Replacing Main Water Valve Questions.

The shut off valve coming into the house is leaking in the basement and like to replace it with a ball valve. I believe it will be simpler to install and quicker to shut off in the event of an emergency.
Anyone replace it from the normal screw type to a ball valve?
Secondary question, how do you remove the outside cast iron cover and what tools require to shut off the main?
Thank you in advance.
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Jim B wrote:

Call the utility and ask them to close the curb stop for you; there is great risk in doing it yourself as things tend to break.
Inside, you will need to break the piping apart, easy if the meter union is right there. You may need the utility to reseal the meter. Again, ask them.
Jim
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I did try to open the cast iron cover on my front yard to peep inside before I buy the stuff I need, but it wouldn't budge. Look like it had a knob to turn or something??
Do I really need to call the utility company just to turn off the water main?
Thanks again.

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main?
Do you absolutely, positively "have to?"
NO.
It's a VERY good idea. First, they might get upset if they catch our fooling around their meter. Second, (as another poster noted), if something "goes wrong," someone else will likely pay for it.
Frankly, this is one area where it would pay you to pay a professional plumber to handle the whole thing. With a good shut off valve you can do almost any plumbing in your house without risk.
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Let me tell you a story.. Shortly after we moved into the house, our eight years old plus, 40 gal water heater failed to remain lighted. I paid the plumber $80, 15 minutes to replaced the thermostat. A few days later it again failed to remain lighted. Hmm... I figured it will cost another $100 plus for the plumber to fixed the same problem and there is there is no guarantee it will be trouble free.
I decided to replace it with a 10-year warranty US Craftmaster heater for $125. I also bought copper pipes, pipe cutter, solder, two flexible PTFE hoses (high temps stainless steel braided hose), a ball valve and precise length black gas pipes. I took all safety precautions, checked and rechecked everything, then spend a few hours to replaced the water heater, I am basically underweight.
I am NOT saying I know everything, but I will try to DIY. Everyone knows it cost you an arm or leg if you call a plumber or electrician. I have experienced in silver solder extreme pressure (10,000 psi high impulse) hydraulic hoses couplings.
My only problems, will the Midwest freezing temp in winter affect the ball valve and how to turn on the gate valve outside the house.
Anyway I do appreciate your concern and I will certainly let the City take care of the valve outside the house.
Thanks again. :-)

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it cost

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I do not question you ability to put in a simple valve but the "pro" usually has a truck load of "stuff" so that if something breaks he just runs out to the truck. If you are changing the main valve you might have to leave your water off overnight.
Second, it's a good idea to at least "guage" the plumbers just to see how much things might cost in the future if you have to call someone if.
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wrote:

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Great to be able to do everything yourself. But as soon as you mention *Gas* you're in a "big risk, little reward" situation in my opinion. Liability is the word--do you think that your insurance company will pay for a home replacement if they investigate and find out that it was a home, DIY, unlicensed installation that caused the gas leak and Kabooom that followed. Even though it hurts to pay for something that you can handle on your own, is the risk worth it?
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Probably depends on where you live. What does the cover look like? and how wide? if there is a meter inside then they take it off freguently to read the meter. Often the bolt (actually a screw) that holds the lid on is five sided but a crescent type wrench will open it anyway. Maybe you are turning it the wrong direction. Try tapping all around with a ball peen hammer.
Jim B wrote:

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-snip-
Where is it leaking? Does it just need packing? I tolerated a drip for 15 year until it rotted the iron gate valve handle. When I went to the hardware to buy a new valve, the guy asked why I didn't just buy a handle & some packing.
Duh---- less than $5 & twenty minutes later I have a leak-free valve with a new handle.
Jim
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The leak is definitely require the dismantle of the valve to cure the problem. However, I'm more interested in replacing the gate type valve to a ball, what do you think?
Thanks

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Don't try to shut off the outside (city) shut off valve.let the city do it.. I recently had to replace my inside shutoff valve and when the city workers tried to shut off the water to the house the long connecting rod (surface to valve) broke due to years of non use and rust. Result was the street had to be dig up to get at the valve, the rod replaced and then the top repaved. Plumber replaced old gate valve with a ball valve and the cost was reasonable and worth it. My plumber refused to shut off the outside water supply because "sometimes bad things happen". I guess he knew what he was talking about. MLD
wrote:

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On Wed, 1 Sep 2004 09:13:44 -0700, Jim B wrote

Jim B -
I can't help with the outside cast iron cover. I've never seen anything meeting the description. In Los Angeles, we generally have cement meter boxes by the curb with covers that simply lift out. The curb stop is turned by a very large T-wrench about 4 feet long that has a two-sided socket which engages the small rectangular handle - a good hardware shop or commercial plumbing supply item. They're a useful tool to own in earthquake country. However, as other posters have observed, the stop is utility property here and, I imagine, elsewhere as well. If it's frozen, don't try to force it, call them. They'll probably do the same thing in your area they do here, which is to send out a crew to disassemble/lubricate/repair or replace the valve (which may have not been operated for a long time). Once that's done and you have the correct tool, you can operate it yourself.
As far as ball valves go. I replumbed my house 15 years ago and installed nylon-seat/stainless-ball copper sweat type valves for the main and all others. Very satisfactory improvement. They operate easily and have no packings to leak. You need to be proficient at sweat-soldering to install them without frying the nylon seat. Unlike traditional valves, you can't remove the non-metal parts for soldering. (You shouldn't have to do this, but it's safer if you're prone to over-heating the fitting).
I'm also very impressed with the ball-valve version of supply stops that have become available about 10 years ago. I know various posters have said they or their plumbers are hesitant to use them, but I've had no problems. They don't freeze or stick and have no packings to leak. Of course, we don't know how they'll hold up in 40 years, but so far so good.
Good Luck,
- Kenneth
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Thanks, you have given me sufficient information to go ahead to replace with ball valve. I do appreciate your input.

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I've noticed these "No-Sweat" ball valves that I believe have a union on each end. You just slide a nut onto the end of the pipe and then solder a hub on, so you can't overheat the valve itself. Would one of these be suitable for a house main shutoff valve?
Thanks, Wayne
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Jim B wrote:

My main shutoff was an ancient and too-small globe valve, and when it sprang a fast leak in winter while the street valve was unaccessable, I hired a plumber to replace it with a ball valve. He froze the pipe with a portable pipe freezer and replaced it. While he was here and I was paying for an hour service call, I had him snake a slow floor drain and a few other quick plumbing repairs I had been putting off. I think it cost a little over $100 including the freeze-machine rental. It was well worth it, mostly for his bonding and insurance if something had gone wrong with that main valve.
Best regards, Bob
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