Copper pipe shut off valves

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Old 05-19-14, 12:56 PM
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Copper pipe shut off valves

Hi Guys,

I have a few valves which leak at the stem. The valves are original to the house (older than 60 years) and are all multi-turn screw type. I examined the stems and all are corroded enough that using graphite/teflon packing does not work to stop the seeping. Valve #1 is the main shut off that leads to the street. Valve #2 is in the hot water boiler system and leads to the compression tank. These two are the most urgent and the ones I am looking to fix right now.
They are both soldered on.
My first question is - Which is better, solder or compression?
My second question is - Which is better, 1/4 turn or the old multi-turn screw type?

My skillset doesn't include expertise at soldering copper pipes.
I know that the guy that installed the laundry hookups used compression fittings and those have showed no signs of failing so far. So my question is - Are compression fittings generally as dependable as soldered fittings?

Also, do 1/4 turn fittings suffer from the sickness of mineral deposits like the screw type ones do?

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-19-14, 01:35 PM
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Compression are generally fine, but given the option I'd use solder on. They can be replaced without losing any pipe length. Sometimes you need to cut the pipe if the compression ring or nut gets damaged, or a replacement valve has slightly different parts.

Ball valves (1/4 turn) all the way.

As to deposits, I dunno, but I would think less of an issue since the sealing surface is a teflon like material.
 
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Old 05-19-14, 03:57 PM
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Soldered fittings, when done correctly, are far superior to compression fittings. This is especially true if you are comparing the low-grade compression fittings usually available at the big box mega-mart homecenters. For residential usage the 1/4 turn ball valve is superior to the multi-turn globe or gate valve.

I have a few valves which leak at the stem. The valves are original to the house (older than 60 years) and are all multi-turn screw type. I examined the stems and all are corroded enough that using graphite/teflon packing does not work to stop the seeping. Valve #1 is the main shut off that leads to the street. Valve #2 is in the hot water boiler system and leads to the compression tank. These two are the most urgent and the ones I am looking to fix right now. They are both soldered on.

So my question is - Are compression fittings generally as dependable as soldered fittings?
Also, do 1/4 turn fittings suffer from the sickness of mineral deposits like the screw type ones do?
Stem corrosion can usually be removed with a stiff brass wire brush. Once clean the packing should seal without problem.

I don't like soldered valves for two reasons, the first is it is too easy to damage the valve by overheating in the initial installation and second, it makes it much harder to replace the valve when necessary.. I prefer threaded adapters and a union on one side that will allow the valve to be easily removed and removes any danger of overheating while installing. There are lots of plumbers that will disagree with me on these points but especially for a homeowner it is the easier and more prudent method in my opinion.

Compression fittings ARE reliable when quality fittings are applied properly. Unfortunately, quality fittings are getting harder and harder to find, especially at a reasonable price. I had two pipes in my crawlspace I needed to fit up for my whirlpool bathtub and I fought the cheap compression fittings for more than an hour trying to get a leak-proof joint. I didn't really want to use a torch in the confining space that also had insulation in the joist spaces but in the end I did just that and I finished the job in maybe ten minutes or less.

The mineral deposits only occur when there is leakage at the packing nut. Ball valve also have a packing nut so they are also subject to the mineral deposits. The cure is to keep the packing nut snugged up enough to stop any leakage.
 
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Old 05-20-14, 04:12 AM
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Go with solder and thread adapter. Quarter turn ball valve are the current preferred valve. As Furd suggested I would try the emery cloth on the stem and try new gland seal. Worth a try and nearly no cost. But you'll want to replace all washers also. Maybe at hat point replacement of valve is just as easy.
 
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Old 05-20-14, 09:23 AM
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I tried the emery cloth thing but with poor results because of the corrosion on those 60+ year old stems. I considered changing the 'guts' of the valves, but I wasn't sure about the availability and price of the replacement. Which is why I'm considering changing out the valves.
I'm not real comfortable with soldering copper which is why I was leaning towards compression type connections. I have seen threaded valves which I was told can use soldered connections - does anyone know how that works and how it is laid out? Any visual aids would be greatly appreciated. lol
Also, how dependable are the 'sharkbite' fittings I have heard about?

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-21-14, 01:43 AM
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If you can get high quality compression fittings, may have to go to a real plumbing supply store, AND you are careful, the compression fittings will be just fine. Sharkbites are another good option although they are wildly expensive. You CAN get valves that already have Sharkbite fittings on each end but again, they are expensive.

Regardless of which method you use, soldered, compression or Sharkbite, take a Scotchbrite pad and thoroughly clean the copper where you decide to cut the pipe and install the fittings. Don't use emery cloth or sandpaper unless you have a layer of paint to remove and if so use a fine sandpaper or emery cloth and follow up with the Scotchbrite.
 
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