Replacing a Shutoff Valve
Sep 16, 2016
You may go years without needing to worry about the shutoff valve underneath your sink. Eventually, you’ll reach down to shut off the water supply and notice that your once-trusty valve has worn out, leaks, and is in desperate need of care. Before you break out the toolbox, take note of what kind of plumbing your house has – if you live in a house with older galvanized piping, you should stop right now and call in a professional. Even if it seems like an easy fix, you won’t know what state your pipes are in, and if the threads have rotted or the insides have rusted, you could easily turn this quick fix into a much larger and costly plumbing issue.
There are three types of valves you may have installed in your house – sweat, compression, and threaded – and each of them requires different steps to replace. First, you’ll need to take note of the type of valve you’ll be fixing and pick up a replacement from the store. The first and third steps apply to all three valve types:
- Step 1: Head to the main shutoff valve to turn off the water supply to your house. Turn off the circuit breakers if you have an electric water heater; turn the knob to the position marked “pilot” if you have a gas water heater. To drain your pipes, turn on a sink on an upper floor of your home and a sink on the lowest level. Once that’s done, remove the supply tube from the valve you’re about to replace.
- Threaded Valve Step 2: This is the easiest type of valve to replace. Simply unscrew the old valve from the pipe, and screw on the new one.
- Sweat Valve Step 2: This replacement will require a soldering torch, flux, a wire-brush, pliers, gloves, a fire extinguisher, a flame-protection cloth, and a damp rag.
- First, use your pair of pliers to take hold of the valve and loosen the packing nut so you can unscrew the full valve system. Take a look inside and pull out the old washer if you notice that it’s stuck, and allow any excess water to drain out.
- Next, cover up the copper tubing with your cloth and tape it down against the wall so it stays secure. Set the soldering torch so it’s only giving off a small flame and point it towards the valve’s body. The instant the solder melts, pull off the valve with your pliers. You may need to twist as you pull. If you haven’t already, put on your gloves – leather is best – and use the torch to heat up the remaining solder until it’s molten.
- Once it’s ready, take a damp rag and wipe away any excess so the new sweat valve can slide into the tubing. Pull off the stem so you can use the wire-brush on the new valve’s opening, and apply flux to the copper tubing and valve.
- Before taking down the cloth, use the torch to heat up the valve to draw the solder in.
- Compression Valve Step 2: For this replacement, you’ll need to have a hacksaw, wrench, pliers, pipe dope, and flathead screwdriver.
- First, use the pliers to hold the body of the valve and use the wrench to loosen the compression nut. Once it’s loose, remove the old valve from the copper tubing. Now that it’s off, take hold of the old compression sleeve – be gentle, otherwise you risk distorting the copper tubing – and pull it off.
- If it’s stuck, you may need to take the hacksaw and cut partway through the sleeve at an angle. Make sure you stop before hitting the copper tubing.
- Push your flathead screwdriver into the cut and twist it so you can break off the sleeve and pull it off. Push the replacement sleeve onto the tubing.
- Once that’s done, slide the new compression nut and escutcheon onto the tubing, and push the replacement sleeve onto the tubing. If the old sleeve left marks, attach the replacement a little bit ahead of them.
- Attach the replacement valve, and use the pipe dope to apply a fine coating to the sleeve. Finally, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to screw on and tighten the compression nut onto the valve.
- Step 3: Once you’ve replaced the valve, close it off and reopen the main shutoff valve. Turn the upper and lower sinks back on, and the water to push all air out of the pipes. Once that’s done, turn the sinks off and check your new valve for any leaks. If you’re satisfied with your work, turn your water heater back on.
If you don’t have too much experience using the tools needed to replace a shutoff valve, it may be best to call in the professionals to handle the work for you. At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, our team is prepared to handle all of your plumbing needs any time of the day, any day of the year. Find your nearest location by filling out your state and city or zip code, or call us at 888-794-0341 to schedule an appointment today.