First winter my mother is widowed, we can't get the humidifier on. Thought maybe the water to it is turned off. I'm on the phone with her and telling her to turn this saddle valve counter clockwise to turn it on.

It goes less than one turn and gets tough for her to turn. She can then go clockwise at least 2 turns with some ease.

Is counter clockwise correct to open it?

How many turns should be needed?

Should she hear water rushing, like when turning on a 1/2 pipe valve?

Is there harm in turning in clockwise?

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


Saddle valves are terrible as actual valves. They are a cheap/easy way to tap an existing water line, but that's it. After you use them a few times, you just can't rely on the needle to cleanly seal against the punctured hole of the copper pipe, and to cleanly come back out again.

saddle valve cross section

In your case it also looks like there may be some galvanic corrosion on the valve, which might also be corroding around the needle and blocking flow.

Replace with a better valve

There are many ways to do this of course, but it basically means:

  • removing the existing saddle valve
  • cutting out the small piece with the hole in it
  • putting in a tee
  • putting in a valve

1/2" sweat to 1/4" compression valve

If you really can't get any water to come out of the compression valve, then this would be the best way to fix it (and probably never have an issue again).

Use a real downstream valve

You can get away with using a saddle valve.. if you never actually use it as a valve.

Basically, use the saddle valve but put a better valve downstream. In your case, you can use a 1/4" or 3/8" (I can't tell from the photo) compression valve on the flexible copper tubing -- assuming you can get water to come out of the saddle valve.

inline 1/4" compression valve

  • Great idea about using a downstream valve. Do you know if the saddle valve stops water flow with a gasket, or if it's just the needle sealing against the hole in the pipe?
    – bitsmack
    Jul 23, 2018 at 18:49
  • @bitsmack In all the ones I've seen, it's just the needle sealing against the pipe -- metal on metal -- which is why they work so poorly as a valve.
    – gregmac
    Jul 23, 2018 at 19:13

Counter-clockwise is correct. However, it looks like that valve has a leak. If it sticks, I wouldn't mess with it too much as it might gets stuck open or leaky.

The simplest way to fix it is to just replace the saddle vale with a new one.

A better fix would be to cut that section of the pipe out and replace it with a Sharkbite T. Then you can attach a good quality quarter-turn ball valve and a Sharkbite reducer fitting. You could do this with all pre-cut parts from your local hardware store and a small pipe-cutter.

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