The water main valve in our house is old (25 years++) and is leaking pretty
bad (3/4" copper pipe). The valve is situated just above floor level, in
which the water main pipe it is connected to comes out of a 12" deep
concrete hole (sump hole?), 24" x 24" square (weeping tile pipe drain into
this hole as well). The sump hole has a plywood cover with a slot in it for
the water main pipe to come through. The present water main valve then
leads into the water meter, then into the wall to supply the house with
water. There is also bare copper ground cable and clamp (which is badly
rusted from the leaky valve) clamped to the water main pipe below the
plywood cover as well (in the sump hole) that will have to be re-installed
I want to replace the old leaking valve with a new one that appears to allow
a bit better water flow (the new valve appears to have a bigger opening for
water flow). If I just wanted to repair the valve and not worry about
improving water flow, I could just replace the O-rings in the valve (but I
want improve water flow a bit). I will have to sweat a number of copper
fittings to complete the job.
I want to move the valve so that it is not visible, so I want to change it's
location to down into the sump hole below the plywood cover instead of above
it. Is there any problems foreseen with moving the location of the valve to
below the cover into the sump hole?
FWIW soldered fittings are not normally used (allowed)
before the meter. Maybe it's normal practice where you are...
If the valve has a drain (waste) fitting, I would have a
problem with it being in a sump for sanitary reasons.
I assume you'll have the utility shut off water at the
street for this project. If it won't shut off completely,
you'll have a really tough time soldering with water trickling thru.
Are the meter unions sealed? Will you have to break the seals
to do the work?
Since there is no union on your new valve, I don't see any reason
that the electric service grounding conductor can't be attached
above the sump. Make sure there is a bonding jumper around the
1) What the logic in not allowing soldered fittings before the meter?? Are
you supposed to use compression fittings?
2) The valve I bought (ball valve)has no drain (waste) fitting (I assume a
waste/drain fitting is the small capped fitting on the side of the valve?
The old, leaky valve has one).... .
3) I am arranging to have it shut off tomorrow. What do I do if it doesn't
shut off completely? Use compression fittings?
4) I will have to break the meter's seal (I just had the old water meter
replaced today), I talked to the installer - he said he can come back and
re-seal the meter, no charge...
5) I plan to use a booster cable as a bonding jumper (to prevent me from
possible electrocution). I wouldn't mind placing the electric service
grounding conductor below the plywood cover with the valve if I can...
6) Union on new valve? What do you mean?
The fear is that the soldered fittings can come apart (espec. if
occurs). Flare fittings are usually specd.
Yes, that's right. You should be good, but to drain the piping
(if ever needed) the meter will need to be loosened.
No, I wouldn't trust compression fittings at all here.
One time-worn trick is to stuff the pipe with bread (!).
It soaks up the trickle while you solder and flushes out later.
A hotter torch (MAP or even oxy-acetylene) works wonders too.
Your new valve is permanently attached to the pipe, so it
can't interrupt the grounding path. The meter unions could
interrupt the path if loosened (assumes metal meter) and thus the
meter must have a bonding jumper around it (a permanent jumper,
not just temp jumper cables while you work on it).
Should I use flare fittings? The old valve was soldered on, and the
soldered connections have not leaked, just the valve itself....
I'll use the bread trick if necessary....
So are you saying I can use the booster cables until I can get the permanent
bonding jumper re-installed?
Congratulations. But what would you have done if it *had* leaked? I think
that's why flare fittings are commonly used -- if it leaks, just tighten
the nut. If a soldered joint leaks, you gotta shut the water off again.
I was in a plumbing supply house a couple months ago. They had a gadget at
the counter they were showing someone. A threaded shaft rig with a rubber
that expands. You could put it into the pipe, adn then slip a full flow
(ball or gate) valve over it, and then solder while the expander holds water
It was about twenty bucks, don't know if it works or not.
Some plumbers are reluctant to shut off the city water supply located
outside the house. I had the main valve replaced a couple of years ago and
the plumber arranged for the city to shut off the water. In the process of
doing so, the extension shaft (surface to underground valve) broke off.
Street had to be dug up to get at the valve and to replace the extension
shaft. City trucks, 4-5 guys, Jack hammers, back hoes, hot topping
etc-----Plumber quote "Now you see why I want the city to be the one who
shuts off the outside water".
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