Water Stop Valve Next to House - Needed?

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After receiving a rather high utility bill, I noticed that the city was charging me for 11,000 gallons of water usage; just a little high for two people. So after a long inspection, I discovered that there is a leaking stop valve on the underground water main about 8" from the house's foundation. The following picture shows exactly where this leak is:
http://www.dafunks.com/misc/ShutOffValve_Leak.jpg
So I went to Home Depot & Lowe's for a valve kit replacement and they only carried the entire valve. The current valve is soldered on to copper pipe.
The reason for my post: Is there even a need for this valve? Or would it be better just to remove the valve and replace it with a straight piece of copper?
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Andy suggests: Before you replace it, I suggest you get a wrench and turn the big nut closest to the valve body a little to see if tightening it will stop the leaking.
Usually these things leak from the stem, which is higher up on the diagram than your illustration, and tightening there will often stop it if the internal packing is in good shape. These valves can be disassembled in place and repaired. Remember to turn off the water at the meter first if you do this and turn on an outside spigot to release the pressure in the line.....
Replacing it, in place, can be a messy job. You can do it, but it will take you 10 times as long as you think it should, and you will probably have to make extra trips to Home Depot for stuff you might find you need, halfway thru the job.
Try tightening it before going to all that trouble.
And, yes, you need a shutoff valve, since often the city valve is kept in a locked compartment at the meter. You can buy a key, or make a key, but sometimes the city gets very anally retentive if you mess with their stuff. Some of our local cities have fines for tampering, even if you are doing the "right" thing. A customer controlled shutoff valve is very good, especially when you are changing faucet washers on spigots or putting in a new hot water heater.....
Andy
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Andy wrote:

I tried tightening it and there was no luck. I unscrewed it and wrapped it about 6 times with Teflon tape. That slowed the leak down from 1/2 gallon per minute to one drip every other second. I'd still prefer no leak at all.
The compartment that contains the meter/valve at the street is not locked in any way. I've been using the valve to shut off water for various plumbing repairs for about 5 years now. I was a bit surprised to uncover this 2nd valve underground.
As for replacing the unnecessary additional valve, I think I've narrowed down all the tools I need: - Hacksaw - Medium-grit sandpaper - Wire brush to clean inside pipe - 3/4" Copper Pipe - Solder - Torch - 2 3/4" copper fittings - Flux - Patience
(Thank goodness the weather has been in the 60's recently.)
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Teflon tape is not designed for that. Before you replace the whole valve, try some valve stem packing. http://www.jameswalker.biz/group/categories/valve_stem_packings.html http://www.gore.com/en_xx/products/sealants/packing/gore-tex_valve_stem_packing.html

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Is the valve buried underground?

is:
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He said it was on the "underground water main"

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Yes, the valve is buried 18" underground (we live in Alabama). There is another main cutoff valve next to the meter near the street.
Bob wrote:

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In my area, there is a shut off at the curb, and no shut off until after the water line goes into the basement.

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Now that makes sense; especially if you want to diagnose if a water leak is in the house or underground. I'll go on and remove this extra valve for now. In the future, I'll look into adding a stop valve in the crawlspace.
Bob wrote:

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Do not remove any existing valve without installing a new shut off somewhere. The shut off should be easily accessible to anyone in an emergency. If you have a high crawl space, that might be ok, but you should check your code first. There was a reason it was outside.

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I would put a box around it something like they sell for irrigation valves so that it is not buried, and is available for use.

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wrote:

At the place I used to live, there was such a valve, a little in from the meter. It was not in a box. I didn't even know about this valve until it started leaking. The valve was then replaced and put in a box.
Here, I know about the valve. It's one of those where the handle looks like a bent iron rod. It appears to have gotten stuck 20 years ago and never been usable since.

--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
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Mark Lloyd wrote:

Those are "stop and waste" valves. 1/4 turn or 1/2 turn shuts it off and opens a hole that drains every thing down stream. I needed a "stop" valve (no waste) to connect a secondary well. Couldn't find one so had to use a gate valve in its place as I was able to shade tree mechanic an actuating rod to the valve handle. Couldn't figure a way to do it wiht a normal 1/4 turn valve.
Harry K
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wrote:

I have a valve just inside my basement. There is a meter under the sidewalk that parallels the street, with an iron lid, but apparently we were going to have to pay for the meter reader to read all the meters, and agreed 25 years ago just to split the bill evenly for all 109 houses, and they only read the meter that supplies the whole group of houses. So I've never seen what is inside. Probably 2 meters and 2 valves for 2 townhouses, although that might make it pretty crowded.

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18 inches underground is not really that easy to access
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Good point. Maybe I'll leave it 18" underground where it is easily accessible. ;)
Seriously, anyone can use the stop valve at the street; that's why it's there.
Bob wrote:

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wrote:

That's not why it's there. It's there for the water company to use. Someday, perhaps tomorrow, someone in town or in this sector will do something stupid and the water company will order all the valve boxes checked and any that are unlocked, locked. Maybe with a bolt with a 5-sided head.
Buy the valve they wanted to sell you. Disassemble it and take everything but the actual valve body. Compare those parts with the ones you took out of the one in the yard. The odds are at least 50% (Is that right guys?) that they will be the same, Mostly that the threads will be the same (diameter, threads per inch, and a length that will work with the current body). If not, measure everything and draw a sketch, and take it to a professional plumbing supply company and buy one that does match. (Even switching from HD to Lowes or Ace hardware or what else there is may enable you to match it. In fact, if they sell two models, or different models/brands at differnet stores, buy 'em all and return the ones you don't use. No one will criticize you in this situation, for doing that.)
Then reassemble the thing and it won't leak at all.
I don't know how hard it would be to solder a pipe in place of the valve but a) it is wet in there. b) you can't see the bottom of it. Maybe with a mirror, but it will take 10 times as much time as expected. c) most people complain when they don't have enough valves, not the other way around. d) The list of tools and materials you gave in the other post is inadequate. How are you going to get the second copper fitting on the splice pipe and the original pipe? I spent close to an hour on this when I tried to replace my water heater in place, and I never did succeed iirc in getting the connector fitting on what I had thought would be the easy way. Lucky for me there was some flex in the original pipe. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're not ready. Ask more questions.
If you do know what I'm talking about, how did you plan to do it?
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Inlined.

I've lived in this city for 31 years and they have yet to do something like you mention. I sincerely doubt they ever will; too many houses were built with the assumption that homeowners could turn off the water at the street.

Tried that already; 4 different brands. The assemblies were quite different.

I have already dug a semicircular 3 foot diameter pit that is at least 2.5 feet deep. I've got a lot of room to work. The area dries out pretty quick when the water is cut off.

Yup, was planning to use a small mirror.

I'd rather relocate the valve to an accessible area. I've been told countless times that these valves should not be buried. Case in point.

There is about 1" of give in all directions (side to side, up and down, in and out) in the section going into the house.
These are good points. Am I missing anything?
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wrote:

If you have a whole inch of leeway, longitudinally, parallel to the pipes, I'm a bit surprised. I would expect the pipes to be pretty firmly attached to the house and to the meter.
But anyhow, my point was that I thought with the copper connector pipes, the coupling, for the copper pipe I was using for my water heater, I would be able to slide the couling all the way on one pipe, put the other part to be spliced back over the coupling, and move half the length of the coupling back over that pipe;
It turns out there is a dimple inside the coupling, at the midpoint,
--- Maybe there are couplers without that dimple??????????????? ----
and the coupling won't go more than half its length on to either pipe. If I made the empty space between the two pipes bigger, half the length of the coupling, I could put the pipe in place, but then I would only have a quarter of the coupling overlapping the pipe. If the solder joint I made was good, that would be enough, but I didn't want to waste the other 1/2 inch. So I tried to file the dimple away, I tired to grind it away, with little grind stones and an electric drill (maybe a Dremel would have worked better in this case, but I didn't have one.) but it was hard to aim right and after what I think was an hour, I still couldn't get it on. The top of the water heater woudn't go lower, the pipe wouldn't go higher. I don't remember how I got it on. (two of them, hot and cold.)

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mm wrote:

You might look for a "Dresser" coupling. It is a larger section of pipe threaded both ends with compression fittings. Can be slid totally onto one of the pipes and then back over the other one then tightened in place. Of course you are then adding more pipe to be cut out to clear that coupling plus the stub end of copper that will have to be soldered to the valve.
Your desire to put it in a better location is the right way to go but I don't think a crawl space would qualify. There surely must be someplace accessible in the basement (if you have one) or in theliving area where the in pipe surfaces in a spot that can be reached before it branches or reaches an appliance.
Harry K
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