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The shutoff valve on my water heater has an extremely slow leak. A couple years ago I disassembled it by removing the handle and changing out either the packing or the rubber washer, or maybe both (can't remember now), which did help, but sometime in the past few months it's started to leak slowly again.

Can I buy a new valve and just swap the circled area, or must I solder a complete sweat fitting. I've never soldered copper pipes before but I'm not afraid to give it a try.

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You might be able to find a valve with interchangeable parts but I'd replace it with a quarter-turn ball valve. You can either sweat one on which is not a big deal or simply install one with shark bite connections which is easier still. I recently installed one on my hot water heater. I think the quarter-turn ball valve is more reliable and less prone to failure.

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  • Every answer was good, however I'm just going to sweat a new quarter turn ball valve. I've been waiting for an excuse to learn how to sweat copper pipes anyways. May 16, 2020 at 2:36
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Possibly, but only if the interior mating surfaces are in good condition.

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I expect it is the stem packing under the top small nut that is leaking. If so a pretty simple ,cheap fix. Turn off the water upstream of this valve. Back-off the small nut to see the stem . Wrap teflon pipe dope around the stem , several wraps , as many as you can get under the nut. Tighten the nut , the teflon is a seal and a lube so the nut can be pretty tight and still turn the stem.You can make it a nicer job by pulling the stem first and polishing with 400 grit, as needed, to remove any corrosion or roughness ; then proceed as above. An old refinery maintenance guy taught me that many decades ago, I have used it on several valves.

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    Use graphite or teflon string packing (should be got at any hardware store) rather than pipe dope... May 12, 2020 at 1:50

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