How to Use Basin Wrench For Your Home

By Richard S. Clark | Last Updated: September 9, 2022

Basin wrench is a specialized plumbing tool used by almost all professional plumbers and even homeowners who do their plumbing work by themselves. The device is designed specifically to install or remove the faucet fast and easily. Once you learn to use a basin wrench, it will become an essential element of your plumbing toolbox.

Kitchen and bathroom sink faucets are often held in place by low-profile mounting bolts that can only be accessed from underneath the sink, and in this case, standard wrenches and pliers are nearly useless – you need a basin wrench. Before we go to the steps on how to use the basin wrench, it is best to define first what the tool is and its parts.

How to Use Basin Wrench

What is Basin Wrench?

A basin wrench is a specialized plumbing instrument with a revolving, self-adjusting grasping head, and a long handle. Its primary function is to remove and tighten the mounting nuts of faucet tailpieces. The tool’s design allows it to operate in tight locations where other devices cannot.

The Different Parts of a Basin Wrench

Each part of the basin wrench has its function. Some are vital for completing the project, while others provide support. Below are the components of a basin wrench you need to know.

Pivoting Gripping Head

A basin wrench features a rotating gripping head at the end of a long handle. The flexible supply tube nuts that attach to the ends of the faucet tailpieces are intended to be tightened or loosened with this tool, which is designed to reach up into the awkward and unreachable position under the sink.

Because these nuts are so challenging to reach, some plumbers choose to attach the faucet to the sink before installing the sink. Where this isn’t possible, the basin wrench allows you to reach up under the sink from the bottom and quickly tighten or loosen the mounting bolts.

Claw Head

The tool comprises a long shaft and a tiny, spring-loaded claw head that tightens onto the nut as the shaft is turned. The head swiveled 180 degrees in each direction to loosen or tighten nuts.

Sliding T-Bar

A sliding T-bar at the shaft’s bottom end provides leverage for twisting the shaft.

A basin wrench’s applications are limited because it is solely used on faucet mounting bolts. However, every homeowner will need to repair a faucet from time to time, and when you do, a basin wrench will be the greatest $10 or $20 you ever spent.

What You Need:

  • Basin wrench
  • Lubricant
  • Nuts and bolts (optional)

Steps on How to Use a Basin Wrench

First, you need to prepare your basin wrench and lubricant before working on the nuts. It is also best to have spare nuts and bolts if you need to replace them.

Step #1 Lubricate the Mounting Nut

You might have a hard time removing the nuts of a faucet that has been in place for a long time. It might have corroded and stuck in place. In this case, a preliminary spray with a penetrating oil may be helpful. A spray can with an extension straw is suggested for applying a small burst of oil to the mounting bolt threads the oil to penetrate for a few minutes before you try to loosen the nut.

Step #2 Wrench Head Adjustment

Turn the basin wrench head, so it is perpendicular to the shaft and is facing the proper position for tightening or loosening the nut.

Turn the wrench counterclockwise to loosen the nut, and make sure the claw’s opening on the head is on the right.

Turn the wrench counterclockwise to tighten the nut; the claw opening should be on the left side of the wrench.

Always keep in mind to tighten turn clockwise, to loosen turn counterclockwise. Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey are other terms for the same thing. In addition, keep in mind that you’re looking up and not down at the nut as you would from the top of the sink.

When you turn the wrench in the required direction and the claw grabs the nut, you’ve got the head in the right place. The claw will fall off the nut as soon as you get it backward.

Step #3 Turn the Nut

Make sure the ridged jaws of the claw of the wrench fit snugly around the nut’s notches or edges. To loosen a nut, the head of the screwdriver is in this position. To remove or tighten the nut, crank the shaft with the basin wrench’s T-bar. The T-bar may require two hands, but you may also move it to one side and lever it with one hand while stabilizing the wrench shaft with the other.

Note: In some instances, the shank and nut may be so corroded that you will need to cut the faucet out of the sink’s rim. Using a hacksaw or reciprocating saw is time-consuming and takes an excellent skill to prevent damaging the countertop or sink.

Tips for Using a Basin Wrench

Here are some pointers in using a basin wrench:

  • You may need a telescopic basin wrench if you have a particularly deep basin.
  • To remove tough nuts, use a pipe or the back end of an adjustable wrench to improve your leverage on a T-bar. Tightening a nut does not necessitate the use of such leverage.
  • Move the wrench head to any convenient location for rotating the nut with the claw (like a pair of pliers).
  • For a deep basin that is particularly deep, you may need a telescopic basin wrench.  
  • To remove tough nuts, use a pipe or the back end of an adjustable wrench to improve your leverage on a T-bar. Tightening a nut does not necessitate the use of such leverage.
  • Move the wrench head to any convenient location for rotating the nut with the claw (like a pair of pliers).


Using a basin wrench is something that you can pick up quickly, even if you aren’t a plumber. To remove even the most obstinate mounting nuts, you’ll need this wrench’s extended handle and ratcheting claw head.

Even so, if your mounting nuts are exceptionally resistant or hard to access, you may still have problems.

Despite this, you might still have problems with especially tenacious or difficult-to-access mounting nuts.

You may need a telescopic wrench if you can’t access the mounting nut with a conventional basin wrench. If you’re having trouble reaching those hard-to-reach mounting nuts, this will come in handy.

P-traps can be removed in a small sink to give up enough room for your arm and wrench.

Cutting out the faucet from above the sink may be necessary if you are dealing with a rusted mounting nut and penetrating oil isn’t working. Cutting through the threaded tailpiece with a reciprocating or hand saw is more time-consuming.

There is an option if you cannot reach below the basin to tighten the mounting nut to the threaded tailpiece while installing or repairing a sink. Before putting the sink in place, you can attach the faucet straight to the sink. Many plumbers and contractors choose this procedure since it saves time and effort in the long run.

How to Keep Your Basin Wrench in Top Condition

As with any metal hand tool, proper maintenance of a basin wrench is simple. Once you’ve finished using it, wipe it down with a clean cloth. The pivoting joint should be lubricated with a little machine oil from time to time. Wipe the tool down with a towel saturated with oil if any corrosion occurs. It should be kept in a dry place.

You don’t need to purchase another basin wrench if you follow the simple tip above on maintaining it.


We hope this how-to-use basin wrench guide will make your task easy. You don’t have to a professional plumber to use the tool. Following the tips and procedures above is enough for you to complete the job fast and effectively. If you find this guide helpful to you and your friends, feel free to share. You can comment below for questions and if you want to add some thoughts about the topic.

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