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How to Repack a Stem Seal on a Street Valve

You can add new packing in minutes without turning off the water

Teflon packing ropeFamily Handyman
Repair a leak around the packing nut of a street valve by wrapping new packing rope around the stem, a five-minute fix.

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Repack a stem seal on a valve

Wind on special packing rope

Wrap one wind of stem packing rope around the stem. Tighten the packing nut and open the valve. If it still leaks, back off the packing nut and add a few more winds of packing rope.

If the street-side valve at your water meter has been leaking, you don’t have to pay the utility to come out and shut off the water so you can fix it. You can repack the stem with the water on, but you’ll get some water spray once you loosen the packing nut, so move anything you care about away from the meter area.

Most old valves have rust and mineral deposits in the gate valve’s receiving groove. That crud can jam the gate and damage the valve. Gently close the valve (don’t force it). Then open the cold faucet at your laundry tub. Next, open the street-side valve slightly. The rush of water will flush out the crud. Shut off the laundry faucet, then the street-side valve (in that order).

Buy Teflon packing rope at any hardware store or home center. With the valve in the off position, loosen the packing nut and slide it toward the handle. Then repack the stem.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Adjustable wrench

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Teflon packing rope