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I closed the main water valve for simple repairs. After reopening it there's barely any water doesn't even register in the meter. The valve doesn't feel broken but I can't think of what could be wrong.

The solution:

Our main shutoff valve is a small gate valve. We had the city show up and shutoff the water to the house while the plumber replaced the main valve. Apparently it was a bad valve since everything is in working order now.

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What type of valve is it (eg, globe, ball)? What did you repair -- or more specifically, do any taps between your repair and the main valve work? – gregmac Jun 16 '11 at 4:25

I'm going to assume it's a typical gate valve, and also since you said main water valve I'll assume it's the main shutoff just before the meter.

With these assumptions in mind, I'm going to say you will have to call your local municipality. The water company does not allow (or like) home owners to tamper with anything near (and defiantly not before) the water meter.

In fact, in lots of areas the municipality actually owns the pipe (and any fixtures) before the water meter. So this is not likely a DIY job.

When you call to have them come fix the valve, ask them to replace the broken gate valve with a ball valve.

If I have assumed incorrectly and the valve is on your side of the water meter, you can try to repair it yourself (see this question for how to do it) or you could just replace the broken valve.

If you are going to fix the valve yourself (it's on your side of the meter) and there is no other shut off before this valve, you will have to make a call to the municipality to have the water shut off to the building.

If you do the work yourself, you may have to get a permit and/or have your work inspected by a licensed plumber.

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+1 on the ball valve. Most of the valves in houses where you have to screw them on/off are globe valves, which are cheap but wear out relatively quickly and can get clogged up. Ball valves are only a couple dollars more, but last pretty much forever, and you can easily replace the handle if it breaks (which is about the only part that typically breaks) without plumbing. – gregmac Jun 16 '11 at 17:42
@Gregmac: I assumed it was a gate valve, because they commonly break after being closed when they have not been used for long periods of time. – Tester101 Jun 16 '11 at 18:14

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