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The refrigerator water shutoff valve in my house has not been used in years. At some point, it seems to have been partially painted over, and there is paint inside the opening on the valve (photos below). The house isn't old enough for it to be lead-based paint. Should I:

  1. Do nothing. Use the hookup as if there were no paint.
  2. Run water through it for a few minutes before hooking up a fridge.
  3. Clean out the valve (how?), then run water through it.
  4. Replace the valve.

My goal is to avoid harming the health of anyone who uses ice or water from a refrigerator hooked up to this valve.

Photo of valve Flash photo of valve showing interior

2
  • Note that some of that is probably joint compound.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 31 at 12:53
  • Replace it. Too hard to clean well and the paint in the lines will cause nothing but trouble downstream. You should be able to find a replacement for $10 or less.
    – gnicko
    Apr 3 at 2:37

3 Answers 3

27

At this point, I'd just replace it. You're missing the connecting nut and ice makers have different connecting methods than they did years ago.

You can get a compression valve, which is what you have there for 6 bucks at your home store and replace it and be done with it. You could also replace it with a SharkBite valve for about $11.

5

If you don't clean it out well, that crud could go downstream and mess up the ice-maker valve or whatever else it's feeding.

I would scrap it out and soak it with some Goof Off. Then go at it with steel wool. If you can't get it all, replace it.

And of course flush it out before using.

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  • 3
    I like the steel wool idea. It looks like drywall compound which would sand out quick easily. I don't think I'd use Goof Off on anything that is going to be touching potable water but I don't know much about Goof Off - I'd just rather avoid any potential chemicals. Mar 31 at 4:57
  • 9
    With an old valve it might be faster and easier just to replace it, than do the work to clean it and find out after it leaks when in use.
    – crip659
    Mar 31 at 11:08
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    @concerned-homeowner, $10 for a new ball valve, two wrenches and 2 minutes work, you're done and 100% sure it's clean and not gunked up. Or $10 for a tiny can of Goof Off, plus steel wool, plus more than 2 minutes effort and you get no guarantees. What's the cost to repair the ice maker if some bits float their way in and clog it up?
    – Ian W
    Apr 1 at 4:54
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    Apparently some of the commenters here have never had a repair job go bad! I always try the easy solution first to make to avoid doing harm. Apr 1 at 14:58
  • I would not regard putting Goof-Off in potable water fittings as "doing no harm" - this is a trivial compression fitting valve replacement, odds of that "going wrong" are very, very small unless you are trying to fail. The important parts of the compression fitting were protected from the painter by the valve that's on there now.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 1 at 15:14
0

I don't think that is actually paint.. who would bother to paint inside a tap, and so far in? It looks more like calcite buildup to me. Scrape some of it out and put some citric acid on it - if it fizzes and foams up, it's calcite. Not pretty, but not harmful either. The whole pipe will be full of it anyways. Just clean the threads with a wire brush, and you're good to go.

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    You might be correct, however, it has the smooth, flowing look of either paint or, possibly joint compound, not the rough, stone-like look of mineral deposits. I'm sure nobody intentionally painted the inside of the valve, but a wayward brush would easily glop some paint in there as someone was painting the inside of the box it's in. I'm sure nobody intentionally painted the bit of pipe that it's attached to, either, but that's got paint on it too...
    – FreeMan
    Apr 1 at 12:01
  • @FreeMan from the picture, it looks like the white stuff goes up into the tap for an inch or so. That's nothing that happens just by "a wayward brush", painting up so far would require a thin brush and some dedication. No sensible person would do that. If that tap has not been used in many years (as described), and maybe just slightly dripping, such a large calcite buildup would be quite reasonable.
    – WooShell
    Apr 2 at 13:27
  • @WooShell it does go pretty deep. Apr 2 at 18:15

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