best way to close up those copper pipe joints and cuts.
  • Washers: You'll need an assortment. Find as many sizes as you can, because you never know what you’ll need on the job.
  • Plumber's tape: This is useful for sealing leaks at threaded joint connections.
  • Toilet plunger: Most of your customers will have one in their homes, but there will be that one time when someone is missing one and you’ll really need it. So it’s a good idea to keep one in your work van.
  • Copper or PVC pipes: You will need these two different types of pipes for different jobs.

There are many other tools and materials that a good plumber uses, but the items above are essential.

When you look at the list above and consider that professional plumbers also carry many other tools and smaller accessories, you can see how using shelving, racks and other van organizational equipment, such as that offered by Advantage Outfitters, LLC, make every plumbing job more efficient.

Another benefit of plumbing van shelving comes from the protection it offers for all of these valuable pieces of equipment. You know how easy it is for things to get lost when you’re dealing with a mess. There’s a reason people say, “Everything in its place and a place for everything.” When you have a storage bin or rack for each item, it’s easy to find something and put it back each time you use it.

How to Reorganize Your Plumbing Van

When you sit down to plan out where you want everything in the back of your van, here are some elements to consider:

  • Taking stock: What do you want to have in the van? What are the most important things you need to have? What don’t you need?
  • Repetition: Think about how many times you’re in and out of your van. Also, what items do you regularly get from your van? It’s the best way to figure out which items should be closest to the door.
  • Visibility: Let there be light! It’s very difficult to find the tools you need in an unorganized, dark van. When you use shelves and racks to organize your van, you create space to include light above. Use touch-activated lights inside your van for better viewing. This is especially important for rainy, overcast days or when you have to make emergency night calls.
  • Cost-effectiveness: What kind of shelves and racks do you want? Advantage Outfitters offers both steel and aluminum shelves and racks, which each have their own advantages. If cost is the most important factor, you’ll probably want to go with steel interiors because they are usually the most cost-effective. If you’re more worried about fuel costs in the long run, you should look at aluminum and its lighter-weight construction.

Cost Factor

  • Uniformity: If you operate a business with a fleet of plumbing trucks, you want to make sure each truck has the same quality of storage space and organization. If you develop a design that can work in all your trucks, all of your employees will always know where everything is in every truck. This is particularly useful if one truck breaks down and an employee has to finish a job in another truck.

As you can see, it takes a little work to put all this together. We recommend building your system from the ground up.

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The Van Upfitting Products You Need

Let's talk a little bit about the kind of shelves and racking you might want to use in your work vans. We'll also look at some accessories that will just make life a lot easier.

Advantage Outfitters offers an assortment of products that will increase productivity and make you and your employees happier.

1. Wall and Ceiling Liners

Vans can take a real beating — especially if your service area includes rural communities where the roads may not be quite as good as the ones in the city. Even when safely stored in drawers, things still rattle around. Wall and ceiling liners make it easier to resell your van later and help deaden the noise.

2. Floors

The flooring in your work van should be sturdy and rigid. Having a good floor makes it easier for your crew to move around inside a work van and avoid any slips and falls — we are dealing with water, after all. Installed floors also help keep the van in better shape — a key factor when you want to resell it.

Good Flooring

3. Partitions

Even with a well-organized van, a sudden stop will fling some items toward the front. Partitions offer a much-needed element of protection. They keep your supplies in place and protect the driver in case of any abrupt stops.

Advantage Outfitters can custom-fit partitions for your van or fleet of vans. If your van and tool rattling can be noisy, noise-deadening partitions can also make you and your employees more comfortable while driving to job sites.

4. Shelving Packages

Shelving is a must for reorganizing the number of tools you are required to take with you on the job. We have many years of knowledge and experience when it comes to what plumbers are looking for in shelving units. Our plumbing shelving packages offer a variety of bins for all your plumbing tools and accessories and also include gas bottle holders and a partition for safety. 

5. Individual Shelving Units

Sometimes you don’t need a whole package. Individual shelving units may be just what you need to provide you with the storage space you want or to replace an older shelving unit. These are especially convenient when you are working with a smaller van or when you need to expand your current system.

6. Ladder Racks

Need something for the top of your work vans? If you're looking for plumber's van racking ideas or need additional places to store ladders, large equipment or other items, it's in your best interest to get a ladder rack to complete your work van.

Advantage Outfitters offers a wide variety of ladder racks and work decks for the top of your van, including drop-down ladder racks designed to give you easy access to ladder storage.

7. Accessories

Tired of your work papers getting all over the place? Paper holders and bins are a great way to keep your important documentation together. And if you need help deciding which accessories will benefit your work routine the most, Advantage Outfitters offers a variety of lighting choices for your van.

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Tips for Using Shelves, Racks and Other Plumbing Van Accessories

You’ll need more than just an upfit with new shelves and racking to reorganize your van. Think about how you want to organize your van and where you want things to go first. These extra tips will help you make your shelves, racking and other accessories work for you.

Plan the Layout of Your Plumbing Service Van System

This is an important step, so take your time. Think about all the different items you use on the job and how you want to organize them properly. It helps to write up a list of everything you will need to organize in a notebook and draw a sketch of what you want your system to look like.

For instance, you'll want to have the items you use most often closer to the doors of your van. This is just a little time-saving step, but when added up repeatedly, it can result in a big cost savings.

Install Extras in Your Plumbing Van


There’s also no reason you can’t afford a little comfort. While you're planning an efficient new layout, consider installing a noise-deafening partition or padded floor mats around the van. If you need to lean in to grab an item from a lower shelf, your knees will thank you, and you'll be protecting your van floor and walls from damage.

Move the Heavier Items First

Heavier or less frequently used items should go on the bottom. Work your way up the shelves so the smallest pieces of equipment end up on top. This will keep important parts safe and out of the way, and you will have easy access to the lighter tools and supplies you use more frequently.

Label Everything

Being better organized is wonderful, but if you don’t know what’s in your drawers, you’ll spend just as much time as you would if you were dealing with a messy van. It's a good idea to label your shelves and sort similar items together, just like the neatly categorized aisles of a home improvement store.

Benefits of Plumbing Van Organization

Racks and shelving can help you stay organized and efficient. They make it much easier to find tools — whether it's a safety valve, a washer or a pipe bender — when timing is most critical. And when you need that special tool for a tough job, you’ll know exactly where it is.

When you’re better organized through the use of shelves and racks, you’re helping your business in a variety of ways, including:

1. Finding Everything in Its Place

When you need a supply or tool on the job, you can find it quickly in the place you expect. This saves time for you and your clients and helps you transition smoothly between job sites.

2. An Improved Image With Your Customers

If your customer sees inside your van, and many will, and they view a neatly organized system, it says you know what you're doing. Everything you do should be geared toward the idea of encouraging repeat business from your customers and a good recommendation to other people who need a plumber.

3. Increased Productivity

Think about how many times in a day you have to return to your van. From the moment you arrive on a job site to the moment you leave, you want your work to be as efficient as possible. When you upfit your van with the shelving and rack system from Advantage Outfitters, you’re making your job more efficient.

Using plumbing van storage ideas means you can get more jobs done in a shorter period of time. All that time you used to spend looking for items in the back of the van can now be spent actually completing the job.

Increased Productivity

4. More Space

If you just have everything spread out everywhere, your floor cluttered with tools and piping, it slows you down and could be dangerous. Plumbers know all too well that when you make a sudden stop in traffic, everything can fly toward the front of the van. Protect your tools, van and yourself with proper organization.

5. Less Theft

It’s much harder for somebody to casually pick up a piece of your equipment if all of your tools are stored securely in your van. You will know immediately if something goes missing. An organized van is a theft-proof van.

6. Happy Customers

Nothing makes your clients happier than when you tell them, “Not a problem! I’ve got just what you need.” You can limit having to come back another day because you need to find the right parts when your van is prepared for common situations. Take fewer trips back to the supply store, and gain more customers whose plumbing problems have been solved quickly and are now more than happy to recommend your business to their friends.

Reorganize Your Work Van With Advantage Outfitters

Our motto at Advantage Outfitters is “Work Vehicles That Work Better.” Finding ways to improve the efficiency of your work van by using shelves, racks and storage bins is simply what we do. That means, when you come to us with your storage questions or want to know the best way to organize your work van, chances are good we’ve already solved that problem for somebody else.

But if that solution isn't the right one for your van or your business, we'll work with you to find one. We aim to turn your work van into a highly organized and efficient unit that contains everything you need to get the job done.

If you have a question about better ways to organize your van and the kind of shelving units you’ll need to accomplish that task, call our team of knowledgeable and experienced experts at 866-925-4844. Or visit our website where you can start a live chat or complete a form describing how we can help you, and one of our representatives will get back to you as soon as possible.

Better yet, if you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and say "Hello!" We have two locations — 255 West St., South Hackensack, NJ, and 107 E. Hawthorne Ave., Valley Stream, NY — where we can show you our products and talk to you about how they can make your business more efficient and profitable. 

When you’re looking for the best ways to organize your work van, talk to Advantage Outfitters!

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