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We are switching old gas range for a new one and were surprised when we pulled it out and discovered we couldn't shut off the gas without first cutting out the drywall/plaster around the shut-off valve.

This seems terrible - nearly impossible to do in an emergency without special tools (and cutting the wall). Is there any valid reason this might have been done this way? What's our best option for when we hook up the new range - I don't want to leave things impossible to reach, are there options to add another shutoff valve further along the connection?

Here are two pictures of how it looked when we moved the range and after we freed the shutoff:

shutoff valve inside plaster

valve freed and shut off

  • If there was an emergency, please don't use that valve. It's not an emergency shutoff, get out instead. The plumber used a nipple that's about 1/2" shorter than it could be. Perhaps tho the old stove didn't permit any more length than used. You could have a plumber change the nipple and or valve to a different, or you could just fill up the hole with drywall compound and this time try to do it so the valve is still operable. – Tyson Oct 1 '17 at 15:35
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    That... Is why that guy is a drywaller, and not a gas plumber or electrician. It's fairly common for one trade to just whomp all over the work of another like that. All of them are racing for the customer sign-off so they can get paid. – Harper Oct 1 '17 at 18:01
  • well, strangely, or maybe not, under the sink I see the same thing, the small holes that were put in the backs of the cabinet to fit water pipes through are also filled in with plaster. That's not going to be fun to remove the sink cabinet... – Asya Kamsky Oct 1 '17 at 19:32
  • Terrible building practices are all too common. In any case, You would not be heading to that valve in the case of an emergency, unless you wanted to get burned or worse - you shut off the main gas valve for the building (or apartment) where the fire is not, not the gas valve for a malfunctioning appliance in flames. It is good practice to know where that valve is and how to operate it in time of need. – Ecnerwal Oct 1 '17 at 19:38
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    I may have discovered the answer to my question or at least a partial explanation - where I was assuming there was 1/2 inch drywall on that wall, it turned out to be half inch plywood with one inch plaster on top of it. So maybe that's why the gas turn off is half an inch too far into the wall to be able to operate it. – Asya Kamsky Oct 7 '17 at 19:44
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That's pretty common actually. There's very little room back there if you expect to be able to shove the stove all the way back to the wall. And if there was a leak, that little bit of drywall wasn't going to stop you, I should hope...

If you're going to do something about it, put an elbow on it. If there's no drop leg behind the wall right there, add one.

The steel wool and the plaster in the holes is to prevent the infiltration restrict the passage of rodents.

under the sink I see the same thing, the small holes that were put in the backs of the cabinet to fit water pipes through are also filled in with plaster. That's not going to be fun to remove the sink cabinet...

Take the valves off and tap the back of the cabinet with a hammer a few times. They should pull right off the wall 'no problem'. Replace all valves with 1/4 turn valves after new cabinets are in. Replaster around all the holes or pack with wool.

  • Taking cabinets out turned out to be not too hard, thanks! The filling of holes to keep critters out does seem likely and a good idea. – Asya Kamsky Oct 22 '17 at 16:19
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Gas shut-off inside plaster: why?

Because your house was built by 'professionals', and not a DIYer who plans on living with the end product.

Is there any valid reason this might have been done this way?

No.

are there options to add another shutoff valve further along the connection?

Sure. I wouldn't bother though. What you did by freeing the existing valve is good enough.

That valve is there for people to be able to remove the appliance for service or replacement. It's not for emergencies. And once the appliance is moved out it's plenty accessible.

For emergencies, go outside and use the valve by the meter to cut off gas supply.

  • Well, the plan was to replace the layer of drywall that we removed from plywood. (We scraped it all off due to its age and condition and needing to access behind the wall. But it's true we can leave a cut-out appropriate for the gas valve. I moved here from the state that has strict code about the valve being easily accessible. – Asya Kamsky Oct 22 '17 at 14:07

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