The valve that shuts off the water that leads to my house is dripping
pretty steadily. My brother in law told me that I could fix the valve
by packing the pipe with dry ice until it freezes then replace the
valve. This seems a little dangerous to me since any mistake will
result in disaster. Has anyone else attempted this kind of repair and
am I just better off going with a plumber?
I've never tried that, but it sounds like it could work, extra points
awarded for creative thinking.
There is usually a valve at the meter that can be shut off to make such
repairs. My local hardware had a key and valve turner they sold that
let you open the meter box and turn off the valve a crescent wrench
would do to turn it off, but the key is harder to substitute. That may
less than legal, but as Carlin said "Cop didn't see it, I didn't do it"
Call water company they can turn it off at curb.
buy new valve and stuff in advance, they may either help or just
install the new valve for you sometimes fopr free, since it saves them
a return trip/
gate valves are best, never get stuck, never obstruct water flow and in
a emergence a quarter turn stops the water.
fast off very good in a emergency
Given that every Home Depot and Lowe's I've ever been in (quite a few in
multiple states) has a big display of meter box keys and valve keys
(both surface box and deep street valve), I don't think there is much
issue at all. Remember that the meter has seals on it's screws and any
work to bypass the meter would be pretty obvious.
That said, a friend had the same problem and we just gave the water co a
call and they stopped by and turned off the street valve (could have
bought the $10 valve key if we wanted) and then stopped back after a
visit to the coffee shop to turn it back on when we were done replacing
Your city should provide you the service of shutting off the water main
for a day for a small fee. For me its 15$. Or you could buy probably at
HD a main box key, [buffalo box] I would not trust freezing it , the
pressure probably could just blow it out.
There is commercial equipment sold specifically for doing this "ice
plug" repair method so I suspect that the risk of damage is minimal if
done properly. The units I've seen have a small refrigeration unit with
two pipe freezing jacket things connected to it so you can form two ice
plugs, one on each side of the work area and maintain them in a frozen
state as long as necessary.
Ask the water supplier first who is responsible
for maintenance of this valve. In most places
equipment inside the building must be maintained
or repaired by the owner, equipment outdoors is
the responsibility of the water utility.
I got lucky; my drippy old valve was in a up vertical pipe; I was able to
dry the next horizontal piece out well enough to sweat a new valve on before
it got wet enough to interfer.
If you aren't that lucky, two options for adding a new valve after your old
1) They sell a CA glue for copper pipes (you have copper don't you?) that
will work on wet pipes. I haven't tried it, but bought some when a store
went out of business, and plan on playing with it one of these days.
2) They also sell plastic balls that jam into pipe to block them, dissolving
in an hour or two. That stops the drip long enough to sweat a new joint on.
Some people recommend bread.
I would buy both; try #2, and if that doesn't work, try #1. If that doesn't
work put a big bucket under the drip and call the water company in panic.
I think your BIL is pulling your leg, freezing the pipe is likely to break
We have a nitrogen freezing system. Works well up to 2" pipe.
Things get a bit more iffy on larger pipe. We seldom use the
system because of cost and time. We only use it when a situation
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
Nothing wrong with at least 'knowing' that water can be shut off
quickly and efficiently at the kerb etc. In case of an emergency?
Even if there is a minimal charge of say $15. After all it's the
city/town who own (and should maintain?) that shutoff? In fact that's
what they use to cut you off if the water bill ain't paid.
We've only had to do it once in about 30 years; our municipality shut
off water for free and were most obliging about it. Communication was
excellent. there was a slight delay, so i stood by with the new valves
etc ready to install until they ascertained the problem with 'their'
The kerb shut off for our property is fairly deep, some 8 feet below
ground in a bank above the road ditch in front of our house. And sure
enough some debris had fallen or dropped into the shut off access pipe
down to it! Municipality, excavated that and cleared it.
I could then proceed.
In our case the house shutoff (not the best type but when you were in a
hurry 30+ years ago building the house in the first place!) had
deteriorated. Anyway we've ended up with two quarter turn ball valves,
about a foot apart on a vertical run. With a union between them. This
inadvertently is an excellent way to shut off and drain system at
almost it lowest point; 30 inches above floor in basement!
Shut off both valves; have arrangements to catch drainage and drips.
With taps etc upstairs closed, open union. Some water will drain due to
gravity. Rig up drainage to a floor drain or container. Open tap etc at
most distant point on system and drain whole system.
Did this on one occasion and bits of a dilapidated shut off valve
washer and a small screw drained out!
Are you talking about a house shutoff valve such as commonly found in
the basement? If so, your water can also be turned off at the street
valve, or "vault" where the meter is presumably located. Call your
water company if you cannot find it yourself. Sometimes you can reach
the valve just by sticking your arm down the hole after removing the
vault cover (often looks like a small manhole cover) but usually IME
you'll need a special wrench that has a long rod that reaches down
into the vault and turns the valve. Sometimes you can get by with a
The water utility may turn it on & off for you but if your area is
like mine, good luck with getting it scheduled in a reasonable time.
Before you go to this trouble though, what kind of leak is it? If it
is just a packing leak at the valve stem, maybe the packing nut can
just be tightened? If packing replacement is necessary, it often
can be done without even shutting off the water. (Theoretically. I
would shut it off anyway in case unforeseen problems arise... DAMHIKT)
Contentment makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor.
It was tight but I got it to turn about an eighth of a turn and that
seems to have stopped the leak, thanks! Is that just due to natual
loosening or is it a symptom of a problem that needs to be fixed?
no problem normal washer wear, can happen to any valve.
a friends garden hose faucet leaked like that, i showed her how to fix
it on mine a few years ago, mine was leaking too.
friends husband was skeptical, then amazed it worked so well. hers
hasnt leaked again
you might have to do this highly complex and technical job again in a
tighten packing nut a little:) time 5 seconds:)
I assume there is a very old washer in my valve that has become
corroded and that's what needs to be replaced. The valve that is
leaking is the shutoff that leads to my meter in my basement - actually
both the valve before my meter and after are leaking now. I guess I'll
call the water company tomorrow morning to see if it's within their
jurisdiction to fix otherwise I'll see if they can shut it off from the
street because I can't see any place where it can be turned off from
outside my house.
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