How To Use A Basin Wrench

While some plumbing projects offer plenty of room to work, others are in compact, awkward spaces, making the process unnecessarily difficult. For example, the mounting nuts on a faucet can be extremely tough to reach, especially if you have larger hands or the gap between the cabinet wall and sink basin is narrow.

This is where a basin wrench comes in.

Quick Answer:

To use a basin wrench, slide its head onto the nut you want to tighten or loosen under the sink. Ensure the tool’s jaws are clamped securely around the nut. If loosening, orient the wrench so that turning the handle counterclockwise will turn the nut in the same direction. If tightening, the handle should be turned clockwise. Use steady pressure to turn the handle and adjust the nut.

These handy tools are designed to extend your reach in small spaces, allowing you to complete your plumbing project without the headache of navigating cramped spaces. So, how do you use these specialty plumbing tools? Let’s find out!

What Is A Basin Wrench?

DURATECH Telescoping Basin Wrench, Sink Wrench, Adjustable 3/8'' to 1-1/4'' Capacity Jaw with 10" to 17" Extendable Handle, for Tight Space

A basin wrench is a long-handled tool designed to offer added reach into tight spaces. They’re particularly handy for reaching the nuts that tighten a faucet to the sink deck, as the space between the cabinet wall and sink basin can be narrow. Since this space can restrict hand movement in this space, the wrench makes it more manageable to secure the faucet.

The basin wrench is shaped for this particular purpose. It features a long handle with a rotating, self-adjusting head that grasps the mounting nut of a faucet for tightening and removal. At the end of the wrench, there is a horizontal T-bar that offers leverage as you tighten or loosen a nut.

What Do You Do With A Basin Wrench?

As mentioned, basin wrenches are particularly handy for plumbing nuts located in snug spaces, like under the sink. However, they work for several applications besides securing faucet mounting nuts. They work well behind appliances, toilets, and other hard-to-reach mounting nuts.

Basin wrenches come in several sizes, each with varying jaw sizes that allow them to accommodate smaller or larger nuts. Some models come with built-in lights for easier use and better viewing. This way, you don’t need to use a separate flashlight while working on your project.

How Do You Use A Basin Wrench?

Using a basin wrench is a reasonably straightforward process, but it can feel awkward due to the unique shape of the wrench. So, it might take a minute or two to get the hang of things, but once you figure it out, you shouldn’t have any issues.

To start, fit the head of the basin wrench over the nut. The head of the wrench should be perpendicular to the shaft and facing the proper direction. For removal, the claw opening should face the left, but the claw opening should face the right for tightening.

You’ll know right away if you get the positioning wrong. If it’s backward, the claw will slip when you try to loosen or tighten the nut. So, if the claw slips when you try to move it, flip it in the opposite direction to obtain the correct position and try again.

Once you get the wrench appropriately aligned on the nut, ensure the ridges in the jaw firmly grasp the nut’s notches or edges. Then, rotate the head by using the T-bar at the end of the tool. You might find it easier to stabilize the wrench shaft with one hand and turn the T-bar with the other.

If the nut you’re working on is corroded, you might need to spray a lubricant on the nut to ensure things move smoothly. A lubricant, like WD-40, will help break the corrosion bond between the nut and the threads, allowing you to remove it without a hitch.

I found this video helpful to visualize using a basin wrench:

Which Way Do You Turn A Basin Wrench?

The way you turn a basin wrench depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you want to tighten the nut, you will turn the wrench clockwise, so the jaw openings should be to the left. Conversely, you will turn the wrench counterclockwise to loosen the nut, with the jaw opening facing the right.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Much Do Basin Wrenches Cost?

In general, a good-quality basin wrench costs between $15 and $20. If you opt for a telescopic or contractor-level basin wrench, you’ll pay more for it. The higher-end models usually cost $50 or more, but they’re typically unnecessary for those who do occasional plumbing projects.

Alternatively, you can rent a basin wrench from your local home center or tool rental outlet. However, most hand tools cost about $10 per day in rental fees, so renting the tool makes less sense than buying one, considering you can get a good-quality tool for a few dollars more.

Which Basin Wrench Should I Buy?

As mentioned, you can find good-quality basin wrenches for less than $20. They come in various shapes, sizes, and brands, so you can choose whichever option best fits your needs.

If you need an extendable wrench to reach deeper, more inaccessible places, opt for a telescopic basin wrench. These wrenches are extendable, so you can adjust them based on the depth of the space you’re working in.

Pay attention to the sizing, as you’ll need a wrench large enough to grasp the nut you’re attempting to tighten or remove. Although most basin wrenches feature adjustable jaws, they’ll still need to somewhat mirror the size you need.

Here are a few on Amazon I found that got reviews:

DURATECH 11-Inch Basin Wrench, Sink Wrench, Adjustable 3/8'' to 1-1/4'' Capacity Upgrade Jaw, for...
DURATECH 11-Inch Basin Wrench, Sink Wrench, Adjustable 3/8” to 1-1/4” Capacity Upgrade Jaw, for…
Free replacement insures your DURATECH Wrenches purchase against manufacturer defects.
Amazon Prime
TEKTON 11 Inch Basin Wrench (3/8-1 in.) | WRN92001
TEKTON 11 Inch Basin Wrench (3/8-1 in.) | WRN92001
Fits 3/8 to 1 in. diameter nuts on faucets, supply lines, valves, and drains; 180-degree pivoting head holds its position at any angle to access hard-to-reach nuts
Amazon Prime

How Do I Know Which Size Basin Wrench I Need?

You can determine what size basin wrench you need by using the information that came with the appliance or fixture you’re working on. For example, if you’re trying to remove the mounting nuts on your kitchen faucet, check the owner’s manual for sizing information. Once you determine the size of the nut, you can use that to select the correct basin wrench.

If you don’t have the owner’s manual, you can always look up your faucet online. Find a listing for your faucet on the brand’s website (or on a home improvement website). Once you find the listing, scroll down to the “Product Information” section. You should find supporting documents, including an owner’s manual, a troubleshooting guide, and an installation guide, where you can find the information you need.

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