Can't access water main shutoff valve at street - installed at bad angle


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Old 05-21-17, 12:11 PM
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Can't access water main shutoff valve at street - installed at bad angle

Don't know if anyone has encountered this mess, but when I unearthed my buried water main shutoff valve, which was under soil and grass and missing the metal cover, I discovered that the valve is positioned at an angle that doesn't allow for the valve wrench to seat on it. I can only guess that it was installed improperly when the house was built (in the late 50's), but have no way of knowing. The inspectors never checked the water main before I bought the place (I guess that's not part of an inspection, maybe). Since the Philly water company says that I am responsible for everything past the main line itself, it looks like I would have to foot the bill to have the valve replaced. Is there any specialty-type wrench that might be able to reach the angled valve, or any trick any of you experts know to solve this problem without a major project and huge expense? Thanks in advance for your help!
 
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Old 05-21-17, 12:14 PM
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Valve

Post a photo of the shut off valve so we can see what you see.

In our jurisdiction, the city is responsible for the shut of valve.
 
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Old 05-21-17, 12:15 PM
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Could you post a picture of this so we can see what you see?? The city is wrong as the valve and meter belongs to them. Everything PAST the valve is yours. They installed it, they should correct it.
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...your-post.html
 
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Old 05-21-17, 12:29 PM
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I had to fill the opening back in, since the cover was missing, and I haven't been able to find a replacement. That was a trip-and-fall lawsuit waiting to happen. I'm going to dig it back out this week, and rig some sort of temporary cover (any ideas?). What I saw when I tried to test the valve was what looked like a cast iron pipe leading down to the valve and meter, with the valve skewed at an angle, not facing straight up into the pipe, so I couldn't get the valve wrench to seat on it. As for responsibility, this is from the illustrious Phila. Water Dept.:
"From Street to Sink: Water System Responsibility
Customer Responsibility in a Combined Sewer Area
Once drinking water leaves the PWD water main in the street, it becomes the customer’s responsibility. This
means that customers must repair faulty plumbing that connects our water main to their home as well as the
plumbing inside the home. This includes:
Ferrule (J): Connection valve to the water main.
Water Service Pipe (K): Piping connected to the water main.
Curb Stop (M): Valves used to turn water on/off to the property.
Water Supply Pipe (L): Pipe connected from the curb stop that carries water into the house.
Supply Valves (O): Valves used to isolate the water meter and to turn water on/off to the house.
Curb Stop Box (N): Cover to protect the curb stop valve.
Water Meter protection and access (P): Meter is owned and maintained by PWD; owners must keep the meter
accessible and protected, especially from freezing."
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Last edited by flukeslapper; 05-21-17 at 02:06 PM. Reason: add image
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Old 05-21-17, 01:57 PM
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Why do you need to turn the main off ?
 
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Old 05-21-17, 02:53 PM
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I need to be ABLE to turn the main off in an emergency. Also, I'd like to replace the in-house shut-off in the near future.
 
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Old 05-21-17, 07:34 PM
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The reason I asked is because I needed to change a main shut off valve too and didn't want to mess with the street main.

I had two gate valves that wouldn't fully shut off. One before the meter and one after it.

I shut the valve off on the incoming line and then loosened the union on the water meter. This allowed the water to drip in a bucket. Once I did that I was able to replace the house side valve with a ball valve. Now I have a good reliable shutoff valve in place.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 05-21-17 at 09:11 PM. Reason: changed gate valve to ball valve
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Old 05-21-17, 08:15 PM
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Thanks for the followup, Pete. My situation is similar, except that I don't trust either of the existing valves inside the house at this point, and they're both before the meter. I'd feel much safer knowing that I could cut the flow outside, before attempting any work inside. I'm curious why you used another gate valve, rather than a ball valve. I've seen people recommending the ball valve for the replacement.
 
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Old 05-21-17, 09:11 PM
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Wow... a slip on my part. I corrected my post. I did use a ball valve for the new one.
 
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Old 05-22-17, 11:49 AM
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Pliers

I have used lock joint pliers in the past to turn street valve off and on. How deep in the ground is the valve?
 
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Old 05-22-17, 07:31 PM
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Looked like at least 2.5 or 3 feet down. The problem is the angle of the valve. When I get it dug up again, I'll try and get some pictures posted. Still difficult to believe that the homeowner is responsible for the shutoff, but we're talking Philly here.
 
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Old 05-23-17, 11:01 AM
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Welcome to Philly. They'd make you pay for all the piping back to the reservoir if they could. I learned that lesson about a month after moving in and finding a sinkhole in the road. Turns out the sinkhole was due to cracks in my sewer pipe, though a few feet out into the road. Yup, I paid for it to be repaired.

Anyway, how much of an angle is your curb stop valve? Can you run a 4" pipe at an angle to ground level so you can use a curb stop key at an angle?
 
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Old 05-23-17, 04:49 PM
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Tell the city to come turn the water off so you can replace or correct the position of the cut off valve. See what their answer is. If the valve is YOUR responsibility, tell them they can't use your cut off and have to devise a method of doing it without using it.
 
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Old 05-24-17, 01:37 PM
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Larry, that comment cracked me up! The scary part is that it's perfectly logical. Logic, sadly, has no application in Philly. I tried both their web site and email address to contact them about this issue, and they've ignored me completely.
 
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Old 05-24-17, 01:47 PM
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Sorry to hear about your misfortune, Zorfdt. I never understood how they get away with denying responsibility for repairing their own equipment.

I'm not sure whether the pipe leading to the valve is attached somehow to the main pipe or not. It's quite a ways down, so attacking it from a different angle is questionable, but I might have to try it, anyway. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
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Old 05-24-17, 01:54 PM
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Photo of pipe leading to shutoff valve

Not much of a helpful shot. The pipe leading to the valve is full of soil at the moment, and it's much narrower than I remembered. The top is 4" diameter, but it quickly narrows, so it's a real joy to deal with. On the bright side, when I dug up the surrounding grass and soil that had buried the pipe, I found the missing metal cap! Now, I'm in the process of re-grading the lawn around the pipe, so it won't get swallowed up again. Name:  water main pipe.jpg
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Old 05-25-17, 08:06 AM
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New question about the pipe leading to stop valve

Can anyone tell me if the access pipe is permanently attached where it meets the stop valve? I'm thinking that maybe I can just dig the whole pipe out and replace it. Since it's a long ways down, don't want to start digging if it's attached. Thanks!
 
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Old 05-25-17, 03:27 PM
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As far as I've ever seen.... the curb box is not attached to the valve.... but there are some that are threaded on to the valve.

This is the style curb box I'm used to seeing and because yours is not lined up square...... is probably the same type.

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Old 05-25-17, 07:00 PM
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Thanks, Pete! That's what I'm hoping. It'll take a lot of digging to find out, but I don't seem to have any other options at this point.
 
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Old 05-26-17, 11:48 AM
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Confirmed - Phila Water Dept sucks

After a musical interlude for 15 minutes, I finally reached someone at PWD. She rudely informed me that their only responsibility is the main pipe in the street and the meter in your house. Yeay, Philly. Taxes out the wazoo, and the worst service. Zorfdt was 100% correct. If you can't access the shutoff valve, tough s#*t.
 
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Old 05-30-17, 10:34 AM
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Sorry she was rude. At least the people I worked with at PWD were nice when they were telling me that they required me to fix it.

Good luck with fixing or repositioning it. Let us know how it goes!
 
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Old 06-07-17, 04:31 PM
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Digging completed!

Well, I finally tunneled my way down far enough to shake the pipe loose, and I was able to re-position it just enough to spot the shutoff valve again. The valve was installed at an awful angle, and the pipe is now angled to match it, butting up against the curb. Haven't tried to work the valve yet, but hopefully, it'll function. Who was the brainiac who decided to make those pipes just a tad larger than the valve? Thanks again for your comments and suggestions, guys.Name:  water shutoff box-after_20170607-2-crop.jpg
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