7

I just noticed that this valve is corroded and slowly leaking (arrows point to the leaks):

enter image description here enter image description here

I started looking online for information and found this page, which discusses different types of valve, but I can't really tell whether this is a compression shutoff valve (install with wrenches) or a copper sweat shutoff valve (solder into place). Which is it, and is this a repair that I can make myself, or should I bring in a professional?

  • 1
    I get a twinge of dread at the prospect of turning one of these valves... they always leak and probably don't actually close all the way! – trognanders Jan 13 at 4:05
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    Looking in the background of the pic, I see there is another valve that is corroded in a similar fashion almost right next to the leaking one. If the fix/repair for this one isn't too difficult or time consuming, consider doing the same to all valves that look like this one while the water is off and it's all fresh in your mind. It can help prevent problems later. I understand "if it's not broke, don't fix it", but depending on how you look at it, if it's similarly corroded, it's similarly broke, you just can't tell that ATM if there aren't any obvious leaks. – computercarguy Jan 13 at 18:35
16

That's a soldered valve, with a drain cap (typical for things that you might drain for the winter after shutting them off, though not always employed that way.)

Replacement is not the only solution, and may not be the best option.

The packing nut leak (right side) might be as simple as using a pair of wrenches to slightly tighten the nut on the handle stem. The wrench close to the valve body is just holding still so you don't twist the pipes while tightening the nut closer to the handle. In more extreme cases you might need to repack it (shut off water, remove handle and nut, replace packing material.)

The drain cap (left side drip) may either need to be tightened slightly, or else shut off the valve, remove the cap, with a bucket to catch the water that drains out (if the valve was installed in the correct direction, you don't have to shut off the main supply) and replace the gasket in the cap, or get a new cap with gasket.

  • How much, if at all, do I need to worry about the corrosion? – crmdgn Jan 12 at 15:56
  • Not much, unless you find that the drain cap is physically compromised when you clean it up. When you stop the leaks, the corrosion will stop, and it's mostly cosmetic, other than the possibility (hard to tell before clean-up) that the cap is compromised. – Ecnerwal Jan 12 at 16:00
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    You might want to expand your answer with some information on how one determines if the valve was installed the right way round. – Peter Green Jan 13 at 0:29
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    The corrosion on the drain cap looks very extreme. @crmdgn, you can certainly try to repair it, but if the valve breaks while you're working on it, at least have a backup plan for replacement in mind. – JPhi1618 Jan 13 at 20:36
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It is absoloutely possible to DIY plumbing in most cases, but it pays to take some time to fully understand the situation before you start.

The first thing I would do is evaluate the broader situation.

  • What does that valve feed?
  • where is it fed from?
  • Is there another shutoff valve upstream?
  • Does the upstream shutoff valve work?
  • Does the upstream shutoff valve require special tools to operate?
  • what else does the upstream shutoff valve shut off? if push came to shove can you live without it for a few days?

Unfortunately your existing valve is soldered in, which makes replacing it non-trivial. So I would probably start by investigating the repair options Ecnerwal has mentioned. However, before I started I would want to have a plan in place for what I would do If things go wrong and I had to switch strategies from repair to replace.

My replacement strategy would probably involve cutting the valve out and fitting a new valve with compression fittings. Unfortunately cutting the valve out will probably leave a gap too long to fit a new one, so it would probably be necessary to cut out a longer length of pipe and then fit a new section of pipe and a coupler.

Looking at your other posts it looks like you are in the USA, while I am in the UK. So the exact products available may differ. Depending on how much play is in the pipes it may be difficult to fit a regular coupler. In the UK you get special "repair couplers" that are longer than a normal coupler and only have a depth stop at one end, so you can slide them onto one pipe and then back onto the other one. I'm not sure if similar products are available in the USA.

  • +1 for letting me know there is such a think as a repair coupler – Keith Miller Jan 13 at 14:47
  • Push-fit connections like "shark bite" are more popular in the US and have taken the market away from compression fittings. Clean the pipe well, and they make connections super quick and easy. – JPhi1618 Jan 13 at 20:38
  • How well do pushfits handle the cases where you have to wrestle the pipes in place, often off-axis and can only straighten them up after they are in the fitting? – Peter Green Jan 15 at 3:45
3

Which valve is this? Hopefully it's not the main valve to your home.

Can I safely assume you wish to avoid a propane torch and solder?

Assuming that you can turn off the main water supply and assuming you never plan to actually use this valve then I would highly recommend cutting out that section of pipe and replacing it with two SharkBite push-to-connect couplings and a short piece of copper.

enter image description here

Supplies needed:

  • Pipe cutter - cut the copper pipe
  • A bucket - to catch drained water
  • Reamer/deburr tool - remove sharp edges inside and outside the pipe
  • Emery cloth or 180 grit sandpaper - sand off any grime from the end of the pipe
  • Short section of copper pipe (not sure if you currently have 1/2 inch or 3/4 so you need to measure)
  • 2 SharkBite push-to-connect couplings: half-inch or three-quarter depending on your pipe size
  • SharkBite depth gauge - use this to mark how deep the copper needs to be inserted into the SharkBite coupling if you want to make sure you did it right.

This should take you no longer than 30 minutes from start to finish.


If you want a shutoff valve there then SharkBite makes shutoff ball valves as well. You may need to cut out a larger section of pipe so that you can accommodate this pipe layout:

original copper > coupling > short new copper > ball valve > original copper

  • IMO skip the second new copper pipe and coupler. Simply Original copper > coupling > short new copper > ball valve > old copper. Saved 10$ and 1 less join to fail. – Rémi Jan 13 at 16:09
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  • Also worth adding a reminder to consider where the valve ends up being positioned after replacement if you're not doing an exact 1-to-1 swap. Moving it 'just a few inches' can put the handle right under a joist or somewhere else that makes it harder than needed to turn. - Also changes in equipment layout since the valve was originally installed may make it worthwhile to relocate the valve or other plumbing entirely. – TheLuckless Jan 13 at 17:13
  • @MonkeyZeus That valve is on the hot water supply to the dishwasher, so I don't think I want to get rid of it entirely (in case I replace the dishwasher down the road). Or is that not a problem? – crmdgn Jan 14 at 15:05
  • @crmdgn That's your call. I assume you've never used that valve given it's current condition but if you do get rid of your dishwasher or simply need to replace it then it will be much easier if you have a working shutoff valve. See the last paragraph of my post about SharkBite ball valves. I think it will prove to be the most DIY friendly solution and won't turn out to be a cob-job. – MonkeyZeus Jan 14 at 15:12

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