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How Do I Unstick A Plumbing Valve?

Oct 28, 2016

Plumbing valves help regulate the flow of water to every water-based appliance in our homes. That means everything from our washing machines to our toilets to the main water supply use these fixtures to allow or block water from passing through our pipes. While each system’s valve is somewhat different, they all follow the same general design.

These valves are incredibly useful, but they often remain forgotten right up until we need them – once we turn them on, they only really become necessary again when we need to shut off the water supply. Emergencies like broken pipes are one of those times, and you don’t want to start out your fix by discovering that your once-trusty valve is stuck. It’s a good idea to check your plumbing valves every so often, and if you discover that one or more are stuck, here are a few easy steps you can follow to fix the problem.

What Do I Need?

Every repair job needs a good set of tools and supplies. Here’s what you’ll need to get your plumbing valve unstuck:

  • Hair dryer
  • Small hammer
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Penetrating oil

Once you have the tools and supplies you need to fix the problem, it’s time to get to work.

  • Before touching the valve in question, turn off the water supply to the area. You may need to turn off your home’s main water supply, so warn everyone that they’ll be going without a shower for a little bit.
  • Drip the penetrating oil down the valve’s shaft and give it some time to soak in. Use your hammer to help the oil’s distribution by lightly tapping the body of the valve. The key word is lightly – you don’t want to unnecessarily damage anything. Try turning the valve with your hand after tapping a few times. If you can feel it loosening up, add some more oil, tap, and turn. Rinse and repeat until it’s fully open.
  • Use your hair dryer to heat up the valve body to melt any gunk and grime that’s built up and solidified into an adhesive. Once you can feel the valve turning, wiggle it back and forth to let the gunk and grime wash away.
  • Use your wrench to loosen the bonnet or packing nut. It's located right beneath the handle, and the stem of the valve runs right through it. Once you’ve loosened the nut, turn the valve back and forth to free it up – penetrating oil could help you here if you’re having trouble.

Before you call it a day, turn your water back on and check to see if any water is leaking out around the valve. You may need to give the packing nut a quarter turn to create a waterproof seal again.

Whether you can’t fix the problem on your own or if you’d feel more comfortable calling in the professionals to give you a hand, our team of professionals at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain are ready to help you any day of the year, any time of the day. Give us a call at 888-794-0341 to schedule a free home consultation, or find your nearest bluefrog Plumbing + Drain location by entering your address on our online map.

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Categories: Plumbing, Bathroom Tips

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