Replacing the main water valve - is that a DIY thing?

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Old 02-11-16, 08:22 AM
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Replacing the main water valve - is that a DIY thing?

Working in my kitchen and 2nd time I'm turning off the water main coming into the house in the last few months (the other was when we took a trip - are we paranoid that we turn off the main?).

Realizing it doesn't shut off water completely (it's the old style multi turn valve) and it's sweated on, in front of the water meter.

a) is replacing this something a DIY can do?
b) you have to get the water company to shut the main at the street? It's winter and there's a foot of snow on the lawn / not really sure where the shut off is : )
c) Could we ADD a ball valve? No room on the street side of the water meter. Put it after the water meter and just use that to shut water / leave the multi turn in place?
d) would you use compression or sweat it? My (limited experience - with the multi turn valves - is that even if I open the valve, I wind up overheating it when trying to sweat it. not an issue with ball valve? Or is compression just as good / reliable?

THANKS!
 
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Old 02-11-16, 08:42 AM
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There is nothing wrong with shutting the water when you go on a trip. You can shut the service from the street, if you have the tool. I would sweat the pipe instead of using a compression fitting. A pic might help in regards to the space problem.
 
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Old 02-11-16, 09:17 AM
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Thanks! Nice to know that just 'cause I'm paranoid, they aren't out to get me : )

The tool - being paranoid, I'm kinda surprised at myself not knowing a) where the lawn shutoff is and b) not having the tool. Is there a diy way to make the tool? Source to buy it

I'm trying to remember where I saw the valve. Usually in the grass? Dont' remember that. In the street? Don't see the blue cover. dirt / grass covering it?! Then what?


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Old 02-11-16, 09:19 AM
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Where specifically is your water meter located? Around here they are buried underground usually near the street and there is a shutoff on the water main side that is the cities responsibility. Even if your meter is inside do you have a cover or some other access in your yard that might contain a shutoff?

If the shutoff inside your house doesn't shut off the water completely I would replace it with a quarter turn ball valve sweated in line where the old valve used to be. Installing it will require the water to be turned off at the street.

No, you are not paranoid to turn your water off when gone for extended periods. If a pipe bursts while your gone it greatly minimizes the damage. Just image the furnace dying and a pipe freezes and bursts and water is gushing for a week until you come home. With the shutoff closed the only water that can leak is what is in the pipes.
 
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Old 02-11-16, 09:23 AM
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The shutoff tool is available at most plumbing suppliers and the plumbing dept of home centers. They are easy to make if you have some scrap steel and a welder. Down here the street shutoff is usually only about 18" down so it can be opened/closed with a adjustable wrench and a screwdriver but yours is probably buried too deep and would require the tool.

Your shutoff is not sweated on. It has threaded fittings so it can be unscrewed and removed and a new ball valve screwed on in it's place. The big gotcha is you need to break the pipe somewhere so things can turn. Look for a union fitting on either side of your meter.
 
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Old 02-11-16, 09:52 AM
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Pilot, thank you so much for all the info. The water meter is that box at the top of the picture (actually the box is electronics to send the reading wirelessly to the person reading it in a car? The water part of the meter is behind it / just as the pipe goes horizontal after the valve.

I have to get that tool. Me cranking down on the packing / knob to get the flow on the meter to stop (I opened a faucet upstairs), I envisioned what woudl happen if something broke... call the water company, wait for them to come... and basement flooded by then!
 
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Old 02-11-16, 10:25 AM
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The packing nut will not stop the flow of water to the meter. It (the packing nut) is tightened to stop leaking from the valve stem below the knob. You'd tighten it if you had water dripping from the faucet onto the floor.

Before the water shutoff tool will do any good you first need to find the shutoff. If you contact the city water dept they might be able to locate it for you.
 
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Old 02-11-16, 12:42 PM
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One caveat when using the utility's shut-off valve, if you break it you will pay to have it fixed and may be charged for any additional damages caused by the flood of water. This can add up VERY quickly so be forewarned. The possibility of breaking the valve increases with the time since the valve was last used.

Some utility's are very picky about anyone using their valves and will actually fine you if they find out. These will generally have a really funky valve that requires a correspondingly funky wrench. The more common one is a five-sided pyramid style that will not accept anything but the real thing. Seattle had these (probably still does) 30+ years ago and it was impossible to buy the wrench inside the city limits.

Some will come out and turn the water on or off for free, others will charge and that charge might be pretty high. Looking at my most recent water bill the charge is $28. It doesn't say if turning it back on is free but I vaguely remember years ago that each trip was a charge. Tampering with the meter is a charge in excess of $300 here.

Before you do anything I suggest that you call the utility and ask if they will replace the valve since it is before their meter. Some will and some won't.

Adding a valve AFTER the meter is always a good idea. There is no doubt that a valve after the meter belongs to the homeowner and can be used as needed. If you post a wider angle picture showing the meter and your piping I can better advise.
 
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Old 02-11-16, 01:40 PM
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The shutoffs used in my town are very simple. Just a bar sort of like the inverse of a straight blade screwdriver so even a wrench will work. And, my town has no problem with you turning the water on or off as long as the service is "on". If they catch you turning on water that has been turned off (like for lack of payment) then they get quite upset.

 
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Old 02-11-16, 01:59 PM
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If you do tackle this yourself it would be easiest t install a new threaded valve.. There are already two male adapters on each end..

Once the union is broke down turn off the spud off the valve. Then turn the valve off the male adapter. ( You will need two wrenches. One to hold back as not to twist the copper.)

Then teflon tape and pipe dope the male adapters and assemble the new valve in reverse order...

Just find a valve with similar dimensions from face to face...

 
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Old 02-11-16, 03:41 PM
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Well, call me jaded and paranoid (I do myself routinely). As I was on hold for NJ american water, they have a pitch for their water line maintenance service 'because you are responsible for the lines in the ground on your property'. I figured there's no way they would do anything more than supply water without charging. But I described the location of the valve relative to the meter and she said 'that's our responsibility' and they are supposedly coming out tomorrow AM to fix / replace it...

Check back tomorrow to see if they band aid the existing valve, replace it or get here and say the woman on the phone is mistaken, there'll be some big $$ charge to do the work... or (again, jaded me) add a charge for 'coming out without doing work / homeowner declined'.

THANKS FURD!!
 
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Old 02-11-16, 04:37 PM
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Let us know..

Put your county in your profile.. I could help you better...
 
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Old 02-12-16, 09:24 AM
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Well, I waited till 11 when NJ american water said they'd be here. They don't show. I call them. They say 'they were there and everything looks ok'. I have security camera on my driveway / watching it on my phone. No one has been here.

Oh, the ticket said there was a problem with your meter reading. They read it from the street.

No, they were supposed to replace the shutoff valve.

Oh, that's not our responsibility.

F___ them!
 
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Old 02-12-16, 09:54 AM
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Lawrosa - can't change water providers...but really abhor dealing with companies that don't have their act together.

How feasible is drilling a well? We are in Somerset county (Warren Twp - up on a mountain / hill.

We have an inground sprinkler system so our water bill in the summer spikes to $200 - $400 / month.

Install costs? ongoing maintenance costs? Recommendations for a well drilling company?
 
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Old 02-12-16, 01:54 PM
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wells are expensive in NJ.. About 50 bucks a foot.. Most well drillers go about 150 ft plus..

Call around and get estimates.. With well and cost your pay back may take a long time. Add that to an increased electric bill for running the pump..

I would call a plumber to get an estimite for another meter for the irrigation.. You will be charged differently and sewer removed from that bill..

About $700 for the spuds and then whatever the plumber charges.. Im sure American water will want thier hand in the cookie jar also..

While the plumber is there have him add the valve for you...

Thats what I would do if it were my home...
 
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