Replacing Broken Water Valves

This all began when we noticed that one of our valves under the bathroom sink was leaking.

Leaking Bathroom Valve
Leaking Bathroom Valve

In addition to the leaking bathroom valve, the ones in the laundry room were really old and one had a handle.

Broken Laundry Valve
Broken Laundry Valve

Note:
Our house has copper for plumbing so I was able to reuse the existing compression fitting and nut from the old valves. I’ll include some links at the end for water line valve installation on different materials.

First thing is to turn off the water to the house. The water shut off valve for our house is in the sidewalk in front of the house. Use a wrench to turn the valve.

Turning Off Water
Turning Off Water

Drain the water from the lines by opening up a faucet until only a slight trickle comes out. Draining the lines usually takes between 5 to 10 minutes.

No matter how much you let the water drain there will always be some coming out of the pipes when you start removing the valves. Make sure you put some towels in the area to catch any water that might leak out.

Preparing Work Area
Preparing Work Area

You’ll notice in the picture below that the hose is permanently attached to the water shut off valve for the bathroom faucet. Because of this I had to replace the water shut off valve and the hose going from the valve to the faucet.

Removing Sink Connection
Removing Sink Connection

One of the laundry room water shut off valves was really stuck, but a couple shots of WD40 and about 5 minutes later it came off with no problem.

Oiling Stubborn Valve
Oiling Stubborn Valve

When removing the valve, use the biggest wrenches / pliers possible that still allow for full range of motion in the work space. As you can see below they don’t have to be pretty.

I love the 12 inch crescent wrench I have, similar to this Crescent 12-Inch Adjustable Wrench. It provides great torque and is one my go to tools.

Old Bathroom Valve Removal
Old Bathroom Valve Removal

I left the nut and brass compression ring, also referred to as a ferrule, on the copper pipe. The idea behind this is to reuse the old nut and compression ring on a new valve.

Removed Bathroom Valve
Bathroom Valve Removed
Compression Ring
Compression Ring

There are different threads available for the replacement valve. The best thing is to remove the old valve, take it to the local hardware store and match up the threads. My water valves have coarse threading.

Coarse Thread
Coarse Thread

Just a side note. My replacement laundry room water valves cost about 50% more than the bathroom ones.

Replacement Laundry Valve
Replacement Laundry Valve
Replacement Bathroom Valve
Replacement Bathroom Valve

Wrap some Teflon tape around the threads of the new water valve.

Note on wrapping the Teflon tape:

  • Just pretend you are tightening the nut back on to the threads. That is the direction to wrap the tape. If wrapped in the other direction it will loosen and start to come off.
  • On most of the replacement water valves I wrapped the threads 3 times around. If there is a golden rule of how many times to wrap the threads with Teflon I don’t know it. Sorry
Wrapping Teflon Tape
Wrapping Teflon Tape

Hand tighten the nut on the replacement water valve then finish tightening with a wrench.

Installing New Valve
Installing New Valve

5 thoughts on “Replacing Broken Water Valves”

  1. I was surprised that you don’t have a shut-off valve inside your house, but then I don’t know what kind of house you have. I read online that after the cold winter of 2010-11 the southwest has had, many homeowners suffered frozen pipes and water damage. The various news media mentioned that many of these houses did not have a shutoff valve in the house, but had to be shut off at the street level or even farther back toward the water source.
    About 10 years ago I had a leaking valve in my house & attempted to do a repair similar to what you have done. However, I found out my house shutoff valve would not shut off the water completely. In addition, attempting to shut off this valve caused it to leak. So then I had 2 leaks I couldn’t fix. I called a plumber my next door neighbor recommended to me, and he was great. We had to coordinate repair with the city. A city worker came by with a 5 foot long handle to shut off my house at the street level – and we then found out that valve didn’t shut my house off completely. Even after the city shut-off there was still a trickle flowing into my house. My plumber had a special technique using compressed air, and was able to solder a high-quality ball valve on my main water line even with the constant leakage. I bought the valve, and he only charged my $50, which I thought well worth the price. Now I can shut off my house water with a quick 90 degree twist of the main valve. So I was finally able to fix my initial problem and have added key shutoff valves in my house system to make working on my own plumbing easier. I always shut off my house water when I leave on an overnight or longer trip — no more worries about valves or pipes leaking in my absence.

  2. I do have a shut-off valve inside my house, but it is in an area I tend to put things I don’t really want to move like a lathe without a stand and some stacked tires (just reminded me I need to sell those).

    Some people did have frozen pipes here in Las Vegas. Not so much in-house ones but the irrigation pipes froze. A lot of newer homes have their shut off valves for irrigation about a foot above ground.

    The news around here now warns people to wrap their pipe when the weather get to freezing.

    Another trick I’ve seen for soldering with water trickling is to jamb some wadded up bread in the pipe. I must say I like your plumber’s technique better.

    Shutting off the water when you leave? How are you supposed to come home to a disaster if you do that? 🙂

  3. “How are you supposed to come home to a disaster if you do that?” I agree, my habit takes a lot of suspense out of a trip. A good half dozen families I’ve known over the years have had burst pipes & leaking fixtures occur while they were away.

  4. I have tried several shut-off valevs from Nelson,Gilmour,& Sears and while some of them worked OK, none of them had the flow or the robust construction of the Dramm. I use it around the yard for my sprinkler as I don’t have to run back & forth to the spigot to regulate water flow as I move the sprinkler across my odd shaped yard. I recent have been using it for my pool slide as it is extremely fussy to regulate the flow of water with the spigot which is over 30 feet away. While it is more costly than the previously mention valevs it is also hands down the best made. It is a premium piece made in the USA weighing in at over half a pound. It flows better other valevs due to it’s 12mm inner opening. What I like most about this valve is the extra large on-off switch located on the side of the valve, with most shut-off valevs you need two hands to turn it on or off, not so with this Dramm, just using your thumb will accomplish the task. If you are looking for a quality piece to purchase just once Dramm is the answer. Jeff

  5. Since a lot of water main valves don’t shut completely off, when I work on stuff I turn on the basement bathroom sink, so all the dribble goes down that sink while I am working.

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