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Stop Plumbing Leaks With Ball-Type Shutoff Valves

Choose ball-type valves when replacing toilet or sink shutoff valves

Shut off ball valveFamily Handyman
Ball valves will shut off the water to faucets and toilets more reliably than standard valves. They cost only a little more.

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Choose ball-type valves rather than standard valves

Standard and ball valves

Turn standard stop valves several times clockwise to close. A ball-type valve requires only 1/4 turn.

Cutaway of shut off ball valve

A shut off ball valve has a hole in the ball, which completely opens or closes with 1/4 turn.

If you’re remodeling your kitchen or adding a bathroom, here’s some advice you’ll thank us for later: Choose ball-type shutoff valves instead of standard stop valves (Photo 1). Shutoff valves go unused for years. Standard valves have rubber washers that harden with time and other fussy parts that become caked with mineral deposits. Then—when the time comes to replace the faucet or fix the toilet—the valve won’t seal off the water flow.

Ball valves are simpler inside. A ball with a hole through it opens and closes with a quarter turn. Fewer complex parts, fewer things to go wrong. Ball valves almost never let you down. This reliability costs you only slightly more per valve. Ball valves are sometimes labeled “quarter turn” valves. If you don’t find them at a home center or a hardware store, call a plumbing supply store (search online or in the yellow pages under “Plumbing, Fixtures, Parts & Supplies”).

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
You’ll need other tools if your water pipes require threaded, soldered or welded (plastic) fittings.

Required Materials for this Project

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

  • Ball valve