Shutting off water supply from street

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by dmax56, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. dmax56

    dmax56 Handyman

    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    NJ
    Folks,

    First, it's been a while since I needed to be here, but want to thank so many of your for helping me do over a bathroom all by myself--though the kids carried some boxes of tile/plaster!

    Anyway, bath is great and no leaks about a year later!

    Now, my main water shut off valve is leaking and I want to replace it. It's 3/4" copper coming into house, then into pressure regulator, then into water meter.

    My question is whether there's going to be any issues when I try to shut off the valve at the street. I've ordered a street shut off 'wrench' from local hardware store and plan on using it so I can do this myself, as I expect our town would want me to use a licensed plumber...which I'm not....but have about 300 leak free joints and counting!

    Anyway, the bolt to open the street access is a pentagon...I'm sure I can use a wrench to get it off though...but have they done anything goofy like make these counterthreaded or just left loosey!

    Also, will the street shut off typically be a 90 degree clockwise to close? And if it hasn't been turned in say 20 years or more (maybe 50?)...anything I might want to do to minimize any serious issues?

    Thanks folks! Whatever thoughts you have would be appreciated...except for those who think I'm trying.

    The old joint, btw, was just a soldered gate valve and I'm planning on using a ball valve and soldering it in...unless I should be doing something else. A local plumber said I should use a 'swedge' joint (I think), but can't really pound on the pipe coming into the house, as it's got a bend in it that I can't get to and I just couldn't support it for the bashing. Soldering better than compression for a water main or not?

    Sorry...I'm OCD and living in NJ!

    Doug
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010
  2. thezster

    thezster New Member

    Messages:
    251
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    FWIW... I've done the same thing from the street in about 14 houses.... To date - no problems with the main -... most have gone counterclockwise to off - though I've run into a couple of clockwise.... Try one direction carefully - then the other carefully --- though you might get much better advice from a pro here...... I'm often amazed that those old valves still turn after all these years.... Again - FWIW - sweat a new ball valve.... Good choice... Hate gate valves...

    This is a great forum - I'm sure you'll get some "professional" advice shortly... (I too have been away from here for a number of years... and am just now getting back in)...
  3. dmax56

    dmax56 Handyman

    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    NJ
    Thanks Thez!

    Out of curiosity, do your street valve covers also have a 'locking nut'? Pentagon design for the bolt head here is supposed to stop people that want to open it? LOL I thought that was pretty funny...like the city saying 'don't open it' only professionals should open this! Like I'm going to wait for them to return after I'm done to inspect and then turn water back on...1/2 hour without water in house or prolly a day or more...though they may be better than that here.
  4. jc60618

    jc60618 DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    88
    Location:
    Chicago
    The curb cocks I have encoutered only require a quarter turn to close.
  5. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Most cities it's illegal to shut the curb stop off without permission from the utility and that's because folks could shut if off, bypass their meter and then turn it back on again. So............don't get caught.
  6. dmax56

    dmax56 Handyman

    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    NJ
    Ah, that's a decent reason. I was actually realizing how easy that would be when I looked at things...although I could do that without shutting off the street valve anyway. My leaking shutoff is before meter. But in any case, I'm glad I'm doing this...and getting that street key...coz if something ever happened with main again of a catastrophic nature, by the time someone came to shut it off, we'd be under 10' of water!

    I've ordered a Ninja outfit and night vision goggles and am planning on working under cover of darkness! LOL

    Doug
  7. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    In that case you might as well by pass the meter while you're at it LOL
  8. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Isn't it code there to have a shut off as soon as the water main enters the building? Here it is... well "as close as practical to where the water main enters the building." So there is always a shut off before the meter :p

    But in my opinion the real reason you *shouldn't* use your street shutoff is that the valve itself is usually on city property and property of the city. So if something goes wrong and you happen to break the valve while turning it on or off you'd be responsible for all of the damage you caused. If someone was to live in an old part of town and didn't know for sure the last time the city replaced their service you don't really know what's down there and how old it is. There are still some parts of town around here that have old lead services and such. The city has done their best over the years to replace them all but some were missed and are still out there.

    But could you imagine breaking the connection to the city main and then having to pay to fix all the water damage it caused under the road?

    But in an emergency you'd definitely be wise to shut it off yourself before the city got there :D

    That's just my 2 cents anyway.
  9. dmax56

    dmax56 Handyman

    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    NJ
    I'm just an idiot trying to save what's probably like $300 to have a plumber come to sweat one valve and the personal issues I'd have with my family if we went a day without water...but you make a very good point Mr. Doherty! A damn good point...especially because I know it'd cost far more if there's an issue with street shut off! Damn! ...Nothing personal!

    Also, although it might be code to have meter before house shut off, ours isn't and hasn't been for the 15 years we've been in the house. That said, the idiot living here before me is certainly the type that might've done something like that...though bypassing meter seems like something you'd get caught doing easily...as in, "why aren't you using ANY water"?

    Anyway, they installed an electronic sender a few years ago (to send to an outside meter wirelessly I think) and that is before the shut off and it just occurred to me that this might not take the heat of sweating a foot away too well.

    So I think you've convinced me that I am an idiot and that I should take the prudent route...and I'm glad I asked!

    Thanks for your help...really appreciate it!

    Doug
  10. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    No valve before the meter allowed here. Now that's a water department issue, not a code issue.
  11. mtne

    mtne Electrician

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Hasn't been an issue here in Denver. I've had to use the street shut off for leaks in an older house I own as there were no valves in the house....... 1926 original and in a poor hood. Just yesterday a tenant finally took care of the water bill where he was shut off.......... they come out and turn the valve but don't lock it out. I put my lock on it so the tenant couldn't just turn it on and incure a $500 illegal turn on fee for me, as has happened in the past. Once I confirmed with the utility that all was paid I asked if I could turn it back on and they said yes........... no problem.
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,255
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I have NEVER seen a meter without a valve, usually a lockable one, ahead of the meter. Without that, how do they terminate the water service for nonpayment of the bill. If you notice, fire hydrants ALSO have a pentagon valve stem. That IS to prevent unauthorized access, since the only places that sell the wrenches nomally only sell them to licensed contractors.
  13. dmax56

    dmax56 Handyman

    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    NJ
    HJ,

    I think the comment about the valve before the water meter was because my water meter has a valve inside the house before it. I also have a street shut off...and didn't even think that they could be locked...figured needing the street key was enough to stop most.

    I don't have that pentagon key though...but figured, if I needed to, could just use a pipe wrench on it...at least that's what I was thinking before being convinced the authorities would come and take my wife!

    Doug
  14. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    You are right when you say that needing a street key will deter MOST because: A) Most people don't neve know what a street key is and B) most people wouldn't know where to buy a street key and or know how to use it.

    And you said you wanted to save having a plumber come out.... you can still do that! You just "should" have the city come shut the water off while you work and then have them come turn it back on when you're done.

    I would just avoid the liability of messing with the curb stop on the street. I'm a professional who carries a street key in my van "just in case" kinda thing. But I still call the city out whenever I can and it's practical to do so. I don't want to pay out a bunch of $ to fix the road if I happen to hit a bad valve.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,255
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Also, it would not be unusual for the curb box to have shifted off the curb stop valve and need excavating to put it back into position. I have told the story previously about it happening to a 2" one in the middle of winter when the ground was frozen solid. The plumber had to install the valve on the pipe inside the house "live", and since there was not enough room to turn it, the valve had to be taken apart, which meant the full flow was running the whole time it took to tighten the valve onto the pipe, and then he could put the gate and handle back on it. This all took place under a stair platform 3' above the ground which helped spray the water all over the area and the plumber.
  16. dmax56

    dmax56 Handyman

    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    NJ
    Guys,

    All done thanks to you...largely! Where I live in NJ, the 'City' doesn't turn off the street shut off, the water company does. Called for an 'appointment' and they said they'd turn off from 9-12 and then back on by end of day when I was done.

    They turned water off at 8:45; my wife called an yelled about it getting turned back on asap of course; anyway, beautiful new balljoint valve installed where old gate valve was. Gate was just leaking from packing on top, but it was so old looking and the top nut was so tight, easier to replace valve.

    Valve in in 15 mins and water back on by noon!

    Two things more if you don't mind--

    First, does anyone happen to know the torque maximum for a 3/4" (7/8th " nominal) brass compression fitting...it's on a copper pipe. Mine is leaking, literally, 2 full drops of water a day.
    Not serious at all, but have cranked really tight...using a 1' crescent wrench...and don't want to overdo it. I work on my car a lot, so know I can go up to 200 lb-ft. of torque if I needed to...I'm thinking I'm around a good 60 lb-ft now...so would like to hear that "there's no way you're breaking that fitting even with a four ft. long bar" but doubt I will. Long way of asking...what's the max torque I can go without popping the end off--I know I can't do anything to the inside of this coupling!

    Second, even more important...

    Thank you who know stuff and share it! You helped me finish a beautiful 'spa' with jacquizzi, a beautiful glass sink with brushed nickel fittings (could afford Grohe, coz I did everything), Classy looking finished piping, escutcheons, shutoff valves and supply lines. Beautiful if I do say so myself.

    I myself spend more hours a day than I should on a car forum, as I'm tending to the needs of my 200K miles car myself and need to learn tons...and share what I know...or think I know!

    Anyway, I know a few of you spend way more time than others like me just stopping by rarely, getting answers and disappearing. With cars, I know, many are there all the time...as they always have cars. With plumbing issues, I'm sure that besides those of you who are actually plumbers, there's a far larger population of diyers here. I just wanted to acknowledge you and say that I know I couldn't have done the stuff I've done without you. I'm sure there are other plumbing forums, but this is the one I found...and found what I need...and appreciate it all very much!

    Don't cry...it's okay! LOL

    Anyway, as we say where I come from on the Internet: this forum ftw! (for the win)

    Thank you very much!

    Doug


    --PS---- I had 3/4" copper supply from street. Many I'd talked to thought it would be galvanized. Water Co. plumber said that copper was better! Evidently around here many do have 'galvanized pipe'--don't know tech term for that if that's not what it's called...with threads. So I soldered pipe into my fitting in advance, including MIF fitting to go to pressure valve fitting. A 'random' plumber at HD suggested a compression fitting, coz the street shut off, he said, would drip enough that I wouldn't be able to solder. Might not have been true, but compression is what I have...with that tiny leak, that I hope I'll get help with!

    Sorry for War and Peace...I type really quickly!
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
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