How to Use a Basin Wrench

  • 01 of 04

    A Lifesaving Uni-Tasker

    Basin wrench

    A basin wrench is part of a basic plumbing tool kit for a plumber, but it's not a tool most homeowners own. That is until they try to remove a faucet from an installed sink. Kitchen and bathroom sink faucets typically are secured with low-profile mounting nuts that are accessible only on the underside of the sink. The problem is, sink manufacturers couldn't care less about how much space you have under there, so getting to the mounting nuts can be impossible with a standard wrench or pliers or even your hand.

    Enter the basin wrench. It has a long shaft and a small, spring-loaded, claw-like head that tightens onto the nut as you turn the shaft. The head swivels 180 degrees to set up the wrench for tightening or loosening a nut. At the bottom end of the shaft is a little T-bar that provides leverage for turning the shaft. Because it's used almost exclusively for faucet mounting nuts, a basin wrench is fairly considered a uni-tasker (a tool that's good for one job), but if you need one, you'll probably decide it's the best $10 to $20 you've ever spent. 

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  • 02 of 04

    Position the Basin Wrench Head

    Using a basin wrench
    Aaron Stickley

    Pivot the head of the basin wrench so it is perpendicular to the shaft and faces the correct position for loosening or tightening the nut:

    • To loosen the nut, you will turn the wrench counterclockwise, and the opening of the claw on the head should be on the right (as shown in the left photo here). 
    • To tighten the nut, you will turn the wrench clockwise, and the opening of the claw should be at the left (as shown in the right photo here). 

    Remember: right-tighty, lefty-loosy. Or, if you prefer: turning clockwise tightens; turning counterclockwise loosens. Also remember that you're looking at the nut from the underside (your head is under the sink and you're looking up). Apply right-tighty, lefty-loosy from this perspective; do not think about it from the top of the sink looking down. 

    You'll know that you've positioned the head correctly if the claw grips the nut as you turn the wrench in the desired direction. If you get it backwards, the claw will slip off the nut right away. 

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  • 03 of 04

    Using a Basin Wrench

    How to use a basin wrench
    Aaron Stickley

    Fit the head of the wrench around the faucet mounting nut so the ridged jaws of the claw grip the notches or edges of the nut. (In the photo here, the head is positioned for loosening the nut.) Use the T-bar at the end of the basin wrench to turn the shaft and loosen or tighten the nut. You may have to use two hands on the T-bar, or you can slide the bar all the way to one side and lever it with one hand while stabilizing the wrench shaft with the other hand. 

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  • 04 of 04

    Tips for Using a Basin Wrench

    Telescoping basin wrench
    Aaron Stickley

    It doesn't take long to get the hang of using a basin wrench, but here are a few tips for difficult situations: 

    • A telescopic basin wrench (left photo) has an extendable shaft to reach faucets with really deep sink basins.  
    • Use a pipe or the back end of an adjustable wrench to increase your leverage on a T-bar (right photo) for removing stubborn nuts. There's no need for this kind of leverage when tightening a nut.  
    • The claw can grab a nut from any position around the nut (just like pliers can), so move the head to any position that's comfortable for turning the wrench.