Anyone know much about installing these or where to get them? I want to
install a remote shutoff for my folks who can't get up and down stairs so
well anymore. I want to install a simple system that can run from AGM deep
cycle batteries and a charger. A two position rotary switch upstairs will
indicate open or closed. I've looked at systems like the Watercop, but
they're pretty damn pricey.
Surely there have to be cheaper, full bore motorized valves for far less
than that. They have an alarm controller that can sense water leaks and
activate the valve which I'll wire up later. Right now, I just want them to
be able to shut down the whole house (and probably the hose bibs in the
winter - so I'll likely need three valves).
From what I've read, the valve(s) needs to be a ball-type for controlling
the main water line because it can open to full pipe capacity (3/4" ID
copper pipe, in this case).
Should I go for threaded or sweated connections?
Stainless or brass?
Ahead, behind or in place of the manual valve there now?
Thanks in advance for any comments, advice or suggestions!
Hmm. Not really sure _why_ you seem to think you need motorized
shutoffs... how often are these pipes bursting? But I guess your have
- Do you really need the battery/charger combo? You could alternatively
use a simple AC/DC transformer, or just an AC transformer, depending on
the valve requirements.
- I have been told that garden centers may have motorized pumps (meant
for sprinkler systems), but that they probably are not cheap ($100 each
at least). And these may run on 120VAC, too.
Yes - I really need the battery/low voltage control option.
Don't need a pump, I need a valve. The automated sprinkler systems like
Rainbird usually have plastic bodies and I'm afraid that might not do for a
code approved main shutoff valve. Here's an idea what a valve that *does*
meet code looks like:
The problem is that it's $400. I am a fairly good judge of what it costs to
make or market something and that brass valve the control unit sits on has
to be available elsewhere, with a simpler controller, for less that $400 or
even $100. I really do NOT need the wireless control system of the
Watercop, just the motorized valve.
Some local plumbing codes appear to call for full bore valves (valve opening
as big as incoming and outgoing pipes) and from what I've read, that means a
ball valve with a 1/4 turn handle.
I''m pretty sure based on Google searches that someone here has done
something similar, and done it to code. Hopefully they'll have some
Since water damage is the number one claim made by homeowners to their
insurance companies it makes a lot of sense (to me, anyway) to try to lessen
the potential for a burst washing machine hose or an overflowing toilet
damaging an entire house when a simple "aspirin in the clothespin" water
detector and a cheap alarm panel will allow remote shutdown of the water
But the primary concern is I don't want my Dad to break his neck trying to
get down the stairs in a hurry late at night with severe osteoarthritis when
a toilet overflow is in progress. We had a near fatality over just such an
incident (broken washing machine hose) when he fell.
IIRC, in some earthquake zones such shutdown systems for gas lines, at
least, are now part of the building code for new construction, but I could
I figure a 3-valve shutoff system to take care of the house and the two
outside hose bibs shouldn't cost more than $200 in parts - valve bodies and
motor actuators just aren't that complicated or uncommon.
The Internet usually offers both a sanity check and the cheapest places to
buy specialized equipment. Hopefully someone will post a URL or point me in
the right direction for 12 or 24VDC brass, full bore, shutoff valves
suitable for cutting the water supply to the entire house.
Thanks for your suggestions, Kevin!
1. Are there shutoff valves at the toilet? At the washing machine? If so, why
the need to shut off everything, when it could be shut off at the problem? If
not, then... install some.
2. Tell Dad to take his time trying to get the water shut off. I'm sure you'd
rather help your parents fix up water damage, than to have one of them
3. It's probably less expense, and possibly less work too, to re-plumb the
incoming water line up to the main floor, and put the shutoff there.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Do you know someone with bad osteoarthritis? The little valve below and
behind the toilet might as well be a million miles away. I can hardly reach
it or turn it with my much younger hands. Dad could NEVER do it.
Yes, and that's a trip down the stairs by Dad when a hose bursts late at
night, half asleep, on rickety legs with bad vision. I'm really quite
competent at assessing my precise needs and I've already ruled out the
options you're suggesting. I did that very early on in the process for
reasons that are very important to me and seem pretty obvious from my
pretty clear. I want a "whole hose shutoff" using a valve just like the one
www.watercop.com but without the expensive wireless controller part.
If I thought that would have been the solution I would have tried it.
People panic when there's water spraying all over the place or flowing out
of the toilet. They behave in less than optimal way when they panic. I
could tell him the procedure he *should* follow until I am blue in the face.
I know what he *will* do because he's done it twice before. That's why I
have taken the approach I've selected.
A remotely controllable shutoff valves means I can install leak detectors
and remote cutoff switches wherever I like and, with the proper electronics,
even make sure the water is shut off from 100's of miles away. The answer
my question is "remotely controllable motorized 3/4"full bore valve." All
other options are excluded.
I've got the specs for the solution I've chosen, I've even found the product
that hundreds if not thousands of people use to accomplish this very goal -
the Watercop. I just don't think it's worth $400. I'm hoping the some
experienced plumbing maven here will say "that's a Framis 345 3/4" solenoid
valve you can buy at BigStore for X."
Less work to run a big loop up another story than to splice in a valve? Not
on my planet! No way, not ever!
This is a simple cut and splice of a motorized valve into a very accessible
incoming water line. It will allow me to do all sorts of wonderful things
automatically that a hideously ugly run of new pipe up a floor and back down
would hardly accomplish.
You're not suggesting that for real, are you? Would you do that in your own
house? Really?????? Their shutoff is directly below the living room. Boy
would that be an ugly, ugly solution and one that could threaten to flood
the living room if the shutoff breaks. No thanks!
I'm kind of shocked that no one here seems to know of the Watercop or where
to find the underlying motorized valve that makes it work. It's not
UFO-based technology - it's been around for years and insurance companies
often give substantial premium discounts to people who have automatic
shutoff of water upon leak detection (or in my case, on command).
Is there a plumbing-only newsgroup I should be looking in?
"The FloLogic System consists of a flow sensor and user interface that
controls a motor-driven ball valve"
That at least confirms my suspicion that such an application requires a ball
valve for unrestricted flow when open. It also give me an idea of what to
look for in stock motorized valves, so it's a useful citation. Thanks!
It's clear that there are lots of different grades of valve on the market.
Some of the ones I've looked at are rated at NEMA 7, which apparently is
I just want a nice, inexpensive, house-rated, 3.4" motorized ball valve that
won't make a plumbing inspector have heart failure. I may end up shelling
out the money for a Watercop after all. :-(
Thanks for the URL, I'll give them a look.
I say old boy; that's hardly cricket is it? :-)
Still vividly recall myself, an immigrant ex-Brit, trying to explain the
significance of the 'Boston Tea Party' and it's role in the US War of
Independence to a Mexican-American, United States Airforce serviceman (whose
mother tongue was Spanish) who was my neighbour! His view of history down at
that end of his country was something to do with the 1845 US-Mexican war!
wrote in message
But he's looking for a 12 or 24 volt solution !
And a whole house one, too. I really want to avoid a fixture by fixture
Somewhere there's a fairly inexpensive, motorized 3/4" brass ball valve with
a 12 or 24VDC actuator. I'll just have to keep looking.
Try an industrial supply house like McMaster-Carr at
http://www.mcmaster.com , MSC at http://www.mscdirect.com or Grainger at
http://www.grainger.com. Grainger may not sell to you unless you can route
the order through a company. McMaster-Carr will and is excellent except on
price. I've never orderd from MSC.
They all show many "actuated ball valves". It looks like you may not be
happy with the cost based on a quick glance but I didn't try to find the
best fit for your application. I think the problem is that actuated valves
aren't excactly a mass market item so I doubt you're going to get one super
Yes, I looked at two of the three sites above and the valves are nice but
pricey. They are probably overbuilt, at least for my needs. A Google
search led to Grainger's - they have some fairly cheap low-power DC solenoid
valves. It may be a problem getting product from them, as you point out.
Thanks for the URL'S!
Here is a stunned idea, maybe?
Our manual brass water shut-off is a ball valve-cock that turns 90 degrees
from 'full on' to 'off'. We replaced it a few years ago in place of the
original multiple turns valve. It is in our basement immediately below the
wall of the hallway on the main floor above.
Is it possible for you to rig a steel cable up through the floor to the
wall, room or cupboard above that would pull the handle of such a water shut
off valve from say straight down (180 degrees being the 'on' position) to
half way up (the 90 or 270 degrees position) thus shutting off the water?
Realize this will not give you an electrical indication of being off but
main thing is that parent could pull it to shut off all water without
descending/ascending stairs in a hurry. Now in my 70s and sometimes taking
steps one at a time, I appreciate your ideas, btw.
Another stupid idea might be, if possible, to route the water line upstairs
through a cupboard etc. via a ball-cock shut off valve and then back down
Our water line is 3/4 copper. But using today's code approved plastic pipes
might be easier?
BTW I must look around to see if we have a 12 or 24 volt solenoid operated
water valve somewhere, left over from a competition. I seem to recall it had
three quarter inch threaded brass connections and a plastic capped operating
Will advise if I can find it.
I'm really locked into the electrical valve for a number of reasons, the
primary one being that I can rig water sensors and autoshutoffs pretty
easily at each potential problem point. Mom's getting forgetful, too, and
she has been known to leave the water running and get distracted by a phone
Thanks. I've gotten some pretty good pointers and have discovered that
Magnatrol, the valve maker I believe that Matt pointed me to, also makes
valves for nuclear power plants. If it's good enough for them, it's good
enough for me! Besides, an electric shut-off valve is probably going to
make the house the least non-standard of all the options suggested. If I
move, I can unscrew it and replace it with a manual valve or a simple piece
of pipe pretty easily.
The house is almost all copper pipe. I don't think I am going to switch to
plastic. It's OK for DWV stuff, but I prefer copper and sweated joints for
pressure lines. I hope that doesn't start a flame war. I just prefer to
use stuff that won't melt and burn in a fire.
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