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I've got gate valves (I think that's what they're called) for all of my water shutoff valves. It's a pain to close them, and they don't quite close all the way anyway, so I was thinking of replacing them with quarter-turn ball valves.

I have no experience soldering / sweating pipes, so would like to use compression fitting valves or threaded valves (with threaded-to-compression adapters to connect to existing copper). Is there anything wrong with this approach? Would it be acceptable for any water shutoff in the house - main, water heater, sinks, dishwasher, toilets?

  • All of your water shut offs? Like stops under sinks? Main shutoff for house? Laundry shut offs? Hose bibs? – Damon Dec 10 '16 at 17:12
  • @Damon yeah, if possible, all of them. I've replaced one hose bib already, but the old one was threaded, not soldered / sweated. – mmathis Dec 10 '16 at 17:16
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Yes, we typically are recommending 1/4 turn ball valves for valves that are not used very often. This would include sink stops, laundry stop, and main shut off. However each of those requires a unique solution to replace them per circumstance.

The hose bibs we would not recommend a 1/4 turn ball valve as ball valves are not designed to be used often and should not outlast a globe valve which is typical on hose bibs. Also, if you have freezing temperatures at times, ball valves for hose bibs are inherently not frost free.

A push fit type fitting with rubber gasket (shark bite) for the supply side of the main shut off is generally not a good idea as they are not a very robust connection for something that is always on, does not have an easy means of shutting off (to some people), and is usually hidden. All other locations should be good for a push fit type fitting however I would not personally recommend them else where either if you can avoid them.

In general, if it is a sweated connection, I would keep it sweated or threaded; and only resort to push fit (again, shark bite style) fittings if you have to. Example would be the water is not shuf off completely with the main and city shutoffs off and you cannot get the water away from the connection long enough to sweat; in cases like these we have resorted to a push fit connection.

Also, there is another common type of connection, a compression type connection, that utilizes a brass or plastic compression piece to "squish" around the pipe and seal things; these are usually very reliable but are only readily available on certain types of valves.

For the main, I would recommend someone properly sweating in some sort of solution even if you need to hire it out. Many times we convert to PEX for simplicity and speed but we still sweat on the adapters on either side of the conversion.

The other locations are not typically sweated connections and should be easier for you to replace as a home owner with a good set of plumbing tools and sealants. Hose bibs many times are actually sweated and again, we sweat on an adapter farther back and usually convert to PEX.

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    Compression fittings and shark bite type fittings are two different things. Shark bite type are push on where the seal is an O ring and a Compression fitting is composed of an outer compression nut and an inner compression ring. In the interest of accuracy for future readers you should edit your answer to avoid confusion. – Alaska Man Dec 10 '16 at 19:30
  • I found the old stop valves for faucets and toilets got very hard to turn as they aged and my wife especially could not turn them (I had to use pliers). In the event of an emergency with me not there she could not turn them. Over time most of the old stop valves were changed to quarter turn ball valves during renovations or by me. But I wonder if it is possible to rehab these old washer globe valves rather than replace them--change the rubber seal, lubricate the coarse threads in the stem that compress the seal, lube or change the stem packing so they don't leak when open, etc.? – Jim Stewart Dec 10 '16 at 19:56
  • @JimStewart Yes, it is possible in many cases to rebuild them IF you can find the correct parts. Finding correct parts is the trick. Usually the seat is OK. When you add up all the time and trips to source the parts, check everything, and trouble shoot it is usually cheaper AND faster to just replace the valve with quality ones. We have a solution we use for finding parts when we need to but it is usually a painful process comparatively; even with the specialists we use in sourcing such things. – Damon Dec 10 '16 at 20:06
  • @Alaskaman your right, I just stayed with what I think the OP was referring to as compression but that is wrong to assume such a thing. I edited the answer per your recommendation. – Damon Dec 10 '16 at 20:10
  • When sweating on new right angle stop quarter turn ball valves how does one protect the innards of the valve from heat damage. I have discovered two sets of the old style valves under a lavatory and a utility sink in the garage that I would like to change. – Jim Stewart Dec 11 '16 at 1:00
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Presumably the existing stop valves are sweated on. These valves are almost certainly the type with a rubber washer, as opposed to a gate valve. If you have no experience sweating, then you might have trouble getting them off.

If you have copper tubing water lines, you could avoid dealing with a torch by cutting off the old valves with a tubing cutter, then attaching the new ones with compression fittings. This would reduce the pipe by an inch, so you would have to have enough length to do that. Also be sure your tubing is not out of round.

You could also use valves with push on seals such as 'Sharkbite'.

I have some experience sweating, but have gotten out of practice. I removed a sweated on stop valve on a toilet and put on a ball valve with compression fitting and ran into a little trouble. I got the old valve off easily enough, but did not wipe solder off from the copper water supply tubing. I did not detect a blob of solder which collected on the bottom of the tube with the result that the compression nut would not go on. When I finally realized what was happening I tried to reduce the blob with emery cloth with troublesome results. Finally I reheated and wiped the end of the tubing, but before I reheated I reduced the diameter off the tubing so that when I tightened down on the compression nut the fitting leaked. Finally I was able to tighten down enough to stop the leak, but the nut is or is close to being bottomed out.

I did have enough copper pipe to cut it off and place the new valve closer to the wall, but this just goes to show that a deficiency in experience and competence can lead to problems. If you decide to tackle this job yourself, start with the most accessible and least critical fixture to find out how to do it.

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    A very competent professional builder that I know told me he started a fire doing sweating with a torch while renovating his own house. He had to use a garden hose to put it out. He was an army combat engineer trained and practiced at acting quickly and appropriately in a crisis. In doing renovations and repairs on my house I see scorched areas on studs and drywall from the original construction. I have and use a shield whenever I can. – Jim Stewart Dec 10 '16 at 12:56
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    Adventures in Plumbing by the Less Capable: Our outside faucets are vertical 1/2" rigid copper from the ground. Years ago I sweated on female 1/2" fittings so replacement is 'just' unscrewing, no sweating. Even so I managed to make it an adventure. I chose the Everbuilt Brass Garden Valve 176 3/4" FIP x MHT (ball valve) so I needed a short 1/2" MIP x 1/2" MIP and a 3/4" MIP x 1/2" FIP to connect it. When I first put it together it leaked at the threads of the valve and the 1/2" threads. I took it all apart and reapplied pipe dope this time to the female threads as well as the male. – Jim Stewart Dec 10 '16 at 18:09
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    I am adding these comments to inform the questioner that things are not necessarily easy for the less skilled and experienced. Regarding application of pipe dope I have read that one applies it only to the male threads, but when I took this apart it looked to me like the dope had been wiped off the threads on the male parts during assembly so I applied it to the female threads even though this will move pipe dope into the water stream. This is an outside faucet and I will flush it out. – Jim Stewart Dec 10 '16 at 18:19
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    What I was trying to say in the above is that many years ago I sweated on a 1/2" FIP fitting and screwed in valves of the type I now recognize as boiler drain valves (w/ rubber sealing washer). These valves didn't have replaceable seats and were leaking even with a new rubber seal. Yesterday and today I replaced them with ball 'garden valves' and had the trouble described above. I think I probably made the wrong choice of new vaves. I should have just used globe valves with a 1/2" MIP to go into the sweated on 1/2" FIP. There were some valves like that at the home store but were Chinese made. – Jim Stewart Dec 10 '16 at 19:00
  • Your awesome for working through that. If only everyone could appreciate the finer details that you have learned; they might value their trusted contractor more than their 3rd laptop or yearly phone upgrade. – Damon Dec 10 '16 at 20:38

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