There is a "kill switch" between the cold/hot water pipe and my washing machine. For the 2-3 months the switch has gotten more and more difficult to turn (both ways). What might be the cause of this issue, and what are the possible fixes?

As you can see in the enclosed picture, the switch is very close to the dry wall (and to the washing machine), so I'm concerned about the cost/work involved to get this fixed; any info/suggestion about cost, etc. is most appreciated. Because of COVID-19 I'm hesitating to have other people coming into my place, at the same time. I don't want a water leak (the washer is in the second floor! -- there is no leak at the moment or in the past).

I have not done anything to the switch since I moved to this place (20+ years). What was the "maintenance" I'm was supposed to have been doing all these years (and in the future)?

Cold/hot water switch for washing machine

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    Just out of curiosity, why are you turning this shutoff valve on/off so frequently? Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 20:54
  • 1
    @fuzzy drawings It is recommend to turn off the valves to a washer when not in use. I guess they do not trust the washer hoses not to burst. My valves are downstairs from the washer, guess how often they get turned off.
    – crip659
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


Would try some lubricating oil on the moving part, then move it back and forth a few times to see if it helps.

If that does not help, then can buy two shut off valves to add between kill switch and hoses. Can then leave kill switch open. This is low cost work around till you are happy to have someone come to replace or fix.

  • What type of lubricating oil should I use? Obviously I don't want oil to leak into the washing machine and/or the rest of the apt's water supply. Thanks!
    – underflow
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 21:41
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    Amount of oil used is usually only a few drops, if really concerned, even a few drops of vegetable oil might help. A light oil like mineral, baby oil, sewing machine oil probably better.
    – crip659
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:07
  • I dripped a few drops of cooking oil around the shaft of the handle. It makes quite a difference! Hopefully it will buy me sometime until things calm down. THANKS!
    – underflow
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:59
  • 1
    You could try WD-40
    – 0xFEE1DEAD
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 14:16
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    @0xFEE1DEAD - close. Actually... homedepot.com/p/…?
    – DMoore
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 15:58

I'm concerned about the cost/work involved to get this fixed

The valve body can stay in place as all the parts inside are servicable. Most likely it only needs new o-rings, which a plumber could do in less than 30 minutes. Plumbers charging what they do, I'd expect this to cost between $150 and $200.

A description of the work involved to disassemble and replace the o-rings is described pretty well here: https://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/mechanical-trades/ask-the-plumbing-experts/40712-disassembling-oatey-washing-machine-valve.

  • Thanks for the info & linnks. If I try to fix this myself, how should I shut off the water supply so water doesn't come out when I dissemble the switch? There is a water shutdown at the entry of the apt, but I worry that water will spit out the second I take the valve part. And how difficult a job is that? I have replace toilet valve/assembly, but never a water faucet.
    – underflow
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 21:47
  • Shut off cold inlet valve and outlet valve of hot water tank. Turn on hot and cold taps at a sink to reduce pressure. Pull out washer and place a bucket underneath and have a towel handy when removing hoses.
    – crip659
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:12
  • If you want to DIY this, you should shut off the water for your apartment then turn a faucet on to let the pressure out (and be sure the water is off). The job is a bit more difficult than a toilet valve because it has to hold full water supply pressure. This means great care must be taken to use the correct size o-rings, install them and re-assemble everything correctly or it will leak. A 20 minute job for a plumber might easily be 2+ hours for DIY'er. Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:19
  • Aaah, I forgot about the hot water part! Sounds like I need to call a plumber. Thanks for your candid and detailed advice.
    – underflow
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 22:56

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