Unable to shut off water main inside the house - Tap too tight

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Old 06-28-11, 09:16 PM
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Unable to shut off water main inside the house - Tap too tight

Hello experts,
I was trying to shut off the supply to the rest of the house so that I could work on the kitchen sink plumbing.

There are 2 taps at the point where water comes into the house in the basement.
There is a meter in between the 2 taps. I am unable to turn either tap to the right. They were probably never turned in 20 years. I did not try to use excessive force.
I sprayed some WD40 around the area, but no luck. These are the kind of taps that you have to turn several times, unlike those 90-degree lever type ones.

Any advice to loosen these taps is appreciated.

Thanks
Alex
 
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Old 06-28-11, 10:54 PM
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Hi.

If your going to try to turn ant of them turn the one on the house side of the meter. It sounds like a gate valve, and the stems like to break. They can break open, closed, or in between somewhere. The reason for trying the house side valve is because if it breaks you may still be able to turn off the street side valve to replace the house side. If you break the street side valve then the water will need to be turned off at the street to replace. And if you get that far just change them both.

The only advice I could give is to loosen the packing nut where the stem goes into. Alittle water will leak but you have a better chance of it not breaking. Also you should use a channel lock on the handle if you cant turn by hand, and actually open the valve alittle before trying to close it. I mean a little nudge, thats all.

Then the other problem is if it dont break and you get it closed it may not hold. Meaning even off water still leaks through. So what most homeowners do is try to crank down on it. "Snap". " Gee whiz the handle just keeps splinning"

Give it a try and if it does break, I would replace both valve with ball valves. If you call the town they will turn the water off at the curb.

This is if you have such a curb stop.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 06-29-11, 04:32 AM
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Mike, how does that work in your area. Down here, all meters are at the street, usually with an electronic sending unit for reading the meter. The municipality is responsible for everything to your shut off, which is right after the meter. In an instance where meters are in the house, does that mean the municipality is responsible to just past the meter? Curious.
 
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Old 06-29-11, 09:44 AM
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The township here is responsible up to your meter. ( If at the street in a pit) But if your meter is in the home they are responsible for the meter and piping up to the curb key shut off at the street. The homeowner is responsible for the pipe from the curb key to the meter. ( most homes have a stop at the curb. A 2" pipe down to the key below the frost level. A long tee handle key shuts it off.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 06-29-11, 03:23 PM
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More than likely, both of the existing valves are gate valves. They are notorious for sticking unless they are exercised periodically. Even it you get one of the valves to close, it's very possible that it won't shut off tight. Gate valves were popular for main shut-off service years ago, before ball valves became common.

I would just go ahead and have the water shut off at the street, and replace both valves (with full-port ball valves, as mentioned). It's possible that there will be a small fee to shut the curb stop. After you get both valves replaced, you'll call them back to re-open the curb stop - but ask them to wait until you leak check your work.

Before you have them shut the curb stop, make sure you have all your material and tools ready - to minimize the time you are without water. Good luck.
 
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Old 06-29-11, 06:25 PM
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Sometimes when you get the gates to close, you might not be able to open them.

I decided to install a ball valve after my meter. The gate valve on the other side of the meter did turn easily, but it didn't close all the way. Luckily it had a waste on the side. I opened that up and the water that was getting by the gate was sent out of the waste and I was able to get my soldering done. The waste is a small thumb screw on the side of a valve. It is there so when you close a valve, you can drain the pipe that you just shut the water off to.
 
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Old 06-29-11, 07:13 PM
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The waste is a small thumb screw on the side of a valve. It is there so when you close a valve, you can drain the pipe that you just shut the water off to.
Its amazing how many plumbers use these valves and dont know which way to install them. I always seem to find the valve where the waste drains the wrong side of wherever they are installed. I was taught to install them always to the street. But I guess in depends. Even the stops that have actual arrows on them to show direction get installed wrong.

Mike NJ
 
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