After restoring water to my sprinkler system line, I noticed it is leaking between two pieces of the valve. Is this something that can be fixed easily or do I need to have a plumber come out and cut the pipe, replace the valve and re-solder everything back together? It's leaking where the bottom female part where you tighten with the wrench and the section with the "1" on it meet in the photo below.

leaking pipe photo

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  • FYI, the "union" valve nuts will spin off in opposite directions: viewed from top, the upper nut will remove in a CW direction, the lower one CCW.
    – HerrBag
    Jun 11, 2013 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


From the corrosion, I'm guessing this has been leaking for a while. If it's just a bad threaded joint, then you just need to unscrew the fittings, starting at the closest union, clean the threads, reapply some pipe dope to the male threads, and screw them back together in reverse order. It's a pretty easy repair requiring a couple of large wrenches, a wire brush, and pipe dope. If you have an inside shutoff to just this line, it's very DIY.

If the valve is leaking from the stem, and that's a 1/4 turn shutoff, then you should simply replace it. These tend to be very nice valves, but there isn't much to repair when they fail.

If a soldered joint is leaking, then the pipe should be cut and soldered again with new sections of pipe.

Unless this has been leaking ever since the installation, I'd guess it failed from freezing. Make sure these lines are fully drained in the winter, or wrap them with heat tape and insulation, to prevent freezing and damage in the future. And if you don't have an inside shutoff to this line, you really should get one added, along with and a drain line.

  • Thanks for the reply! I believe it's leaking from the stem (sorry for the stupid question but that's what you mean by the piece between the two male threads, right?). So I can just unscrew it from both of those threaded ends and replace that piece? Thanks again! Jun 9, 2013 at 13:40
  • @BurritoHomeboy The stem is the part of the valve where the shutoff handle is attached (on the left side in your picture). On the older gate valves, you have a packing material around the stem to keep it from leaking, and that material would often fail after a few years.
    – BMitch
    Jun 9, 2013 at 15:27
  • FYI, a "union" is a piece of threaded pipe that has a slip joint in the middle to allow you to unscrew one side without rotating your entire house around the other side. It may look like two nuts in close succession. They're very convenient for those of us with homes that don't easily flip over. :)
    – BMitch
    Jun 9, 2013 at 15:31
  • Actually, that looks like a ball valve to me. I recently installed a new one and it leaked from the stem area. I removed the handle nut and and snugged (7-15 ft-lbs) the next lower nut (gland nut). Leak stopped
    – HerrBag
    Jun 9, 2013 at 20:20
  • @HerrBag, pretty sure the OP does have a ball valve, I didn't explain it very well (gate valve comment was about how other valve types have this issue more often). Thanks for clarifying and for your fix.
    – BMitch
    Jun 9, 2013 at 20:39

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