The shut off valve coming into the house is leaking in the basement and like to
replace it with a ball valve. I believe it will be simpler to install and
quicker to shut off in the event of an emergency.
Anyone replace it from the normal screw type to a ball valve?
Secondary question, how do you remove the outside cast iron cover and what tools
require to shut off the main?
Thank you in advance.
Call the utility and ask them to close the curb stop for you;
there is great risk in doing it yourself as things tend to break.
Inside, you will need to break the piping apart, easy if the
meter union is right there. You may need the utility to reseal
the meter. Again, ask them.
I did try to open the cast iron cover on my front yard to peep inside before I
buy the stuff I need, but it wouldn't budge. Look like it had a knob to turn or
Do I really need to call the utility company just to turn off the water main?
Do you absolutely, positively "have to?"
It's a VERY good idea. First, they might get upset if they catch our
fooling around their meter. Second, (as another poster noted), if
something "goes wrong," someone else will likely pay for it.
Frankly, this is one area where it would pay you to pay a professional
plumber to handle the whole thing. With a good shut off valve you can do
almost any plumbing in your house without risk.
Let me tell you a story..
Shortly after we moved into the house, our eight years old plus, 40 gal water
heater failed to remain lighted. I paid the plumber $80, 15 minutes to replaced
the thermostat. A few days later it again failed to remain lighted. Hmm... I
figured it will cost another $100 plus for the plumber to fixed the same problem
and there is there is no guarantee it will be trouble free.
I decided to replace it with a 10-year warranty US Craftmaster heater for $125.
I also bought copper pipes, pipe cutter, solder, two flexible PTFE hoses (high
temps stainless steel braided hose), a ball valve and precise length black gas
pipes. I took all safety precautions, checked and rechecked everything, then
spend a few hours to replaced the water heater, I am basically underweight.
I am NOT saying I know everything, but I will try to DIY. Everyone knows it cost
you an arm or leg if you call a plumber or electrician. I have experienced in
silver solder extreme pressure (10,000 psi high impulse) hydraulic hoses
My only problems, will the Midwest freezing temp in winter affect the ball valve
and how to turn on the gate valve outside the house.
Anyway I do appreciate your concern and I will certainly let the City take care
of the valve outside the house.
Thanks again. :-)
I do not question you ability to put in a simple valve but the "pro" usually
has a truck load of "stuff" so that if something breaks he just runs out to
the truck. If you are changing the main valve you might have to leave your
water off overnight.
Second, it's a good idea to at least "guage" the plumbers just to see how
much things might cost in the future if you have to call someone if.
Great to be able to do everything yourself. But as soon as you mention
*Gas* you're in a "big risk, little reward" situation in my opinion.
Liability is the word--do you think that your insurance company will pay for
a home replacement if they investigate and find out that it was a home, DIY,
unlicensed installation that caused the gas leak and Kabooom that followed.
Even though it hurts to pay for something that you can handle on your own,
is the risk worth it?
Probably depends on where you live. What does the cover look like?
and how wide? if there is a meter inside then they take it off
freguently to read the meter. Often the bolt (actually a screw) that
holds the lid on is five sided but a crescent type wrench will open it
anyway. Maybe you are turning it the wrong direction. Try tapping
all around with a ball peen hammer.
Jim B wrote:
Where is it leaking? Does it just need packing? I tolerated a
drip for 15 year until it rotted the iron gate valve handle. When
I went to the hardware to buy a new valve, the guy asked why I didn't
just buy a handle & some packing.
Duh---- less than $5 & twenty minutes later I have a leak-free valve
with a new handle.
Don't try to shut off the outside (city) shut off valve.let the city do it..
I recently had to replace my inside shutoff valve and when the city workers
tried to shut off the water to the house the long connecting rod (surface to
valve) broke due to years of non use and rust. Result was the street had to
be dig up to get at the valve, the rod replaced and then the top repaved.
Plumber replaced old gate valve with a ball valve and the cost was
reasonable and worth it. My plumber refused to shut off the outside water
supply because "sometimes bad things happen". I guess he knew what he was
Jim B -
I can't help with the outside cast iron cover. I've never seen anything
meeting the description. In Los Angeles, we generally have cement meter
boxes by the curb with covers that simply lift out. The curb stop is turned
by a very large T-wrench about 4 feet long that has a two-sided socket which
engages the small rectangular handle - a good hardware shop or commercial
plumbing supply item. They're a useful tool to own in earthquake country.
However, as other posters have observed, the stop is utility property here
and, I imagine, elsewhere as well. If it's frozen, don't try to force it,
call them. They'll probably do the same thing in your area they do here,
which is to send out a crew to disassemble/lubricate/repair or replace the
valve (which may have not been operated for a long time). Once that's done
and you have the correct tool, you can operate it yourself.
As far as ball valves go. I replumbed my house 15 years ago and installed
nylon-seat/stainless-ball copper sweat type valves for the main and all
others. Very satisfactory improvement. They operate easily and have no
packings to leak. You need to be proficient at sweat-soldering to install
them without frying the nylon seat. Unlike traditional valves, you can't
remove the non-metal parts for soldering. (You shouldn't have to do this,
but it's safer if you're prone to over-heating the fitting).
I'm also very impressed with the ball-valve version of supply stops that have
become available about 10 years ago. I know various posters have said they
or their plumbers are hesitant to use them, but I've had no problems. They
don't freeze or stick and have no packings to leak. Of course, we don't know
how they'll hold up in 40 years, but so far so good.
I've noticed these "No-Sweat" ball valves that I believe have a union
on each end. You just slide a nut onto the end of the pipe and then
solder a hub on, so you can't overheat the valve itself. Would one of
these be suitable for a house main shutoff valve?
My main shutoff was an ancient and too-small globe valve, and when it
sprang a fast leak in winter while the street valve was unaccessable, I
hired a plumber to replace it with a ball valve. He froze the pipe with
a portable pipe freezer and replaced it. While he was here and I was
paying for an hour service call, I had him snake a slow floor drain and
a few other quick plumbing repairs I had been putting off. I think it
cost a little over $100 including the freeze-machine rental. It was
well worth it, mostly for his bonding and insurance if something had
gone wrong with that main valve.
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