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Common Issues Related With Shutoff Valves

Multiple water shutoff valves are positioned throughout the average home.  The main shutoff valve is by far the most important of all the shutoff valves as it turns off the flow of water to the entirety of your home.  Water shutoff valves must be turned off for plumbing repairs and also during emergencies.  However, there is the potential for water shutoff valves to create a litany of problems on their own.  Let’s take a look at some of the most common issues related to water shutoff valves.

The Problem With Saddle Valves

Plenty of old homes and aged plumbing fixtures feature saddle valves as opposed to traditional shutoff valves.  Such devices are shaped with handles that took similar to the letter “T”.  Saddle valves are quite vulnerable to leaks so they should be replaced on the double.  Substitute regular shutoff valves for saddle valves and you just might prevent extensive water damage in your home.

Dripping Valves

If a valve is turned off for an extensive period of time and subsequently switched back on, the valve is likely to drip.  In order to put an end to the drip, it will be necessary to tighten the packing nut and turn the valve to the off position then back on again a couple times.  If the drip is still present, the main valve must be turned off so the one that is dripping can be replaced.  If the main valve is the problem, it will be necessary to turn off the valve on the street side prior to replacement.  Furthermore, if the street side valve requires replacement, contact the water utility provider so the water supply can be shut off at the curb.

The Potential for Burst Pipes

Every homeowner lives in fear of a burst pipe.  Some go to the extent of shutting off the flow of water to their home if it will not be lived in for a lengthy period of time during the winter.  Shutting off the water ensures there is no reason to worry that the pipes will freeze.  The problem with this approach is there is the potential for water between the supply shutoff valve and the spigot to freeze, causing the pipe to burst.  However, the problem will not be noticeable until the homeowner turn the water back on.  This is precisely why plumbers recommend checking for burst pipes as well as leaking by the valves after the water is turned back on.

Inspect Your Home’s Water Shutoff Valves 

Every homeowner should perform a water valve inspection.  Take a close look at your property’s water shutoff valves at least once every year for possible issues.  If you can physically reach the water shutoff valve, feel around it to ensure it is dry.  The area by the handle is particularly important as this is where water is most likely to leak.  There is also a chance of valve body corrosion, meaning the buildup of calcium along the valve exterior forms as a growth.  In some cases, a weep hole within the valve body is created as a result of poor casting, causing calcium to accumulate that looks similar to a cauliflower.  

Though calcium might create a seal over the weep hole to prevent leaking, the calcium will only keep growing and potentially lead to costly repairs.  If you spot such a problem, it is best to replace the valve.  As you inspect the water shutoff valves in your home, take a close look for any signs of corrosion along the stems.  If there is corrosion at the cap along the side area of the valve, a new washer might be necessary.  It is also possible that the packing nut must be tightened.  If you are ever unsure about a water shutoff valve problem/solution, do the smart thing by relying on a plumber for assistance.

When in Doubt, Check the Simple Stuff 

Oftentimes, homeowners find a minor leak around the stem of a water shutoff valve.  It is possible the valve has not been fully shut off all the way.  This problem can be remedied with a simple tightening of the handle.  The nut that keeps the handle assembly in position might be loose.  If this is the case, attempt to tighten it rather than simply assuming the washer is no longer functional.