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Fix a Leaky Shut Off Valve

Shutoff valve leaks are usually caused by loose packing nuts. A slight turn of a wrench often stops the leak.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Fix a leaky shutoff valve

Don’t panic. Here’s a simple fix that works more than half the time and doesn’t cost a dime to try. Many shutoff valves have a packing nut or packing material that surrounds the valve stem. The packing can shrink or get worn over time, causing water to leak out around the valve stem. This usually happens after someone has closed and opened the valve for a repair or for some other reason. The good news is that in most cases simply tightening the packing nut will fix the problem. Go easy, though. If you tighten it too much, the valve won’t turn. Quarter-turn shutoff valves don’t have a packing nut. If this type leaks around the stem, you’ll have to replace it.

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Required Tools for this Project

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Two adjustable wrenches

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October 23, 4:49 PM [GMT -5]

This fix worked perfectly. To borrow from your earlier article (October 2000, found by Google) on this, protect the packing nut with a rag or duct tape so the wrench won't mar the finish. And your earlier article suggested 1/8 of a turn, and I said while that worked for me, if i had to do it again I'd start with 1/16 of a turn. Tightening the packing nut makes the valve handle harder to turn, and you don't want to make it any harder than necessary, as these valves and their plastic handles are not heavy-duty.

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