These directions summarize some supplies and steps we have found helpful when working with sinks. This information is offered for use at your own discretion, and it may or may not be applicable to your specific project. Please consult a professional for more detailed advice regarding your project.

If your sink has a leak, it could be the result of poor packing on the valve or worn-out washers. Sinks with a single handle that floats in all directions operate slightly different from sinks with two handles. Follow these steps to try to solve the problem.


  1. Turn off the water supply underneath the sink
  2. Turn on the faucet until the water is stops flowing
  3. Remove the handle by unscrewing
    1. If there is a decorative cap, often found in bathroom sinks, pop it off with a flathead screwdriver first
    2. The longer handles, often found in kitchen sinks, usually have a screw on the bottom side of the handle, close to the faucet
      1. These kinds of sinks often use hex screws, so you’ll likely need an Allen wrench to remove it
  4.  Remove the external-most part
    1. This could be a metal sleeve, cap, retaining nut or whole faucet
    2. If you need to take the wrench to it, put a towel in between the wrench and the part you’re unscrewing, in order to avoid damage
  5.  If the handle has one, remove the horseshoe shaped retaining clip from the unit with pliers
    1. The retaining clip is often found in the valves that have metal sleeves over them
    2. You will find the clip toward the top of the valve unit
    3. The clip holds the units in place
  6.  Remove the valve unit
    1. Pull straight up
    2. You may need to use pliers
    3. It should come up, and you’ll be able to hold it in your hand
    4. It will either look like a long stem, or it will be shorter with a ball on the bottom
  7.  Assess the valve unit for wear and tear or damage
    1. If the unit is in bad shape, you may want to replace the entire thing
    2.  Replace the necessary parts
      1. If the unit has a ball at the end, pull out the washers and springs in the seat (the hole from where the valve unit came) with an Allen wrench and replace them. Bring them to your local hardware store for correct sizing
      2. If the unit is a stem, replace any worn-out o-rings
    3. Wear, buildup or an ineffective seal can all cause leaking in a faucet
  8. Reverse all the steps to put everything back in its place
  9. You can also add plumber’s putty externally, to tighten the seal



-basin wrench

-tub drain wrench

-crescent wrench

-Allen wrench

-plumber’s putty

-plumber’s tape or pipe dope

-teflon string

-screwdrivers (flat and Phillips)

-cow bells (deep socket wrenches)

-offset wrenches

-pipe wrenches



-As much as you might love one vintage faucet or another set of vintage handles, it is extremely difficult to mix and match, as a lot of threading doesn’t work on other fixtures. Most manufacturers have their own unique, proprietary thread patterns

-Tips and tricks for working with faucets and knobs can apply to both sinks and showers. The workings of many tub and shower valves are essentially the same as lavatory faucets

-If you’re doing plumbing work, and you already have the wall open, use that opportunity to assess whether you need to replace your pipes. If you have galvanized pipes that are more than a few decades old, it’s a good idea to replace them. They are prone to rust and failure. Galvanized water pipes are best replaced with copper

-As beautiful as vintage fixtures are, they are often not code compliant. Clawfoot tub fixtures often don’t have correctly placed flood rims, older fixtures often aren’t pressure balanced, etc. If your remodeling job is getting permitted, be sure all the fixtures are code compliant. Otherwise, you’ll fail inspection