I have a PVC P-trap under a sink and the trap nut is a very low profile, flush plastic nut that appears to be octagonal. The nut is only about 1/8" thick or less and 1" across so there is very little area for a wrench to grip onto. To make it even worse, the corners of the nut are not sharp, but are rounded off.

Is there some kind of special tool that is used for this kind of nut?

  • Roughly what size is it across? 1"? 4"? – Andrew Morton Jan 11 '19 at 13:40
  • 3
    Be sure it's actually a nut and not just a molded-in design element. – isherwood Jan 11 '19 at 13:43
  • 2
    Replacement PVC P-traps (without this "feature") are cheaper than most specialised tools. – RedGrittyBrick Jan 11 '19 at 16:15
  • 3
    A photo might help this question. – Kevin Reid Jan 11 '19 at 19:54

A channel-lock plier is the best tool for about any PVC nut. It's much quicker and more reliable than an adjustable wrench due to the clamping force you're able to apply and the gripping teeth.

  • With PVC the wrenches for these nuts don't hold well as you have found so the best tool becomes channel locks. Make sure to get a pair that will open enough for the drain size.+ – Ed Beal Jan 11 '19 at 15:08
  • The nut is only 1/8" or less high, maybe 1/16" with rounded edges. There is no way pliers or channel locks will work. It requires some kind of special tool, but I don't know what it is. – Tyler Durden Jan 11 '19 at 15:55
  • The wrench doesn't care how wide the nut is. Are you saying that there's something in the way? That hasn't been made clear. Post a photo. – isherwood Jan 11 '19 at 16:53

I would opt for the channel locks for any kind of gland nut grasping as well, but if the ring nut is low profile and sunk, well first I'd just free up any other joints along the drain by loosening them or removing them where I could, as the P trap often comes apart in two pieces, and then I'd just try and GRASP the upper stem with one hand and the lower stem of the P trap with my other hand, and PULL the socket apart along the joint's longitudinal axis, and give that a go, adding a little twisting motion, you may be able to loosen the threads by twisting the joint a little bit, twisting back and forth, like wringing out a washcloth, and you can bend the pieces a little bit as you pull them apart and they may be springy or they may give a little, because you may just have a trap that slips apart like that, and it may be a decorative nut, or it may conceal an inner ring that seals it up.

In the event you have a threaded nut with worn surfaces, hammer blows concentrated by a center punch or similar chisel implement to the exposed head or faces of the nut, directed in a tangental fashion such as to impart loosening torque by hammering it tangentially, can sometimes loosen some of these class of low profile bolt heads, when channel locks, crescent wrenches, or a socket can not. You may find that you should attempt turning it left-hand as well as right-hand hey you never know.


While a channel-lock plier like the others said is definitely the tool for the job, in some cases like possibly yours, since the edges are rounded off, you might not be able to get a grip on it.

In this case, I would reach for my handy vise-grip pliers, my favorite tool. You can grip just about anything with vise-grips.

After you remove the nut with your vise-grips, I recommend replacing the nut for later convenience. It probably costs a few cents at your local hardware store.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.