My internal stop tap has seized up, tried penetrating oil and leaving a
hair dryer blowing on it but remains stuck fast. I've got a large wrench
but am scared of causing a flood that I won't be able to do anything
How much should a plumber charge for sorting this out (unless anyone has
any other suggestions)? Don't want to go mucking about with the outside
stop taps myself.
A hair drier doesn't transfer thermal energy quickly enough to give
differential expansion such that the casing expands faster than the
valve stem. This isn't a question of hot hot you get it - but how much
of a temperature difference you can achieve between stem and casing.
Hence a hot air gun is better than a hair drier and an oxy-acetylene
blowtorch is better still.
*Two* big wrenches shouldn't cause a flood - if used in opposition so
that no torque is actually applied to the pipework.
Outside stop taps aren't that daunting, really..
Personally, I would stick a fireblanket behind it and give it a good
blast of propane/butane blowtorch.. heat it up, cool it down with some
wet rags, then heat it up again, then cool it, then heat it...Assuming
that it isn't plastic of course and having wrenches ready to go -
especially on the compression joints..
On the shaft of the tap, there is usually a nut that compresses a washer
inside to seal the water in, try loosening that nut a couple of turns
and then try some more penetrating oil, and see if that will free it up.
You don't want to be using too much force on your indoor one either, you can
end up separating the spindle from the gate, the part that actually shuts
off the water. At best you'll almost certainly get it half way and then
stuck solid. Best to get a new one. Which of course means being able to turn
the supply off.
First, I would determine what type of outside stop tap you have. If it's an
old iron type with a square head, it could be both a problem and your
salvation. Find a means of turning it, presumably you won't have the proper
tool that you've probably seen contractors using. A spanner bent at 90deg
and fixed to a substantial bar or pipe can be used. In the case of this tap
also being seized (mine was, this is how I know) get in touch with your
water supplier and tell them it won't turn off. They will have to come and
change it, and the new one will be much simpler. It will have either a
meter, or a fitting to take a meter at a later date. If it's the same type
as mine, it comes with a plastic 10mm Allen key which makes it dead easy to
And when you've got it sorted out, here's a tip - Every couple of months,
or more if you like, turn the water off by closing the stop tap fully. Then
turn it back on all the way, and then back half a turn. This will avoid the
tap getting stuck against its stop, without impeding the water flow.
Thanks for all your replies. I gather that unless I want to risk burning
the house with a blowtorch (which I have) down I should turn the outside
tap off and replace the inside tap.
My house is 10 years old so I assume I have the new type of external
stop cock, what size allen key will I need? I've got a bunch in my
socket set. I hope they are labelled, it's going to be under one of
three covers and the covers themselves give no clue :)
I've looked around for replacement spindles but nowhere seems to sell
them. The outside diameter of the spindle containing plug is about 35mm,
is that a common size so could I get a new one and swap out the spindle?
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