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To access the shut-off valve in my condo, I need to physically enter the crawlspace and squeeze through a knee wall, all the while avoiding ductwork, cables, and other pipes. The photo below is taken from the crawlspace access hatch. The valve is probably about three feet from the opening, so well out of arms' reach.

The condo is rented part of the year, so I would like to make a way to easily shut off water to the whole unit in case of a leak, or if plumbing repairs are needed. I can't expect renters to enter this space and shutoff the water, meaning any leak would last as long is it took a plumber to come out. There is an outdoor shutoff, but it's under a sealed manhole cover in a row of unlabeled shutoffs for the other units.

Here are solutions I've considered:

  • Create a second way to access the valve in the floor directly above it. This would be under a staircase, so would still require some crawling, but would be significantly more accessible.
  • Remove the valve and insert some elbows and additional tubing so that it could be relocated right inside the existing crawlspace access hatch. To do this I would have to pay the water utility to shut the water off in the street, in order to be able to move the existing valve.
  • Add a second, redundant valve, downstream from the existing one (so I don't need to call/pay the utility).
  • Relocate the brackets holding the tubing and try to pull it to the access (the tubing is all pex). Given location of the studs and ductwork, I'm not sure if I could even get it close enough.
  • Replace the valve with an electrically-controlled valve. These are expensive and wouldn't work during a power outage.
  • Rotate the valve (is this possible?) so it faces the opening, then set up some sort of stop tap key to engage the valve. I could zip-tie the key to the valve and run it through a bracket in the framing so it would always be in the right spot.

Would any of these ideas work? Are there others I'm not considering?

Plumbing in crawlspace

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    Think second option be the best, but leave that valve and just add a second valve near access hatch. Make a notice that another valve is further in. – crip659 Apr 11 at 20:09
  • Since it's crimp PEX, my experience is that the joints can be rotated post-crimping (without causing leaks.) If you add a valve, use a 1/4 turn ball valve, not another one of those "failures waiting to happen." Rarely used gate valves have a bad habit of not working when you need them to work. – Ecnerwal Apr 11 at 20:31
  • @Ecnerwal the PEX is at least 15 years old (30 year original plumbing was copper which has been replaced). Should 15 year old PEX spin? Could attempts to spin it end in leaks? – LShaver Apr 11 at 20:47
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    I missed your third option of adding second valve. So will recommend that option. – crip659 Apr 11 at 20:52
  • What's the layout of the condo? I know two different people who had flooding problems in their condo because the unit above theirs burst a pipe. No matter what precautions they'd have taken in their own unit, it would not have helped. – Joe Apr 11 at 21:05
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crip659 is correct.

I vote for option #2.

You do not have to have the water utility shut off the water for option 2.

Turn off the valve, cut into the line on the house side of the existing valve, (not the city supply side). Add your elbows, piping and a 1/4 turn valve, then tie it back in to the line. Open the first valve and then your new 1/4 turn valve and you are good.

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I actually have a similar situation with a vacation house in the mountains (the crawlspace is less bad, but to get to it, you have to go down a really steep hill to get access, which sucks in the snow, ice, or rain).

I looked into electrically controlled valves. The problem is that most of them are either normally open or normally closed. (ie, they stay in one state, and then require power draw to go into the other state).

I did manage to find one that didn't require power except when changing states, the ELK-WSV2. But I never ended up getting one. The website that I had bookmarked it no longer has it, and it looks to be over $400 online currently.

Instead, I got a curb key (under $20), and started shutting off the water at the street for the year or so. (although, as a condo, that might not work for you, if it would also shut off your neighbors).

(but then I had a really wet summer, and the sump with the water shut off was all murky water, and I spent more than an hour trying to feel for the valve to turn. I've since gone to your #3, with an easy to reach shut off right where the water comes up into the house.)

This makes it so that should a pipe burst, the damage should be limited to the crawlspace, and not the living space.

update: I should've also mentioned. This Old House had a segment on "smart water shutoff valves" about a year or so ago. Lowes has one from StreamLabs for $600. It might be easier than wiring up control circuits like for the ELK-WSV2, as it shuts off automatically, and can be monitored wirelessly.

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  • here's the segment from This Old House : youtube.com/watch?v=F4v_T98QZzQ – Joe Apr 11 at 21:11
  • And the device they covered is now sold by Moen. Found one for $500 from Home Depot (3/4" pipe). And someone sells a device that installs on top of a 1/4 turn valve for way cheaper (but I don't think that's what you have from your picture ... but 1/4 turns are way better if you're regularly turning them on & off) : homedepot.com/p/… – Joe Apr 11 at 21:28
  • And I should mention -- the ELK-WSV2 runs off 12V DC, not mains power. So it'd work when power went off, but it means you need some sort of control circuit for it. (deep cycle or lawn mower battery + charger + a switch to control it remotely). The others should run off a standard UPS. – Joe Apr 11 at 21:40

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