Whether you want to replace a broken faucet or upgrade your fixture, removing the old faucet is quick and easy if you have a basin wrench. But what if you don’t? Instead of running to the closest home improvement store to buy one, do what every DIYer does best: remove the faucet with tools you might have at hand.
The easiest way to remove a faucet without a basin wrench is with a socket wrench. An adjustable wrench or a pair of pliers could also help you get the job done. Apart from the tools, you may also need some penetrating oil to lubricate the nut.
Tools Required to Remove Sink Faucet
A basin wrench is a specialized tool designed specifically for the quick and easy removal of all sink faucets. If you don’t have one, gather the tools below (most of which you should already have at home) and roll up your sleeves to get the job done.
- Socket wrench
- Adjustable wrench
- Adjustable pliers
- Penetrating oil
- Putty knife or a flat plastic scraper
- Gauging tape
- A cloth or towel
What Should You Use As A Basin Wrench Alternative?
Basin wrenches make faucets easy to install or remove, but not everyone has them at home. Moreover, inexperienced DIYers may even find it challenging to maneuver the awkward-looking tool. So, what can you use instead of it? Here’s a list.
A socket wrench is a type of spanner that uses closed sockets for quicker removal of nuts. Most socket wrenches on the market incorporate a ratcheting mechanism and have a long handle; they are fairly easy to use in confined spaces, such as the one under a sink.
The classic open-jaw wrench most of us have in the garage is another good substitute for the basin wrench – even though the shorter handles could make it a bit more tedious to use. The greatest advantage of an adjustable wrench compared to the socket one is that the movable jaw lets you fit the wrench tightly around the nut. That said, you’ll likely have to remove all the plumbing under the sink to successfully use this tool for the purpose.
Crow’s Foot Wrench
Like the socket wrench, a crow’s foot wrench is a special type of tool used to work in confined spaces or around obstacles. It has an open end similar to the traditional box wrenches; this head is attached to a ratcheting handle for easier reach and turning. You may find the jaw a bit tricky to slide around the nut, but once you have a grip, removing the faucet with this wrench will be child’s play.
Adjustable pliers, also called tongue-and-groove, are an alternative to the adjustable wrench. These pliers feature a moving jaw that can fit objects of different sizes.
Perhaps the most popular type of adjustable pliers is the channel-lock. Named after the company that manufactures them, these pliers have a strong gripping jaw that makes it easier to apply torque. Channel-lock pliers – and adjustable pliers, in general – are an excellent choice for those stuck nuts that won’t budge. The long and thin handles also make it easy to reach objects in narrow or confined spaces.
An uncommon solution many DIYers swear by is duct tape. To unfasten a faucet nut with it, you have to wrap the nut as tightly as possible and let a duct tape “handle” extend out of it. Grab the handle with a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench and turn it counterclockwise to loosen it.
For this method to work, you have to wrap the duct tape really tight, and the handle should be fairly short; otherwise, you risk tearing it off as you’re turning.
If the faucet is old, you may also want to apply some lubricating oil to the nut first. This will help unscrew it faster.
How To Remove Kitchen Faucet Without Basin Wrench
Know that you know what tools to use to remove the kitchen faucet without a basin wrench – and what other things you need for the job – it’s time to get to work. If you’ve never unfastened a faucet before, follow the easy steps below.
1. Turn off the water and locate the supply lines
Removing the faucet without turning off the water is an easy way to disaster. All sinks should have a shut-off valve located nearby (generally under the sink). Locate it and turn it off. Alternatively, turn off the main water supply for your house.
Once you’ve closed the valve, open the faucet and drain the water on the line. Then, go under your sink and locate the water supply lines – these are the pipes or hoses that bring cold and hot water to the faucet.
2. Lubricate the nut
Place some towels on the cabinet floor and a bucket under the faucet. Have a helper hold the faucet and get under the sink (a headlamp or flashlight might increase visibility in the confined space).
Locate the nut under the faucet and inspect it. If it’s shiny and looks new, you might skip this step. If you notice that it’s worn out or that it has signs of rust, you should lubricate it first.
Spray some penetrating oil all over the nut and wait for about 15 minutes for it to seep into the threads. You can then proceed to the next step
3. Unfasten the nut
Fit a socket wrench, crow’s foot wrench, adjustable pliers, or adjustable wrench around it (depending on your sink’s depth and the actual size of the cabinet, you may find it easier to use one tool over the other). Once you have a good grip, turn the nut counterclockwise to loosen it.
In the case of old nuts, you might have to apply a lot of torque to get it to budge. Don’t loosen your grip and keep turning while the helper holds the faucet firm.
Once the nut comes loose, you can continue turning it by hand until you remove it completely.
4. Disconnect the water lines
Once you’ve unfastened the nut holding the faucet upright, you must disconnect the water lines and remove the faucet from the sink.
Most water lines are connected to the faucet with nuts, although some plumbers may use other fastener types.
Locate each line’s nut and use a pair of pliers to unfasten it. Once it comes loose, you can continue turning it by hand until it comes off.
5. Remove the faucet
Get out from under the sink and simply lift the faucet to remove it. You can now inspect it and see if it’s reusable or dispose of it and replace it with a new faucet.
To install the new faucet, position it inside the hole, then reverse the order of the steps above: connect the water lines and fasten the nut holding it in place.
Knowing how to remove a faucet comes in handy when you have to replace an old or outdated fixture. That said, here are a few answers to other frequent questions you might have.
What does a basin wrench look like?
A basin wrench is a peculiar tool that consists of a long shaft and two asymmetrical jaws at one end. The opposite end features a transverse handle, while the jaws are connected to the shaft with a pivot pin.
Similar to an adjustable wrench, the basin wrench has a jaw that is fixed on the shaft, whereas the other jaw is mobile. The mobile jaw features a spring-loaded mechanism that ensures an automatic closure once you slip it around the fastener.
The jaw can open at various widths, fitting nuts of various sizes. To use the basin wrench, you have to slip the jaws around the nut and turn the handle in the direction that causes the pivot pin to increase the grip and torque (generally, counterclockwise if you want to loosen the nut or clockwise to tighten it).
Another characteristic of this wrench is the loose hole at the end of the shaft through which passes the traverse handle. This loose hole allows you to position the handle in such a way as to fit a tighter space or to increase torque, as needed.
Thanks to the fixed jaw, the wrench head rotates as you’re turning the shaft, allowing you to loosen or tighten faucet nuts from a distance. While more challenging to use compared to a standard wrench, the basin wrench is the only one that can access fasteners effortlessly in confined spaces.
What size is a faucet nut?
Most faucet nuts are about 1 3/8 – 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Most basin wrenches on the market fit nuts with a diameter of 3/8- to 1-inch. Hence, many DIY portals claim that you can’t use a basin wrench to fasten or remove faucet nuts. However, this isn’t true.
Like most wrenches, basin wrenches come in different sizes, and there are multiple models that can fit nuts up to 1 1/2 inches in size.
As you can expect, the larger the wrench size, the more it will cost you. That said, you’ll unlikely spend more than $30 to buy a quality basin wrench.
If you don’t feel like spending the cash and already have other wrenches in your home that fit your faucet’s nut, simply follow the steps above to remove it.
What is a plumber’s wrench called?
A plumber’s wrench is also called a pipe wrench or Stillson wrench. This is a different tool from the basin wrench mentioned above.
A pipe wrench is designed to use on pipes rather than nuts, even though you can use it to fasten pipe ring nuts. This type of wrench is similar to the adjustable and basin wrench in that it features an adjustable jaw.
Removing a faucet without a basin wrench is fairly easy if you have any type of ratcheting wrench at hand. Alternatively, you could use an adjustable wrench or a pair of pliers, especially if your sink has a shallower basin and there is plenty of space under it to maneuver the tool. Hopefully, the guide above can help you choose the right tool for the job.