Leaking Main Water Valve, can I just replace "innards"?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Minjin, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Minjin

    Minjin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    I had to shut off my main water valve this past week to install a kitchen fixture and when I went back down to turn it on, I discovered that it was leaking around the packing nut. I put a wrench on the packing nut but it didn't seem like it was really tightening so I let it go. I went back down with more light and discovered the following. It looks like it has been this way for a long time.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It hadn't been leaking until I "disturbed" it but now it has a slow leak and that broken nut really worries me so I need to fix it. What would you guys suggest? Replacing the entire valve would be a huge PITA. This is all really old stuff and I'm afraid things will break or strip. And that's ignoring any difficulty with getting water shutoff and turned back on. So...

    Can anyone identify the valve? If so, couldn't I just find another one, screw out the innards of the old one and screw the new stuff in? Does that work? Do these valves have any kind of standardized threading? Any suggestions?
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,491
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    There is NOTHING standard about ANY valve, and even if you could find the manufacturer, he probably has changed patterns a few times since yours was made. Replacing the valve is the ONLY repair, and since it is a "globe stop and waste valve", it should never have been used in the first place.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,896
    Location:
    New England
    At the age of the galvanized piping, all bets are off. If you were really lucky, the nut is a standard size, and you may be able to take the handle off, turn the nut off, and install a new nut and packing, then put the handle back on. The likelyhood of finding guts to replace what you have, as said, is slim to none. You should probably begin bugeting for a whole-house repipe and maybe your supply line to the street. It's in your future.
  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,329
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I agree a repiping job is in your future, but for the immediate problem, just replace the valve. There is a union showing on the right side of the photo, and a nipple on the left side. I'd use a 1/4 turn ball valve and adjust the length of the nipple (new) to adjust the space between the valve and union. Assembly would probably be easiest if you replace the coupler, nipple, and union with new parts. Use two wrenches to avoid putting too much stress on the old pipes, they could be badly rust and twist if you don't apply counter force.
  5. Minjin

    Minjin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    Here are some pics that give some better perspective. That thing that looks like a union is part of the meter pipe and it is extremely rusty. I don't even know where I'd get one of those. Are those standard?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The whole house is a mismash of old and new, mostly done by cheap, inept owners. I may be the former but I try not to be the latter. ;)

    Barring new info, here is my likely progression:

    1. Take the packing nut off, go to a bunch of hardware stores and try to find something that will fit. Put new packing in. Call it a day.
    2. Failing that, I might weld and tap the old nut.
    3. Failing that, I'm going to machine a new nut.
    .
    .
    .
    ?. Replace entire valve and risk needing to run a new pipe to the street.

    Thanks for the feedback so far.
  6. bluebinky

    bluebinky Member

    Messages:
    388
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    If you were in Oklahoma, I'd say just use an automotive hose clamp around the nut and some epoxy or JB weld...

    If you could find a cap that threaded on, you might just discard the valve innards (assuming you have an easy plan B for emergency shutoff).

    P.S. Don't take me too seriously, as I don't really know what I'm talking about.
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,329
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    OK, the union is part of the meter, so it would not need to be replaced, but would still provide the means to disconnect the old valve and replace it. If you don't feel comfortable doing it, hire a plumber. Even hiring a plumber would probably cost less than trying to salvage the old valve. But, when all is said and done, it's your call to try whatever you want.
  8. Hardt

    Hardt Member

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Giving you advice on this particular problem is beyond my realm of knowledge and experience but I had to compliment you on the beautiful pictures!! Also, I'm going to follow this thread because someone might comment on what that contraption is with the curved pipes going to it is! Good luck ..... plumbing for the DIY is a supreme challenge!
  9. Minjin

    Minjin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    My point about replacing it is that I'm not sure it will simply come free due to how rusty it is. I'd be very afraid of it breaking or rounding. And if that happens, where do I get one of those crazy things?
  10. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,244
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Here where I live the meter is owned by the utility, and I would call to see if they might come in and fix it, particularly since the valve is ahead of the meter.

    I am sure if the meter "accidentally" got broken, they would be there to fix it in no time.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,491
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The "curved pipe" is part of the "meter setter". There is not a long enough nipple to accomdate a ball valve, and removing the nipple which is screwed into the coupling would be a job for a plumber, in case the whole thing disintegrated. If that meter setter is 3/4", the fact that there is a bushing next to the valve implies that the pipe through the foundation is only 1/2".
  12. Minjin

    Minjin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    PA
    So do all of those curved pieces just serve to put the meter up there and in line? If I can just put the meter inline with the system, I don't need any of that crap below, right? The pictures don't show it but I have tons of space. That upshoot can easily come out from the wall quite a bit without affecting anything.
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,896
    Location:
    New England
    When that water meter was installed, they used those curved fittings to minimize the horizontal space it took up. They don't need to be there (I don't think). If you were willing to relocate the vertical supply line, you could have it all taken apart and install it all in a nice straight line from the shutoff through the meter into the house.
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,491
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; they used those curved fittings to minimize the horizontal space it took up.

    Not really. It was used so the meter could be serviced without disturbing the piping system, and they would ALWAYS be able to fit the meter into the system. It may NOT HAVE to be there, but the water company may INSIST on it being there, because it belongs to them. Especially since that "blue" thing is probably a security device to prevent you from removing the meter and installing a bypass to steal the water.
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,896
    Location:
    New England
    Call the utility company and see if they can offer any help. Dealing with old, corroded lines is always chancey.
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