Leaky cold water shutoff valve for Hot water heater

Hi all,
I posted a message earlier this morning about my A/C drain clogged,
but a quick blast with the water hose cleared it out. I have however
found the reason for the sudden water... the hot water heater is
leaking at the base.
So this evening I decided to shot-off the cold water valve going to
the hot water heater and cut the power to it... and I'd replace it
tomorrow. Problem is when I turn the cold water shutoff valve all the
way closed it starts dripping quite a bit. I open it back up a bit
and the dripping continues but not as fast.
This valve looks like an outside water fauset you'd see on the side of
your house. When I first turned the valve it was hard to turn and
some black crud and water leaked from the handle where it goes into
the valve. Is this a seal that's given way over the years? I have no
idea how old this valve is, but the house is 20 years old.
Anyway, what's involved in replacing this valve? If I have to call a
plumber out to replace this valve I might as well have him replace the
entire hot water heater. I'd love to learn how to fix this valve on
my own though, yet I want it done right.
I've seen folks replace valves like this many times on TV and I've
read an article from This Old House about sweat fitting two pipes
together -
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- so I think i can do
Suggestions?? Is this something I should call a plumber to do? I
have no idea what a plumber would charge to replace the cold water
shutoff valve and the hot water heater, but if it's a task I can do on
my own I'm up to the challenge. I just don't want to flood my house
Thanks for any tips or ideas...
Reply to
Ringo Langly
sweat some scraps together and learn how to do it before you do the actual valve. as for the rest, if you dont know what else needs or doesnt need to be done to replace the valve, call a plumber. its not rocket science, its just a valve.
Reply to
If the valve leaks around the handle when it's turned on, you may just need to replace the seal around the stem, not the entire valve. This might be a rubber o-ring, or a piece of impregnated string wrapped around the stem - it depends on your valve. From your description, I'd guess it may have a threaded cap just underneath the handle. Unscrewing this cap (AFTER you shut off the water to the house!) will let you take the stem out, and you can see what needs to be replaced. As long as you are in there, you may as well replace all washers, o-rings, and other seals (there probably won't be more than 2 or 3 anyway). You can take the stem with you to Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. and get what you need. There's a generic "how to" at
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that might be helpful.
Reply to
I thought I'd post a quick followup. The hot water heater is only 4 years old but has a 9 year warrenty. I already called GE and I'm draining it to exchange at Home Depot this afternoon. As for the cold water valve, I've been told there's a rubber seal that can be replaced to fix this -- given I can get the hex bolt loose to get into the valve. When I turned off the water last night some black, gritty water came-up from the valve handle where it goes into the valve, so with any luck replacing this rubber seal will fix the valve leak.
I'll post another update once it's all said and done. As of right now water to the house is shot off until everything's replaced.
Thanks and take care,
Reply to
Ringo Langly
If you have good access, replacing almost any valve isn't too bad at all. Cut out the bad part, replace. Plumbing is mostly tools. Buy a CUTTER for those pipes, cutting it straight really helps produce a cleaner fix.
I recently went with MAPP gas and a self-lighting torch. It cost $40 and was the best thing I ever did for DIY plumbing repairs. Not only is the gas hotter so you get much faster, more thorough heating, the self-start mechanism makes it safe to use from any angle. You'll appreciate this if you ever have to stand on your head to fix something under the sink. The propane torches always made me nervous to tilt them.
The second best thing that's happened to DIY plumbing is the digital camera revolution. I took pictures of a WEIRD setup I found inside the walls of a condo and an old Master Plumber at Home Depot recognized it right away and showed me exactly what to do. He rigged up some parts (made a new manifold) and it worked perfectly. I think I saved at least $300 with that one set of pictures. Take a picture of the problem and show it to the nearest plumber you can find - small plumbing shops, Home Depot, whatever is available. A picture tells the story better. Feel free to buy parts at little shops, we need them to stay open. It doesn't cost enough more to worry about. When you're saving $300, you can afford to pay $5 more for the parts.
Unless you have a bad back or drive a VW Bug without a sunroof, there's almost no need for a plumber to replace a water heater. They're heavy but not complicated. On the other hand, seeing it done up close will help you with the next house you buy. This stuff happens over and over.
Reply to
"sweat some scraps together and learn how to do it before you do the actual valve. as for the rest, if you dont know what else needs or doesnt need to be done to replace the valve, call a plumber. its not rocket science, its just a valve.
This is a GREAT idea. Get a vise out, clamp in a few parts and solder/unsolder them a few times. I think six practices made me confident with the MAPP torch. I got a feeling for how things would go and what a good joint looked like. You can use too much solder or not enough - practice makes you comfortable with how many inches of solder to feed into a joint. Also go through dry runs, rehearse. Get all the needed tools out before you start.
Reply to
Usually, to change a hot water heater, you have to cut copper pipes and re-solder anyway, so I wouldn't waste time screwing around with the valve. When you take the heater out, just replace it and I'd go with a 1/4 turn gate type valve.
It's not hard to learn to solder, as previously suggested, practice on a couple pieces of pipe and couplings. Use a pipe cutter to cut the pipe. Remove any remaining burr inside. Clean both the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fitting with emmery cloth or fine sandpaper, do this even on a brand new fitting. Coat with flux, then assemble. Heat the fitting area with a torch, even a cheapo Bernzomatic will work fine. Don't apply the solder until you have the piece hot enough for the solder to flow. When you touch the solder to the joint, it should melt easily and will flow by itself around and wick into the joint. Then, while it's still hot, carefully wipe with a rag to remove excess solder runs and leave a nice job, just like a pro!
PS: When you do this on the heater, it's always a good idea to have a 5 gallon bucket of water handy, just in case something catchs fire. With the water shut off, you'd be running to a faucet that doesn't work.
Reply to
Chet Hayes

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