repacking a main valve

Hi all
am helping a friend remodel his downstairs bathroom, and as a result have had to mess with the plumbing. Two valves in his laundry room were dripping when I noticed them; one being the cold water shutoff for the washing machine, and the other being the main shutoff for the house. I tightened down the packing nuts on both and of course the one for the washer is now fine, but the one for the main is still seeping.
I'm having a hard time visualizing, probably because I've been up late every night this week either playing with power tools or huffing flux fumes. On a typical older stop and waste valve, if I shut the valve off, can I remove the packing nut and shove some more packing in there without having the water shut off *prior* to that valve? Obviously that is one valve that I'm not going to offer to replace for him because of the possibility of Things Going Badly (I don't even know where the street shutoff is...)
On the upside, my soldering skills have improved dramatically what with all the practice. I (touch wood) didn't have a single leaky joint...
thanks
nate
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lmgtfy! http://lmgtfy.com/?q=repack+water+valve -----
- gpsman
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Nate Nagel wrote:

I think the answer is "yes", you can shut off the valve and loosen and remove the packing nut to add valve stem packing. I just had to do that a few weeks ago with an old toilet supply valve. I just shut it off without turning off the water supply anywhere else, then loosened the valve stem nut. In my case, even repacking the valve stem didn't work because it was an old and corroded valve with a bent valve stem. So I had to replace the valve after trying the repacking trick first.
The easy way for you to be sure is to turn off the valve and just loosen the valve stem nut a little and see what happens.
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I would just replace themain valve since its showing its age, replace with ball valve!
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bob haller wrote:

Ditto. I lucked out when city crew showed up to upgrade our water meter with WiFi remote reader. I bribed them to replace the main shut off with ball valve I already had for the purpose. 2 six pack soda was the price.
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On 9/10/2011 12:56 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

Our water utility finally realized they were causing more problems by pulling your pants down with large maintenance shutoff fees so now all you need to do is call and inform them you need to do maintenance and they will schedule a no charge truck roll.
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On 09/10/2011 12:43 PM, bob haller wrote:

As this isn't my house, I don't think that's on the table... it's in a really inconvenient location, really only accessible by either reaching through a wall that is going to be replaced hopefully within a week, or else by removing the washer and dryer from the laundry room... and I have no way of shutting off the incoming water
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wrote:

You can usually stop leaking past the stem by adding some packing. The caveats are 1. Don't strip the packing nut. 2. The valve will become hard to crank because of packing pressure on the stem. That might clear up without leaking again and it might not. I've had mixed results adding packing. Better when I used square packing material closely matched to stem-to-case diameter.
Original valve packing is designed to a diameter that fits almost exactly between stem and valve body. It doesn't take much compression to seal. The right way to repack a valve is to remove all old packing and put new right-sized packing back in. I'm in the replace old valves camp, unless that's not practical.
--Vic
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On 09/10/2011 02:00 PM, Vic Smith wrote:

it's really not. other than the shutoff concerns, it's less than an inch from a sweat fitting in each direction.
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On Sat, 10 Sep 2011 09:38:56 -0400, Nate Nagel wrote:

Have the utility company shut the water off. Replace with a ball valve and have the water main turned back on.
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