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I had turned off the main in my basement today so I could replace a couple of leaky valves in my basement bathroom and under my upstairs kitchen sink. turned on all the valves and opened up the main. I can hear water moving through the pipes, but Im not getting any pressure anywhere in my house. its a little more then a trickle at best. Ive had everything opened for over an hour now and its not getting any better. I tapped on the valve at the main, tapped pipes as well. nothing seems to be improving. Im on city water so the pressure to my house is good. the only valves that arent open again are under my sink as I cannot connect that until tomorrow. any ideas as to what it could be? I can hear water running through the pipe at the main. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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I would not count on the main valve - it could have broke. I had similar situation last year, but in my case it was that i couldn't close the main valve. If every output - even the ones that You didn't touch - gives same response (little or no pressure), it is highly probable that main valve broke down.

I would suggest calling city plumbers (as this is main valve) to check and replace it.

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I'm in New Zealand- here, usually the main is the only valve between any outlet and the distribution network / mains. Unless there was some other valve as well, if you turned off the main valve and flow stopped, then the main valve is 99%+* liable to be the problem.

However - is there any chance that the shutoff valves under your sink also serve the rest of the house?
Can you see where the pipes go to on the "downstream" side of the valves - are you CERTAIN that they do not serve other areas. If you are not 100% certain, can you connect the sink temporarily or cap the pipes in some manner to allow you to turn on the valves which are closed 'just to see'

If the above is not the problem then two major possibilities are

  • You have not turned the main on fully. I have seen situations where there was corrosion on a valve stem leading to a stiff spot. When the valve was reopened it stiffened up part way through its travel and gave the impression that it was fully open. It wasn't.

  • The valve has jammed shut. If you have opened the handle the full number of turns then this would be possible only if the 'tap' or 'valve' did not have a hard connection from valve proper to handle.

    • eg a typical washer based tap has a washer which sits in a carrier which is pressed against the valve seat by tap handle pressure but which is moved away from the seat by water pressure. Handle and washer carrier are not hard-joined.

    • Whereas an eg gate valve has the gate hard-joined to the handle - except when the shaft breaks - if the handle is open, the gate is too.

In the 1st case only, closing and opening the valve a number of times, possibly while tapping the body in a non destructive manner, may free up a stuck washer. Or not.


Note:

(*-I say 99% but it's probably more like 99.999% - There is a very small chance indeed that you have tripped some sort of hydraulic trap where eg water in a siphon drained out and the head height is greater than mains pressure but that is vanishingly unlikely).

  • Try closing and reopening the main a few times as suggested and then call the water supplier. Might want to have all the house valves open with aerators/screens removed in case there is rust/crud getting freed up as often happens when a system is drained and refilled. Not uncommon to have brown glop from old rust deposits, and if caught on a screen that can plug things up. – Ecnerwal Jun 10 '15 at 20:21

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