Shutoff replacement procedure
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Mineral deposits and tiny pieces of grit can gradually build up in an old gate valve, making it impossible to fully close.
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Photo 1: Loosen the old valve
Shut off the street-side valve where the water enters the house. Then loosen the coupling
nut and remove the nipple from the old valve.
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Photo 2: Install the new valve
Screw on the new ball valve, install the old nipple
and the new leather washer (use Teflon tape or
pipe dope on the threads). Tighten the coupling nut,
turn on the water and check for leaks.
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Old-timers prefer leather washers, which will last longer than neoprene washers.
If you get drips of water coming through your pipes even with the main shutoff valve completely closed, it's probably time to replace the shutoff with a new ball valve. It's not complicated, but the house water will be off, so it's a good idea to get your ducks
in a row before you start. To remove
the old valve, you'll have to undo the
coupling on the “house side” of the
water meter. There's usually an oil-impregnated
leather sealing washer
inside the coupling. Leather washers
are tough to find, so look at a plumbing
supplier or check for them online. Some plumbing suppliers
sell neoprene washers, but the “oldtimers”
swear by leather, because
eventually neoprene will dry out and
crack. You probably have a 3/4-in.
pipe leading to and from the leaky
valve. Buy a threaded replacement
ball valve; it's a far better choice than
the older gate-style valve.
Test the “street-side” valve where
the water enters the house. Since that valve is just as old, test it to make sure
it closes all the way and reopens again.
If that valve needs replacement, contact
your water utility to shut off the main
valve at the curb.
Then check out the electrical system
“bonding jumper” that runs from a
clamp on the house side of the meter to
a clamp on the street side. If you can
unscrew the old valve with the bonding
jumper wire in place, fine. If you
can't, do not disconnect it. The safe
way to work around this problem is
to install a longer section of copper
wire and two new clamps (6AWG for
100-amp service, 4AWG for 200-amp
service). Then remove the short
bonding jumper. At that point,
you're ready to shut down the water
and replace the valve as shown.