Suggestions on replacing this main shutoff valve

Reply

  #1  
Old 02-11-14, 11:16 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Suggestions on replacing this main shutoff valve

Hello. I've replaced several main water shutoffs on copper pipe but this one has me a bit stumped just because it's got threaded fittings and I'm not even sure what type of valve to replace it with. Just to the right of the valve is the water meter (sorry for the quality of the photo - this is actually in the back of a dark closet and I had to use the cell phone flash to light it). In front of the meter, on the other side, is a larger gate-type of valve that doesn't even budge. I'm inclined to leave that one alone as it's got wider piping and I'm not sure if it's even copper, galvanized, etc.

Anyhow, does anyone have any suggestions, comments, etc. on how to go about this? I'd like to replace this with a ball valve but how would I even get this one off?
 
Attached Images  
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 02-11-14, 05:08 PM
Z
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 5,131
Received 84 Votes on 79 Posts
That brass nut attached to the water meter is part of a union. So with the water off, you should be able to remove that nut, separating the water meter from the rest of the piping. Then off comes the nipple and the valve. Be sure to use two wrenches, you don't want to snap the copper piping. I believe the brass-looking nipple is actually part of the water meter union, so you'll reuse that piece.

Replace it with a 1/4 turn ball valve so you don't have issues in the future.

Be sure to start the project early in the day in case you need to make an extra trip or two to the hardware/plumbing store.
 
  #3  
Old 02-11-14, 06:23 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 34 Votes on 26 Posts
Remove any backdrop and floor cover and then take another picture from a few feet away so we can see the ENTIRE installation.
 
  #4  
Old 02-11-14, 06:32 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 18,139
Received 55 Votes on 48 Posts
Also if you cant close the other side ( not sure what side comes from the street) You will need to have the water company come shut off the water at the curb....

With that said, while its off change both valves.....
 
  #5  
Old 02-12-14, 09:10 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Wow, thanks for the replies! This is at our other property (old townhouse stepdaughter lives in) so I'll have to get back over there and get a few more photos. I've already contacted the city for the procedure to get them to cut off the water; that's obviously necessary. (I've changed main shutoffs before, but they've always just been 3/4" sweat connections.) I'll get pictures of the whole contraption, the meter, and also try and get the other side of this valve and will post back in a day or two.

Thanks again, everyone - back soon with pics!
 
  #6  
Old 02-22-14, 11:57 PM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Got some new pics finally. Here are a couple of pictures of the whole contraption:

Name:  20140222_163741.jpg
Views: 1205
Size:  32.0 KB

Name:  20140222_163922.jpg
Views: 1110
Size:  29.7 KB
 
  #7  
Old 02-23-14, 12:03 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The larger valve on the front that won't budge at all. (Looks like 1" pipe.. I'm guessing this is the incoming feed from the street?)

Name:  resize3.jpg
Views: 1366
Size:  37.1 KB

Name:  resize2.jpg
Views: 1231
Size:  31.0 KB

This is the back of the valve on the 3/4" section (the first pic I posted at the beginning of the thread).

Name:  resize5.jpg
Views: 1144
Size:  20.1 KB
 
  #8  
Old 02-23-14, 12:53 AM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 34 Votes on 26 Posts
Starting from the right-hand side you have a copper tube going into what looks like a Ford flared connector (it could be a standard flared connector) and then into a 1 inch, screwed bonnet gate valve (Stockham ?) Out of the valve you have a reducing elbow to a 3/4 inch water meter union, the water meter, another meter union and then a 3/4 inch screwed bonnet gate valve. Out of this valve you have a 3/4 inch sweat/male thread 90 degree elbow.

It will be necessary to have the water shut off at the curb stop, most likely by the water utility, and then remove the meter by unscrewing the union nuts on the meter body. IF the nuts are "sealed" by a wire running through an "ear" on the nuts with a lead seal then you will likely need the water utility involved here as well as shutting off the water outside. Once the meter is out of the way you can then unscrew the Ford nut using two wrenches to avoid "torquing" the copper. Remove the Ford fitting from the 1 inch gate valve along with the reducing elbow with the meter union and transfer both to a 1 inch ball valve. You may need to get a different nipple between the valve and the elbow if the new valve is a different body length than the old valve. Use a good Teflon paste thread sealant or Rectorseal number 5 joint compound on the male threads only.

Unscrew the 3/4 inch gate valve from the copper elbow and then the meter union from the valve and transfer them to a new ball valve. Screw this assembly to the copper elbow and then replace the meter. Close the 1 inch valve and then have the curb stop opened. Slowly open the 1 inch valve and then slowly open the 3/4 inch valve. Although unlikely, you may need to change the gaskets in the meter unions to prevent any leaks.

It is possible the water utility will replace the 1 inch valve for a reasonable cost and if so I would recommend this. Closing and opening the curb stop could be a problem and the last thing YOU want to do is damage this valve. Having a plumber or the utility open and close the curb stop transfers all the liability to them.
 
  #9  
Old 02-24-14, 08:39 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
That's great info, thanks! The city will turn off the water outside for me but they say everything inside the house is my responsibility.

A few questions:

Do you think I'll be able to even get these nuts things to budge? They've been that way since the house was built in 1980. I have a couple of large adjustable (crescent) wrenches and one big old pipe wrench (that's for gripping iron though I believe since copper is too soft; please correct me if I'm wrong on that and can use it in another capacity here.)

Can the flare fittings just be reconnected? I shouldn't need any sealant on those right?

What seal would I need to replace on the meter itself? From talking to the city, it doesn't sound like they'll provide any help whatsoever for inside the house.

Is the teflon tape I see sticking out not necessary? I'll get some rectorseal 5. They have the little cans of it at Lowes. It says that it can be pressurized instantly. It goes on the male threads of every fitting I screw in, correct?

Finally, how do I remove that reducer elbow? The elbow on the other side has a square section you can see that I can grip with a wrench to hold it but the reducer one doesn't. Should I plan on replacing that piece?

Thanks again very much for the time!!
 
  #10  
Old 02-25-14, 01:41 AM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 34 Votes on 26 Posts
Do you think I'll be able to even get these nuts things to budge?
The union nuts on the meter? Absolutely! They seal against a gasket and are usually not very tight. The gasket may be compressed fiber or rubber or in some cases even an O-ring.

The Ford (flare) nut before the first valve will be a bit tighter. You MUST use two wrenches and hold the part in the valve while unscrewing the swivel nut. There WILL be water so prepare for a mess. Use a wet/dry shop vac to clean up the water.

Can the flare fittings just be reconnected? I shouldn't need any sealant on those right?
Yes, the flare can just be reconnected. Make certain the mating surfaces are clean. No sealant on the mating surface.

What seal would I need to replace on the meter itself?
Just the gaskets. It is possible the existing gaskets may be reusable or you can cut new ones from some sheet rubber available at any decent hardware store in the plumbing section or maybe even an O-ring of the correct dimensions.

Is the teflon tape I see sticking out not necessary? I'll get some rectorseal 5. They have the little cans of it at Lowes. It says that it can be pressurized instantly. It goes on the male threads of every fitting I screw in, correct?
Teflon tape is not necessary and often leaks when used by itself. The Rectorseal IS a good product. Yes, it goes on the male threads ONLY and try to not get it on the first thread or two. You don't need a lot, just enough to fill the bottom of the threads is more than ample. It is used ONLY on the tapered pipe threads and not the flared fitting or the meter unions.

Finally, how do I remove that reducer elbow? The elbow on the other side has a square section you can see that I can grip with a wrench to hold it but the reducer one doesn't. Should I plan on replacing that piece?
Take out the meter first and push it aside. You will need to cut the wire tie bundling the cable from the meter to the totalizer box to give you enough slack. Them remove the incoming Ford (flare) connection and this will allow you to remove the flare fitting, the 1-inch valve, brass nipple, reducing elbow and meter connection as a unit. Clamp the valve in a vise and preferably using a box-end wrench (alternatively a close fitting adjustable wrench) remove the flare fitting.
This will likely be screwed in quite tightly and will require some muscle. Be careful the wrench doesn't slip and harm the flare fitting. Using a pipe wrench remove the brass nipple from the valve. Again, this will take some muscle. Do NOT remove the nipple or the meter fitting from the reducing elbow.

Clean the pipe threads on both the brass nipple and the flare fitting and add a bit of Rectorseal then thread them into the new ball valve, tightening them to allow for the proper orientation of the valve handle. Do NOT back up to make the orientation correct but continue around until the handle is clear for operation. Install this assembly back to the Ford connection on the incoming water line only tightening the Ford nut hand tight for now.

Remove the meter union from the 3/4 inch valve and the 3/4 inch valve from the copper elbow. You may need to take the valve apart to accomplish this, the valve comes apart at the "bonnet" (upper part) from the "body" by using a pair of wrenches, one on the body and one on the bonnet flat portion. If it is easier remove the valve and meter union as a unit from the elbow. Be sure to "back up" the elbow to prevent torquing the copper piping. Clean the pipe threads on both the elbow and the meter union and apply a bit of the Rectorseal to the threads and screw all three together, tightening as appropriate to have the handle of the ball valve operational. Finally, re-install the meter, using new gaskets if necessary, and then tighten the meter unions AND the Ford nut on the incoming water. Have the city turn the curb stop on again slowly open the first ball valve, checking for any leaks. Do the same for the second ball valve. If the Ford nut leaks slightly try tightening it a bit at a time until it stops. If any of the threaded joints leak you will need to start over.
 
  #11  
Old 02-26-14, 08:10 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I went and purchased the 3/4" and 1" valves at Lowes last night. I actually saw a water meter hookup kit which was basically that piece coming off the water meter with the gasket and the nut. It looks like a typical garden hose O-ring so I picked up the 10 pack of those for 99 cents and will just replace them regardless.

I don't have a vise so I'll have to improvise on that flare fitting somehow. Couldn't I just hold the flare fitting where it is with one wrench and spin the valve right off that way?

If I need a different length coming out of the valve, how do you suggest getting the 1" nipple out of the reducer elbow though without destroying the elbow? Just hold it with one wrench horizontally and twist off the nipple with a pipe wrench? I'm just not sure where/how to grip these pieces. And the how to I screw the replacement one back in tightly without damaging it?

The 3/4" elbow is already at the right height and it has a square portion so gripping that one should be a lot easier. I should be able to just hold that one in place and spin off the 3/4" valve right there (with the meter out of the way, of course). I think I'm making this a lot more complicated than it is; the only part I'm unsure about now is swapping that nipple since I don't know how to torque it without damaging it. (Funny - if these were sweat fittings I'd already be done with it. I think my brain is backwards. Soldering is easy for me; unscrewing is complicated. Weird.)
 
  #12  
Old 02-26-14, 08:46 AM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 34 Votes on 26 Posts
Compare the lengths of the new valves and the old valves, if they are the same you are almost home.

Not having a vise complicates things but you CAN use two wrenches, one to hold the fitting and the other to turn the piece you are removing. Bracing one on the floor can help in holding. Getting the flare fitting out of the valve will work by holding the valve with a wrench against the floor and then the other wrench to remove the fitting. DON'T try to remove the valve with the flare fittings attached to each other or you WILL break the copper tubing from the concrete and then you will REALLY wish that you had let a plumber do the work.

You do NOT want to remove ANYTHING from the reducing union as long as the length of the new valve and the old valve (the one-inch valves) is the same. You DO want to remove the nipple on the reducing elbow from the one-inch valve. You will probably need a pipe wrench on the nipple to ensure it unscrews from the valve and not the elbow. You can rent a 14 inch pipe wrench if you don't have one and don't want to buy one. When adjusting the pipe wrench make sure you have three-point contact with the nipple, the adjustable jaw, the fixed jaw and the inside back of the adjustable jaw all touching the nipple.

The garden hose O-rings may be a bit on the small side for the meter unions.

Yes, you are over thinking this job.
 
  #13  
Old 02-27-14, 11:59 AM
S
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 9
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Well I just can't thank you enough for your advice! I've decided I'm going to get a new pipe wrench at harbor freight the next time I'm there. (I wonder if I should wrap a rag or something around the nipple when I grab it with the pipe wrench?) One nice thing about this is that the townhouse is literally a few hundred yards from a home depot, so I'm not far from any additional pieces I might need during the process. Just out of paranoia, I'm going to start early in the morning so I have time to acquire more parts or call a plumber if I get stuck.

Unfortunately, I just found out that the city won't come out for at least a few weeks to turn off the water unless it's an emergency due to the cold (Chicago 'burbs). And any appointment I make is tentative, too. As it is, the box is hiding somewhere under the snow so that would probably be an issue too.... heh. It looks like I have to wait until spring. So after all of this, I'm stuck! However, I promise I will come back and post pics of the finished project when it's done.
 
  #14  
Old 02-27-14, 01:03 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 34 Votes on 26 Posts
No, don't wrap a rag around the nipple, that will just cause the wrench to slip. Be sure to let us know how it turns out and don't forget a couple of pictures of the finished job.

My bill is in the mail.
 
Reply
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: