I have a leaky cold water valve in my laundry room. It is a gate valve with a similar set up to This post (although older and with a lot of scaling). I did some research and decided to buy some 5/32 inch valve packing to re-pack the valve. I cleaned the old packing out, scraped the scaling off of the nut, wrapped the packing around the stem 2 times and tightened the nut down until it stopped leaking. I then decided to test it with a load of laundry. Of course, at this point it started leaking slowly again.

This has led me to a question which I haven't been able to find the answer to online:

The valve leaked whether it was open, closed or somewhere in between. Does this suggest that the issue is related to the washer or o-ring located at the bottom of the stem rather than the packing nut itself?

I'd hate to call a plumber, only to learn that I hadn't packed the nut properly but replacing the stem is above my pay grade. Any input is greatly appreciated!


1 Answer 1


Is this the cutoff valve for the cold water supply to the washing machine? Does it take several turns to go from closed to full open on the stop?

If, when the valve is closed, it leaks continuously around the stem, then the plastic washer at the bottom of the stem needs replacing. One has to remove the stem to do this. Some of the valves of this type use the packing nut to cover the interior and other valves have a separate screw cover. These latter can be stuck in place, but if not stuck this is a standard maintenance procedure.

With the stem out to change the washer, one inspects the brass seat in the valve body. If the sealing surface is compromised, then it should be replaced. However, a valve in cut-off service for a washing machine is hardly ever cycled so the seat is probably OK.

  • It would not be the o-ring/washer at the bottom of the valve if it leaks when open. The washer is the sealing portion of the valve and would only be an issue if it leaked when closed. If it leaks when closed, then yes that washer is bad. If it leaks no matter the position, you have a bad seal on the nut end.
    – Jeff Cates
    Feb 1, 2017 at 21:02
  • Yes this is the cold water valve to the washing machine and it takes several turns to go from fully open to fully closed. Now that I have replaced the packing inside the nut, it's not leaking while closed but it's still leaking while opened. Do you think that means that the stem needs replacing or is it more likely that I didn't put enough packing material inside the nut? I wrapped the 5/32 valve packing around the stem twice before tightening the bolt down. I can't tighten the nut any more than it already is but it still leaks while the valve is open. Feb 1, 2017 at 21:13
  • I think you should add more packing or redo the packing and put more packing than you did the first time. You say now that it is NOT leaking while closed. This means that the rubber washer seal is OK and it is leaking around the packing on the stem. The first thing to do is to try to stop the leak by twisting the valve harder open (but not too hard) to press against the packing. That prolly won't stop it and you will have to repack it. If you can't tighten the packing nut further, then you didn't put on enough packing. Feb 1, 2017 at 21:46
  • Just looked at the picture you referenced. If your valve is that same as that, then the bonnet nut (which you have already taken off) is all that needs to come off to remove the stem. Note that tightening the bonnet nut should not be done with the valve all the way open, but with it part way closed or fully closed. To remove the stem, take the bonnet nut off and just keep opening the valve more and more open and it will unscrew out. If the old packing is still there it will come out with the stem. If you take this to a plumbing supply they can sell you a washer and maybe formed packing. Feb 1, 2017 at 22:02
  • Thanks for the advice. The valve in the picture looks different than the one I have. That picture was meant to show the setup of hot,cold and drain pipe, although that may have been redundant. I'm going to try to pull the stem out Friday. If it's stuck in the valve I'll just add more packing and hope for the best. Feb 1, 2017 at 22:51

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