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When I'm fixing or replacing the hot-water valve stem in a 2-handle bathroom faucet, do I need to turn off the cold water as well as the hot water, or is turning off the hot water sufficient?

I'm assuming I have to turn off both, but wanted to make sure it was needed, because the bathroom has 2 sinks but only one cold-water shut-off valve.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In all likelihood you probably don't need to turn it off, but I would still recommend that you do so, if only because you might inadvertently hit the cold side of the faucet when working in the area.

You know the saying - if it can go wrong, it will. What's easier - cleaning up lots of water, or turning the valve off and back on?

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Good advice, thanks. QUestion is mostly about time scheduling. If I know we will still have a working other sink if I have to stop halfway (e.g. for screaming child) and can't get back to it for a few days, then I can start the repair now. But if both sinks will be out of commission for the duration of the repair, then I'll have enough time to finish the repair in one go. – Justin Grant Jun 9 '12 at 22:51
Maybe the first thing you should do then is install another shutoff so you can turn them off independently – Steven Jun 9 '12 at 22:59
@JustinGrant, turn them both off while working. When taking a break, you can likely turn the cold back on. The biggest risk for a 2 handle is washing an important part down the drain. – BMitch Jun 9 '12 at 23:58

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