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I replaced my water heater's cold water shut-off gate valve with a ball valve...because the gate valve didn't close all the way and was dripping water while I was working (installing a sediment filter.)

I'm assuming that, since ball valves are superior to gate valves, pretty much every plumber would agree that doing this was a good thing, but if there are any professional plumbers present, I'm curious to know what your thoughts are.

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I'm not a professional plumber (though I did work on water treatment systems for several years), but in my opinion what you did is fine.

Gate and globe (stop) valves are prone to corrosion and generally wear out over time. Ball valves are much more durable and reliable. I've seen many, many old stop valves that are leaking or don't shut off properly, or more often, leak as soon as you open/close them after they've not been touched for years. I can't say the same for ball valves - I've seen many that were installed for many years and still worked. I can even think of a couple where the outside looked totally corroded, and though it took a lot of force to turn (and sometimes a replacement handle), they still reliably shut without leaking.

On top of the reliability, the fact they use a 1/4 turn (instead of several full turns) and a quick glance tells you whether it's open or closed, ball valves are just vastly superior to gate and globe valves for almost all residential applications. Worth the extra dollar or so they cost.

The only thing they are not as good for is applications where you want to limit/control the flow rate (such as an outside tap or sample port). They can still do that, but are harder to finely adjust, and especially when one hasn't been opened for a long time and is a bit stiff, tend to suddenly give and open to full blast (I've been sprayed while trying to take water samples many times).

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Great advise Greg. I replace old style gate valves with ball valves anytime I work on any water line. So much easier to operate, rarely leak and last a long time. Well worth the couple of extra bucks. –  shirlock homes Dec 30 '10 at 11:38
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While I agree with this, and I love ball valves for purposes like this, I have had ball valves freeze up on me. When you are working with water, especially if there can be junk in the water, all such equipment will need periodic repair and/or replacement. –  user558 Dec 30 '10 at 11:58
    
I guess everyone is an agreement, then, that it was a good idea. :) –  Michael Dec 31 '10 at 10:25
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