Where do you get a curb key?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by TMB9862, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. TMB9862

    TMB9862 New Member

    Messages:
    206
    I need/want to change out the old gate valves around my meter. I could borrow a key from work but I'd like to have my own. Thing is the plumbing supplies don't sell them and no one even knows where the ones at work came from.
  2. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    I don't think they are suppose to be for sale...
  3. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
  4. TMB9862

    TMB9862 New Member

    Messages:
    206
    Thanks, that's what I'm looking for and at a pretty good price too.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I can't speak for every place, but in my city they do not want a homeowner to have one. I know this is true in other areas as well. Some do not even allow a plumber to have one. That said, if you ever have an emergency like a broken cut off valve in the basement and have water under 90 psi coming through a 1" pipe, you will wish to God you had one. This happened to me several years ago. I immediately went out and tried to buy a key, and that's when I learned they were not for sale. I went to a welder friend and had him make one for me. I have had 3 or 4 occasions to use it. I believe there are several kinds, so if you want to have one made, it will have to be made to fit your meter.
  6. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Wow, that's weird. I needed one for closing the house on Fire Island, a year ago. Picked one up at the plumbing supply. The only question was whether I wanted the 3ft or the 5 ft.
  7. Anybody can buy anything they want.....it's just when you get caught is what matters.


    In my area they don't even want plumbers in the crocks turning the meters off and on. Given emergency situations they can't just have it that way every time.

    What you'll find out when buying meter keys on the net is that they come with all different slot dimensions and it may or may not be the right one for the meter.

    Curb keys are a whole different matter; if it is a low grade key and it snaps down inside the ground, guess who gets the bill for that......


    Dig job at their cost to you!! $$$
  8. TMB9862

    TMB9862 New Member

    Messages:
    206
    In my town you own everything up to and including the corp on the main so you are allowed to use the curb stop. Their is only one town in my county I know of that doesn't allow you to touch the curbstop.

    I work for a fairly large plumbing company and have turned plenty of curbstops and done plenty of complete water services (as an apprentice, not a mechanic) so I'm not completely new at this. I just do not like borrowing tools. If I take it and someone goes out on an emergency call for a broken valve to find their curb key missing for example it wouldn't be a good thing. I'd also like to have it around so that should I have a leak before the meter in my basement I have the option of shutting down without having to drive to work at 4am to go pick one up. This is especially true with this being a galvanized service. I asked around at work and those keys have been their before even the bosses started working so no one can tell me where to get myself one.

    Being that this is a galvanized service I don't even know if the thing will even turn. I defiantly don't want to force it as I've seen what that can do before. in terms of both snapping the valve and the valve shutting and never opening again. I'm going to try a little hot water, see if it turns nicely and if it doesn't it's going to stay as is with the key reserved for an emergency situation.


    The broken off curb key situation is easially remedied with a strong magnet on a pole.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2007
  9. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    Do any other plumbing yourself, but you really need a licensed plumber to do this.

    If you damage the curb stop you are in trouble. Even a licensed plumber would not touch one unless they are reasonably sure of its condition (mine insisted I call the water company out to replace it before he touched it).

    If it does not turn the water off completely, soldering new valves may be tricky (especially if you have cut the old ones off).
  10. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots Sprinkler Guy

    Messages:
    798
    Location:
    Metro NYC
    I know a number of LP's who would prefer the water company shut off the curb stop, just so the possible problems don't occur on their dime.
  11. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    So is a curb key different from a meter key?

    I think the meter valve key is 1/2" wide by about 1-1/2" long.

    What does the curb key look like?

    [​IMG]
  12. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots Sprinkler Guy

    Messages:
    798
    Location:
    Metro NYC
    Pretty much alike, with a longer stem for deeper waterlines, and a larger 'business end' for larger valve sizes. There is also a system used by Mueller(sp?) that has a rod affixed to the curb stop, and a special key to fit the upper rod end. I own a Mueller key and a five-foot 'standard' key, and mostly they collect dust.


  13. How long have you been plumbing?


    I've encountered more misaligned, more mud/stone packed curb stops than I care to mention. Those rebar type keys usually do not work and you need those real narrowed type that only the water district have.

    I've snapped the cheap ones (rebar type) and that's why I mentioned extreme caution.

    Those tubes depending on how deep the valve is made in sections, sections that become misaligned over time.

    It's an open cavity and most times they fill with debri, tossing the idea of a easy magnet retrieval.

    Hopefully your area is much better earth than mine but I honestly call the water district for all my jobs involving complete shutoffs in campbell county. In the older, developed neighborhoods.......even the water district guys have trouble shutting them down.


    I like the meter key I have but it's really for the crock type only. I think curb stop valves should be banned......especially if I showed you how they are making the new ones.....sitting on the shelf at my local supply house.

    I'll take pictures of them and I guarantee it'll piss you off. It's guaranteed to fail when that valve gets hard to turn. :mad::mad::mad:
  14. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Where I live, most of the trailers and bungaloes I work on don't have usable mains. Sometimes, I need to turn off the water at the curb box several times during a job. Even though the water dept. said they would give me a ticket if they caught me, I'll be damned if I'm going to call them out every time I need to turn off the water..
  15. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Architect

    Messages:
    277
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    My local home desperate sells 3' and 5' keys... Of course I needed an 8' key. I used a length of rebar and a welder to lengthen mine...
  16. Peanut9199

    Peanut9199 Customer Service Manager Plumbing Wholesale

    Messages:
    875
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    We are not allow to sell to end users either, ususally not even plumbers.
    We normally only sell to City workers.
    I think the City is more afraid of people who have their water shut off for not paying able to turn it back on then breaking it.
  17. TMB9862

    TMB9862 New Member

    Messages:
    206
    What is a licensed plumber going to do differently? I’ve done the exact same thing probably ten times, similar jobs countless times. The water company won’t replace a curb stop as I own it, I would have to hire a plumber (a homeowner can’t get permits to cut the street). It’s galvanized so it’s IPS, the water can be running at full blast and it’s still possible to get a valve on there.




    I could call the water company and have them do it. If they break the curb stop though it’s the homeowners (my) responsibility though. I feel better doing it myself as I won’t force it as much as they might.




    I’ve been plumbing for about two years now so I certainly won’t claim to have seen it all. I’ve delt with those packed curb stops as well most of the time a shop vac and a long thin piece of metal or a hose will clear them out. I’ve ended up digging one because it was too packed and the basement was rapidly filling with water. I’ve never seen a curb key made of rebar? The ones I’ve seen are 1/2in solid square tube. The magnet retrievals I’ve done were a result of a homeowner breaking some sort of makeshift key off in there within days of calling me so it wasn’t packed in with mud yet.
  18. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Mine made of 1" steel pipe (not galvanized or black iron) and 1/4" flat bar. My valve has a fairly long rod stick up the manhole. It has a rectangular end, so my key had to be made to fit that. The valve is hard to turn and the rod set down inside the manhole, so I could not use any kind of wrench that had a long enough handle to turn the valve off.
  19. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    USABLUEBOOK at www.usabluebook.com, 800-548-1234 has about 4 pages of them. Go to the site and search on KEY, then look at the pages.

    They are called curb box key, curb box wrench, rod key, service box key, valve box key, gate wrench, and maybe more names.

    Anyone can call in an order, they take credit cards, and will ship same day if you order by 5 PM Chicago time.

    They are an excellent source of water system equipment. I find them to be the best source of float switches of various kinds.

    My current catalog is more than 1400 pages and they will send you a catalog with your first order. They include four lollipops in every shipment so you will be sure to remember them.
  20. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    If I were allowed to use a curb key I wouldn't want to.
    Last summer I did a repipe job, city came in to shut off the curb and it broke in the open position.
    They then went to the side streets shut off and it just kept spinning.
    The street main didn't work either, I had to reschedule for the next week when they could shut down at the nearest pumping station.
    One of the guys was nervous, told me a few months earlier they had a valve blow and flooded a neighborhood.
    I wouldn't want to be the guy that floods a neighborhood using an illegal curb key.
    For that matter, I wouldn't want to be the one who did it legally.
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