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My washing machine hot water shutoff valve doesn't close.

The laundry room has separate shutoff valves for hot and cold water. I believe that the type of valve is a quarter-turn ball valve, although the handles are much shorter than the quarter-turn ball valves used for the main water supply lines. I haven't had much luck figuring out if there is a better name for them; if there is, please enlighten me, as that might help me find more relevant information than I have been able to so far. The valves are part of an IPS Water-Tite outlet box, similar to this one: https://ipscorp.com/plumbing/watertite/supplyvalve/washingmachine/centerdrain Washing machine shutoff valves The cold water valve works normally, but the hot water valve does not close. The handle turns readily between the on and off positions, but nothing happens. After turning off the hot water at the heater, I disconnected the hose and disassembled the valve as much as I could. The handle is held in place by a hex nut screw. Below this is a stem which turns freely without seeming to engage the mechanism inside the valve that should open and close it. (Sorry, I didn't think to take pictures while I had it disassembled). I didn't see any washers or other obviously replaceable parts, or any apparent way to remove or adjust the stem (beyond turning it, which seems to have no effect).

Is there anything that can be done to repair the valve? If not, what does replacing it entail? Is it going to be necessary to open up the drywall and replace a chunk of pipe, presumably involving multiple soldered joints? That's not something I know how to do, and I'm inclined to hire a plumber rather than try to learn under these conditions. Any suggestions? If I do that, should I have him prophylactically replace the cold valve at the same time, even though it is working normally?

This is in a house that was built around 2005. I have replaced the hoses periodically, but the plumbing itself is unchanged from the original construction. This has become pretty urgent, because the washing machine has begun leaking from the bottom, and in light of its age and some other issues it is having, I want to replace rather than repair it.

Thank you in advance for any help or information you may be able to offer.


Solution: The valves were in fact threaded in place, even though there is no good point of contact on the valves to connect a wrench to. So removing them for replacement was just a matter of applying more force than I had been comfortable doing, using a channel lock to grab them by the body. I had the plumber replace both valves with a new set that is similar, but has a hexagonal piece above the threads for a wrench to grab on to. The valve after it was removed

Interesting fact: the outlet box and the valve handles both have the brand name IPS. But on the phone, an IPS customer service rep swore up and down that the valve was not theirs, they have never made a valve that looks like that, etc.

  • Welcome, George. Please take the tour to understand how we operate. "Thank you" comments are discouraged, and any answers that are helpful should be upvoted. – isherwood Oct 10 '18 at 13:11
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From what I can see the valves MAY BE threaded into a fitting and you can replace the valve with a pair of wrenches. If I am concluding correctly from what I see, the valve itself has male "iron pipe" threads probably (what is called) 1/2" MIP or maybe 3/4" MIP. These threads are also designated NPT.

Alternatively, the fitting below the valve may just be one to allow adjustment to clamp onto the plastic box and it may be that to replace this valve you really do have to cut into the drywall and cut tubing or unsolder a fitting. I think an arrangement like that ought to be a code violation, but I see there are valves sold for that set up. I have our washer valves set up so they can be changed with wrenches and I just assumed that this would be the default modern arrangement, but maybe not. You may have valves like this.

You could cut a hole in the drywall below the box and put in a plastic access port that would allow inspection and verification that joints are water tight. I would put in a large enough access port to allow the repair to be made. Since this is behind the washing machine there would be no need to restore the drywall to the standard of an exposed wall.

If what I first thought was the arrangement you would measure the diameter at the exposed threads to confirm that it is what is called 1/2" and get a replacement hot water valve with 1/2" MIP threads. These valves are available with either female or male threads so be careful to get the right one. (You could remove the old valve and take it with you, but then water to the entire house (or at least the hot water) will have to be shut off during the time you have no valve in place.

Remove the valve handle if necessary to clear the plastic box when the valve is unscrewed. Put a wrench on the wrenching flats on the fitting below the valve and unscrew the valve with another wrench or with pliers (e.g, channel locks). It is very important to firmly hold the fitting below the valve and not allow it turn as you loosen the valve.

Put pipe dope or teflon tape on the male threads of the valve and thread it in.

  • Thank you for the response Jim. So I would put the wrench on the nut immediately above the plastic to hold it in place, and then use the channel locks to try to loosen the valve, even though there isn't a an obvious "thing" to grab onto? (like a nut). That seems manageable, I'm just a little terrified of breaking something and leaving the house without hot water until it can be repaired. I hope you're right, that seems like it would be sensible way to plumb this! – George Oct 10 '18 at 12:06
  • I visited multiple hardware stores yesterday trying to find a replacement valve (based on a photograph for reference), but the first two didn't have anything and the third only had complete outlet box kits. I don't mind purchasing the whole box kit, but it wasn't clear to me whether I would be able to just swap in the valve. They had two brands, Eastman and Oatey, and both had copper sweat inlet connections. – George Oct 10 '18 at 12:10
  • I edited my answer and I now realize that the situation is probably not what I first thought. Refresh the page. Frankly I am astounded that plumbing codes would allow an arrangement where replacement of a valve would necessitate cutting into a wall, but it seems to be that way. – Jim Stewart Oct 10 '18 at 12:12
  • Jim, thank you for taking the time to reassess and to update your response. Assuming I bring in a plumber to fix this, would it make sense to ask him to replace the current arrangement with one that would allow me to more easily replace the valves in the future should that become necessary? If so, do you have any pointers about what exactly I should ask him to do? – George Oct 10 '18 at 12:31
  • We have had enough issues with various systems in the house that it doesn't surprise me that the builder would have done this without an eye towards maintainability. On the code front, this is NYC. My impression is that the code here is generally pretty strict, but that it also tends to assume that any plumbing work will be done by a professional. This setup must have passed an inspection, but I have no idea how thoroughly that inspection may have been performed, or what specifically the local code calls for. – George Oct 10 '18 at 12:36
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You are correct, they are indeed quarter turn valves. To my knowledge, there is no way to repair the valve in question. There is an alternative other than sweating copper for replacing the washer outlet box, but it still requires opening up the wall.

The alternative being a washer outlet box with sharkbite fittings for your shutoff valves. You'll still have PVC, most likely, for the drain to deal with.

I would recommend hiring a plumber to tackle this particular task.

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Our original washer valves were 1/2" multi-turn with rubber washer to brass seat and they were sweated onto the 1/2" copper tubing. The sweat joint was exposed in the box so I did not have to open up the drywall below the box. When I redid them I sweated on a fitting going to 1/2" FIP so I could thread in valves.

I thought the new quarter turn ball valves I got from HD or Lowe's were themselves 1/2" FIP and I got a "nipple" ( 1/2" MIP x 1/2" MIP) to connect the two 1/2" FIP joints on the supply and the valve, respectively. But looking at the valve it appears that the valves are actually 1/2" MIP. I don't know if this is the best way to do this. I had a lot of trouble with getting the threaded joint to stop seeping. I can see why the professionals prefer to sweat the valve in. But for an amateur using a torch inside a wall risks starting a fire. The suggestion of using a SharkBite is a good one.

washer supply hot

washer cold valve

EDIT

I said above that I had considerable trouble getting these valves to stop seeping and I think I now realize why--the threaded tubes on these long shank valves are surely straight, parallel and are not tapered! Long shanks cannot tapered. They could be tapered at the ends and straight above that, but that would show .

Only short shank valves can be tapered, Short shank valves of course could be straight, but almost certainly (at least in the US) would be tapered. I redid these three times and finally got it to a very slow seep which plugged up over a week or so. But this is not an acceptable installation. These valves were probably intended for sweating 1/2" copper tubing inside the shank. The threads were probably intended for a pair of nuts to clamp it to these now ubiquitous plastic boxes.

  • I said above that I had considerable trouble getting these valves to stop seeping and I think I now realize why--the threaded tubes on these long shank valves are surely straight, parallel and are not tapered! Long shanks cannot tapered. Only short shank valves can be tapered, Short shank valves of course could be straight, but almost certainly (at least in the US) would be tapered. I redid these three times and finally got it to a very slow seep which plugged up over a week or so. But this is not an acceptable installation. – Jim Stewart Oct 13 '18 at 1:30

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