A basin wrench, otherwise known as a sink wrench, is a plumbing tool that can get into tight spots that you wouldn’t traditionally be able to reach with a regular wrench.
This is an essential part of a plumber’s toolkit for being able to do things like getting underneath sinks or behind bathtubs without hurting yourself.
However, as this is a very specific tool, you might not always have one to hand (or want to spend money on one). So today, we’re going to look at eight great alternatives you can use instead of a basin wrench to achieve the same thing with equal ease.
The best alternatives to a basin wrench.
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Unfortunately, you can’t just use any old adjustable wrench instead of a basin tool. Removing a bathroom faucet, for example, is just too tricky with a regular wrench, as the lock nut is so deep all of your conventional tools won’t be able to reach it.
Luckily many great alternative tools can do the job just as well, albeit not always as elegantly. But basin wrenches are often so challenging to source locally that you may find one of these methods is just the thing you need.
Before attempting the removal of any bathroom fixture, remember to turn the water off the water mains and leave the faucet turned for a good few minutes to relieve any pressure.
1. Socket basin wrench
So unlike a regular basin wrench, the multi-function sink socket wrench is essentially a plastic tube designed to fit socket ends onto it.
It has a perfect length, so you can be sure it’ll reach up to your faucet, and it has a convenient anti-slip texture and level built into it.
Not only that, but it’s one of the cheapest tools around and easily fits 99% of regular sink faucet nuts. Providing you can find one of these guys near you (or order one online), this is a convenient thing to have around if you need to work on any plumbing quite often.
While it’s not quite as durable as a real basin wrench due to its plastic shell, it’s the next best thing.
2. Crows foot wrench
One of the main reasons you cannot just use a regular adjustable wrench to unscrew a kitchen faucet is that the required angle doesn’t leave enough room for the wrench and your hand.
This is where the crow’s foot attachment comes in. It’s essentially a small shaft attachment that extends out from the shaft and can have various wrench tips attached. This effectively turns a regular wrench into a basin wrench by changing the torque direction and allowing it to fit into spots a standard wrench simply couldn’t.
These are pretty widely available and are relatively cheap. We recommend keeping one in your toolbox, as it’s good for many other things beyond bathroom fixture removal.
3. The DIY pipe fitting
This is undoubtedly a less elegant solution compared to a product you can purchase. But fundamentally, a socket basin wrench is just a socket placed into a pipe long enough to reach the faucet.
So some people have been able to make a quick and dirty basin wrench by using PVC pipe and mounting the socket into it.
While this isn’t recommended if you need to do this often, as a one-off to get you out of a bind, it would be just the thing!
4. The zip-tie method
Another inelegant method but one that can prove surprisingly helpful when no other tools are available. Although, you should note this is more for loosening a bolt and is less ideal for tightening one as it often can’t produce enough torque to tighten a nut securely.
Tying a zip-tie or cable fastener around the bolt then gives you a ‘tail’ that can be gripped and pulled with pliers to lead the bolt around.
This allows you to grab it at a vertical angle instead of a horizontal one.
5. Pipe strap wrench
A pipe strap wrench is essentially a wrench where the fitting has been replaced with a strap that gets tightened around the nut. It can produce an incredible amount of torque.
They’re relatively inexpensive and make a great alternative to a basin wrench.
What’s nice about these is that the strap will grip the nut, which makes it great for getting into those tight you have a degree of movement with the handle positioning spaces just like a basin wrench.
6. Basin buddy
Not to be confused with a basin wrench, the basin buddy is a universal faucet wrench that is designed to fit all standard toilet and bathroom connectors and can be attached to the end of any ⅜ ratchet.
This allows you to use any vertical ratchet system you have, and you can pop the basin buddy on the end of it, and it will instantly become a one-stop shop bathroom fitting tool!
Very convenient if you’re dealing with a leak and need to close the nut in a pinch!
7. Deep well socket
The main reason you simply can’t use regular wrenches for this task is the length needed to reach the bolt in an awkward spot. So a good alternative is a deep well socket, which is essentially the same thing as any other socket except that it has additional length added onto it, which explicitly gives the connection point a longer distance.
While the well is intended for nuts where something protrudes out from the nut meaning a shallow socket can’t reach the lock nut, it works just as well as a wrench lengthening device.
8. Take the sink off
Granted, this is the solution you are probably trying to avoid, but in the absence of any other alternative, completely disconnecting the water supply line and lifting the sink off first will give you complete, unimpeded access to the sink.
You can attach it with a regular wrench and re-fit the sink.
It’s the most labor-intensive of the suggested methods but doesn’t require any additional tools, so it is a nice fail-safe should nothing else be available.
The pros and cons of a basin wrench
The basin wrench does its job exceptionally well, but as it was designed for this specific purpose, there can be some downsides to getting one that might not make it worth the price.
- Thanks to its long shaft and horizontal turning angle, it allows you to get into tough-to-reach spots.
- Because it simply tightens down on the nut, you do not need any specific nut sockets for it. It will fit any nut regardless, making it versatile for many different kinds of fittings.
- Relatively inexpensive to purchase (provided you can source it).
- It has a particular and niche use. Even though the wrench portion works fine, its angle and orientation can make it more challenging to use in conventional settings than a regular wrench.
- Depending on your location, it can be difficult to source, which often comes with additional shipping costs.
How to choose the best basin wrench alternative
Ultimately what makes the best basin wrench alternative will come down to what resources you have available then.
The Crows Foot Wrench and Basin Buddy are highly effective and should be the first alternatives you try to reach for.
But not everyone has easy access to these, so there are still ways to make it work, such as with PVC pipe or the cable tie method. Although these are far less effective if you are stuck without the necessary tools, they can come in handy.