drip leak from turn of valve for main water pipe


The valve that shuts off the water that leads to my house is dripping pretty steadily. My brother in law told me that I could fix the valve by packing the pipe with dry ice until it freezes then replace the valve. This seems a little dangerous to me since any mistake will result in disaster. Has anyone else attempted this kind of repair and am I just better off going with a plumber?
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I've never tried that, but it sounds like it could work, extra points awarded for creative thinking. There is usually a valve at the meter that can be shut off to make such repairs. My local hardware had a key and valve turner they sold that let you open the meter box and turn off the valve a crescent wrench would do to turn it off, but the key is harder to substitute. That may less than legal, but as Carlin said "Cop didn't see it, I didn't do it"
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Call water company they can turn it off at curb.
buy new valve and stuff in advance, they may either help or just install the new valve for you sometimes fopr free, since it saves them a return trip/
gate valves are best, never get stuck, never obstruct water flow and in a emergence a quarter turn stops the water.
fast off very good in a emergency
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This would be a "ball valve" NOT a gate valve.
cm

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Eric in North TX wrote:

Given that every Home Depot and Lowe's I've ever been in (quite a few in multiple states) has a big display of meter box keys and valve keys (both surface box and deep street valve), I don't think there is much issue at all. Remember that the meter has seals on it's screws and any work to bypass the meter would be pretty obvious.
That said, a friend had the same problem and we just gave the water co a call and they stopped by and turned off the street valve (could have bought the $10 valve key if we wanted) and then stopped back after a visit to the coffee shop to turn it back on when we were done replacing the valve.
Pete C.
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Your city should provide you the service of shutting off the water main for a day for a small fee. For me its 15$. Or you could buy probably at HD a main box key, [buffalo box] I would not trust freezing it , the pressure probably could just blow it out.
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m Ransley wrote:

There is commercial equipment sold specifically for doing this "ice plug" repair method so I suspect that the risk of damage is minimal if done properly. The units I've seen have a small refrigeration unit with two pipe freezing jacket things connected to it so you can form two ice plugs, one on each side of the work area and maintain them in a frozen state as long as necessary.
Pete C.
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Ask the water supplier first who is responsible for maintenance of this valve. In most places equipment inside the building must be maintained or repaired by the owner, equipment outdoors is the responsibility of the water utility.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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I got lucky; my drippy old valve was in a up vertical pipe; I was able to dry the next horizontal piece out well enough to sweat a new valve on before it got wet enough to interfer. If you aren't that lucky, two options for adding a new valve after your old one: 1) They sell a CA glue for copper pipes (you have copper don't you?) that will work on wet pipes. I haven't tried it, but bought some when a store went out of business, and plan on playing with it one of these days. 2) They also sell plastic balls that jam into pipe to block them, dissolving in an hour or two. That stops the drip long enough to sweat a new joint on. Some people recommend bread.
I would buy both; try #2, and if that doesn't work, try #1. If that doesn't work put a big bucket under the drip and call the water company in panic.
I think your BIL is pulling your leg, freezing the pipe is likely to break it.
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Sorry I meant ball valve.
call waer company its a easy fix when planned in advance
plumber has tools including curb shut off key........
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We have a nitrogen freezing system. Works well up to 2" pipe. Things get a bit more iffy on larger pipe. We seldom use the system because of cost and time. We only use it when a situation demands it. ___________________________ Keep the whole world singing. . . . DanG

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Nothing wrong with at least 'knowing' that water can be shut off quickly and efficiently at the kerb etc. In case of an emergency?
Even if there is a minimal charge of say $15. After all it's the city/town who own (and should maintain?) that shutoff? In fact that's what they use to cut you off if the water bill ain't paid.
We've only had to do it once in about 30 years; our municipality shut off water for free and were most obliging about it. Communication was excellent. there was a slight delay, so i stood by with the new valves etc ready to install until they ascertained the problem with 'their' shut off!
The kerb shut off for our property is fairly deep, some 8 feet below ground in a bank above the road ditch in front of our house. And sure enough some debris had fallen or dropped into the shut off access pipe down to it! Municipality, excavated that and cleared it.
I could then proceed.
In our case the house shutoff (not the best type but when you were in a hurry 30+ years ago building the house in the first place!) had deteriorated. Anyway we've ended up with two quarter turn ball valves, about a foot apart on a vertical run. With a union between them. This inadvertently is an excellent way to shut off and drain system at almost it lowest point; 30 inches above floor in basement!
Shut off both valves; have arrangements to catch drainage and drips. With taps etc upstairs closed, open union. Some water will drain due to gravity. Rig up drainage to a floor drain or container. Open tap etc at most distant point on system and drain whole system.
Did this on one occasion and bits of a dilapidated shut off valve washer and a small screw drained out!
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Are you talking about a house shutoff valve such as commonly found in the basement? If so, your water can also be turned off at the street valve, or "vault" where the meter is presumably located. Call your water company if you cannot find it yourself. Sometimes you can reach the valve just by sticking your arm down the hole after removing the vault cover (often looks like a small manhole cover) but usually IME you'll need a special wrench that has a long rod that reaches down into the vault and turns the valve. Sometimes you can get by with a makeshift.
The water utility may turn it on & off for you but if your area is like mine, good luck with getting it scheduled in a reasonable time.
Before you go to this trouble though, what kind of leak is it? If it is just a packing leak at the valve stem, maybe the packing nut can just be tightened? If packing replacement is necessary, it often can be done without even shutting off the water. (Theoretically. I would shut it off anyway in case unforeseen problems arise... DAMHIKT)
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Contentment makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor.
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if leak is round shaft going to handle snugging packing nut may fix trouble in 5 seconds
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The drip is on the round shaft going to the handle and it is in my basement (behind a drywall which makes replacing the valve very tricky. What is a snugging packing nut?
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Joe wrote:

theres a nut around the shaft at the body. try tightening the nut 1/2 turn. it almost always fixes stem leaks which you have. easy to do. if its really tight dont force it report back here
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It was tight but I got it to turn about an eighth of a turn and that seems to have stopped the leak, thanks! Is that just due to natual loosening or is it a symptom of a problem that needs to be fixed?
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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Joe wrote:

no problem normal washer wear, can happen to any valve.
a friends garden hose faucet leaked like that, i showed her how to fix it on mine a few years ago, mine was leaking too.
friends husband was skeptical, then amazed it worked so well. hers hasnt leaked again
you might have to do this highly complex and technical job again in a few years:)
tighten packing nut a little:) time 5 seconds:)
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I assume there is a very old washer in my valve that has become corroded and that's what needs to be replaced. The valve that is leaking is the shutoff that leads to my meter in my basement - actually both the valve before my meter and after are leaking now. I guess I'll call the water company tomorrow morning to see if it's within their jurisdiction to fix otherwise I'll see if they can shut it off from the street because I can't see any place where it can be turned off from outside my house.
snipped-for-privacy@fellspt.charm.net wrote:

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