Ball valve stem leak

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by jwray, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. jwray

    jwray New Member

    Messages:
    96
    Location:
    Virginia
    I installed a 3/4" sweat ball valve as part of my plumbing project. After turning the water on there were no leaks for at least several hours.

    Now there is a very slow leak (drip) around the stem on the valve. It looks like there is a male threaded insert with hex flats below the valve handle which I could access by removing the nut holding the handle in place.

    Can I remove the valve handle and tighten this insert to stop the leak? (similar to tightening the packing nut on a gate valve)

    If the valve is bad I'm in a pickle because I don't have much room to work with if I have to remove it and sweat in a new one.

    Thanks,

    Joel
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes you can.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,689
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    leak

    Yes, and it is a common enough problem that I wish the manufacturer would make a thin open end wrench that would tighten it without removing the handle.
  4. jwray

    jwray New Member

    Messages:
    96
    Location:
    Virginia
    Sigh of relief

    Thanks for the info. I am breathing a big sigh of relief that there will be an easy fix. I'll do it tonight.

    The thin wrench would be nice. Maybe some QC too. This is a brand new Hammond 600psi valve from a plumbing supply house (not some cheapy from a big box or discount store). I guess it could get jarred loose in shipping, but I kind of expect the thing not to leak when it is fresh out of the box new.

    Sounds like I may be too hard on them if this is a common problem though.

    Thanks again for the help.
  5. jsadik

    jsadik New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    New York
    I'm a DIY'er with moderate plumbing experience.

    I replaced a leakey shutoff gate valve with a ball valve from Lowes. Once I sweat on the new valve I found it to be leaking from the stem. I removed it tonight and installed a new valve, same brand, American Valve from Lowes, and it's also leaking from the stem.

    I've sweat soldered ball valves in the past (other brands) without any problems. Is it possible that I'm responsible for this failure somehow, or are these cheaply made, defective parts?

    Is there anyway to fix this, like possibly tightening the nut under the handle, or must the valve be replaced?

    Thanks...
  6. ***warning***

    Those are the cheapest ball valves made. They have the greatest profit margins for the seller as well.

    Take it out and put in a NIBCO or Watts. If there is a packing nut under the handle, tighten it to see if that stops the leaking.
  7. jsadik

    jsadik New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    New York
    I removed the handle and tightened the nut and that seems to have fixed the leak. Given the "cheapness" factor, should I still worry about this valve or should I leave well enough alone since it's functioning properly now?
  8. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    RUGGED fergot "Apollo" valves...my personal favorite, Watts 'er good too.
    As for the packing nut you tightened..it's good...for now.
    In time you'll see it drip again...I'll second what Rugged said...HD and Lowes carry the cheapest of the cheap.
    why not?...most homeowners don't know that.
  9. I'd leave well enough alone. There's actually a valve worse than american, it's B&K with the super thin brass socket ball valves.

    They are red handled and give it 3 years after they've been installed, they will start cancering out on the outside of the valves.

    Legend makes a good valve, along with hammond. I tried my luck at some proplus valves recently and the brass of the ball valve is solid, but the threaded stud of the ball valve is fragile and if you overtighten too much, it strips the threads out too easily.

    When I run out *4 left* I'll be ordering 100 NIBCO's.


    And yes, Apollo is a good one but hard to find in my area.
  10. jsadik

    jsadik New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    New York
    That's scary...all the other ball valves in my home are B&K.

    Thanks for the advice on the packing nut.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,689
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    leak

    The purpose of the packing nut is to stop leaks at the stem. Some companies send them with the packing loose and expect the plumber to tighten it.
  12. rmontyw

    rmontyw New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Quebec
    HELP! How do I actually adjust this stem in the ball valve to stop the leak

    I found this forum by searching for leaking ball valve. I"m desperate to fix this valve instead of replacing it if possible. I just spent a long time soldering the joints all around it and add the fact that it is my main shut off for my house now I would have to call the city to turn the water off again to do the work over.

    So if this stem behind the handle on the valve is indeed adjustable and could be the solution to this leak can someone please help me figure out how to actually adjust it. It may seem obvious to most but not me. All my channel lock pliers are too big to get in behind the actual handle.

    HELP Ottawa-20120914-00923.jpg Ottawa-20120914-00924.jpg
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,059
    Location:
    New England
    Take the nut off, then the handle will slide off, then you'll have access. Use a wrench (preferably) rather than pliers.
  14. nestork

    nestork Janitorial Technician

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Rmontyw:

    Further to what Jadnashua said:

    1. Hold the handle steady as you unscrew the locknut holding the handle on. Otherwise the handle may turn with the wrench.

    2. Only tighten the packing nut under the handle enough so that you can open and close the valve without it leaking. Tightening it more than that simply causes the packing material to wear down faster than necessary.

    3. The ball valve handle will look something like this:

    [​IMG]

    Note that the hole in the handle for the ball valve stem isn't round, but a slot. The end of the ball valve's stem will be the same shape, and that can make it easy to misthread the lock nut when putting the handle back on.

    (If you have trouble getting the lock nut back on and you do end up screwing up the thread on the end of the stem, don't sweat it. Just hang the handle to the water supply pipe near that valve with a piece of wire or something and use the handle to open and close the valve when necessary.)

    4. The valve is open when the handle is parallel to the pipe and closed when the handle is perpendicular to the pipe.

    5. Always ensure ball valves are OPEN when soldering them in, and give them plenty of time to cool down before operating the valve.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,689
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; Always ensure ball valves are OPEN when soldering them

    Actually, on a 45, halfway open is better, because some valves have water inside from testing and the heat of soldering can turn it to steam and "blow" out the seals. Halfway open lets pressure escape from both sides of the seals.
  16. DanielV

    DanielV New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Lakewood Colorado
    I'm a complete amateur but this subject seems somewhat related to my problem.

    I have a Legend S-1100 Ball Valve that shuts the water off to the sprinkler system on the opposite side of the wall outside.
    The problem is there is a leak through the valve itself, as when I open that little brass cap right next to the valve (to let the water drain out of the pipe between the valve and the back flow preventer valve outside), it continues to drip.
    So, it's not shutting off completely, allowing a small amount of water (a drip about every 5 seconds) to flow through the pipe.

    Unfortunately this ball valve has no packing nut! Nothing to tighten except the nut that holds the handle on and I have no idea what to do now.
    Is it too old? Do I need to replace it completely? I don't have all the tools to do that, so I was hoping there was something I'm missing.

    I'd take a picture of the thing but my camera is broken too.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2012
  17. DanielV

    DanielV New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Lakewood Colorado
    Ah, thanks for the image Terry.
    So, I guess I'll just have to replace the whole thing, then.
  18. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,059
    Location:
    New England
    If I'm understanding his observation, it's not leaking around the handle, it's leaking through the seal on the valve itself as evidenced by there being water coming out the drain hole. If so, then the valve itself is worn out or defective.

    But, if the backflow preventer wasn't working properly, any water in the sprinkler system could drain back and have a drip there for quite awhile unless you blew out the lines with an air compressor.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2012
  19. DanielV

    DanielV New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Lakewood Colorado
    For some reason I do not see Terry's reply in the thread, so I didn't know he asked that question.
    Sorry about that.

    Yes, it's leaking out of the drain hole, not the handle (though I did remove the handle and there is absolutely nothing to adjust or grab onto under there).
    It's interesting to learn that, while ball valves may be more reliable, they are pretty much unrepairable when they do go, as compared to other valve types.
    Is this a correct assumption?

    I suppose if I were more handy this wouldn't be so much of an issue :D

    Thanks for the help!

    edit
    btw, it is a brand new Febco back flow preventer, and I did notice last year that the drip was still happening even after blowing out the lines, so it must be the shut off valve.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  20. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,059
    Location:
    New England
    Overheating it during installation could ruin the seals.
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