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 the faucet of your sink is leaking, it could be the result of poor packing on the valve or worn-out washers. Follow these steps to try to solve the problem.

  1. Turn off the water supply underneath the sink
    1. To see which handle is leaking, try turning off each supply one at a time, seeing if the leak stops
  2.  Turn on the faucet until the water 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
  4.  Unscrew the packing nut with a wrench
    1. The packing nut holds the stem down and holds everything in
    2. Turn counter-clockwise
  5.  Remove the valve unit
    1. Pull up straight
    2. You may need to use pliers.
    3. It should come up, and you’ll be able to hold it in your hand
  6.  Put your finger into the valve seat (the hole from where the valve unit came), along the rim, to check for damage
    1. If it feels rough, you may need to replace the valve seat with a seat wrench or resurface it
  7.  Remove the brass stem screw from the bottom of the valve unit
    1. The washer, o-ring or graphite string sits above the screw and holds water in
    2. If the screw is in bad shape, you should replace it
  8.  Replace the washer, o-ring or graphite string
    1. Wear, buildup or an ineffective seal can all cause leaking in a faucet
    2. Washers come in all different sizes. To get the correct size, bring the whole valve unit to the hardware store
    3. Most of the time, flat washers do the trick. Only use a beveled washer if the seat is damaged and can’t be repaired
    4. If using string, wrap it around the stem seven to 10 times
    5. Some valve units have a spring and rubber washer. The same rules apply to replace them—remember the order that everything stacks together, and bring the items to the hardware store to ensure you get the correct sizes
  9.  Put the brass stem screw back in place
    1. Be careful not to torque too much, or it may crack
  10. Reverse all the steps to put everything back in its place



-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