The water shutoff valve just before the meter in my basement has begun
to leak. Probably about a gallon a week, judging from the amount in the
bucket I put below the valve. Simple enough problem I would likely
handle myself, except for shutting the water off at the curb. I've seen
them do this with a neighborhood deadbeat (apparently behind on their
bill), they use a wrench about 4 feet long which I don't possess.
Anyway, before I pay a plumber, it did occur to me that since this is
BEFORE the meter, perhaps it's the city water dept's problem. Anyone know?
It's pretty universal that the city/county is responsible up to and
including the meter at the curb. Anything past the meter is your
You can get the water meter shutoff wrench at Lowe's/Home Depot for a
Thanks for the replies. The thing with this setup is the meter & valve
are INSIDE the basement (there is a main shutoff under a cover in the
front sidewalk down by the curb). Just the same, I have to think if the
METER which is AFTER this valve fails, it would not be my problem. The
valve began leaking after I shut the water off a couple times due to
going out of town for several weeks in the cold weather. It appears to
be leaking at the packing around the valve stem, easy to fix were it not
for the WATER being on ;-) I think I'll see if it calcifies & stops
leaking after a bit, as it has in the past. Mean time I'll call the
city, but wanted to get an idea of how this usually goes befire I do.
I've seen short wrenches for the outside valve at hardware stores. I
bent one 180 degrees one time trying to shut off the water at my inlaws
house in LA, but there the valve was only inches beneath the cover; here
it's a good 2-3 feet. I can just imagine what condition the thing is
in, having never been shut off for the 40 years my family has owned this
Don't be tempted to shut off the curb water yourself. My shutoff valve also
leaked and I replaced it with a ball valve. My plumber refused to shut off
the outside water "too many bad tings happen". When the city shut off the
water the shaft extension (from ground to the valve underground) broke in
half. Result was that they had to tear up the street to get at the valve,
install a new shaft extension, fill the hole and re-hot top the street.
Plumber made the right decision.
Yeah, I don't think I'll attempt it. As I said the one time I did try
it (another house) the wrench bent & the valve didn't budge. I'll try
snugging down the nut on the valve stem, then go from there.
About ten years ago the water main was replaced on my street. The main gate
(shut off valve) just before the meter begin to leak. Called a plumber, then
called the town to shut the water off. Plumber arrived, changed the valve
($100), then called the town to turn the water back on. The water was off
for about two hours.
Once the water was on all sorts of crap came through the pipes, metal chips,
grease, real nasty stuff. I put a whole house filter on for about $30 and
every thing has been fine since..
If the valve is installed properly when you close it there is no
pressure at the packing nut. You can at this point unscrew the nut and
wrap a few strands of packing around the shaft, tighten the nut, open
the valve and continue living your life.
I didn't think about this, I see what you're saying (stem screws down in
body of the valve so will be held in place there with water off even
though nut is removed) and I'm guessing you're correct, but I'm a bit
leery to attempt this without being absolutely certain before hand I'm
not going to get a geyser, with no easy/quick way of shutting it off
(per the previous comments re the likely condition of the curb valve,
lack of a wrench, etc.) Is this the universal design (no possibility
stem, handle and all are going to come off with the nut)? Valve is
about 50 years old. I guess I can easily shut the water off, then
loosen the nut slowly to see what happens.
Sure like the "continue living my life part", lol.
Well, I went down & shut off the valve, then backed off the nut
slightly. Began to leak more, so I opened a nearby faucet to remove
pressure on the outlet side & the leaking stopped. I slacked off the
nut about half way; no leaking, so it seems I may be able to repack the
valve w/o shutting off the outside water control. I'll go to the hdwr
store & see what they have for this before proceeding further. Plus I'm
having to soak the screw that retains the valve handle in penetrating
oil to get it out w/o risking breaking it off. Ironically, after all
this when I reopened the valve, the leak has substantially quit.
No doubt not for long, however.
When it comes to plumbing, I'd rather do electrical ;-)
Let me toss in a question:
There's bound to be an existing packing (which is, of course, worn or
deteriorated). There's too much volume under the nut to fill completely
with the teflon thread / string, so the idea is to add a few wraps to
seal. Would those wraps be added between the existing packing and the
nut? Or under the packing?
I've tried to purchase replacement packing before, and maybe there's a
variety available to pros, but the folks at the hardware store just
shrug and hand me the teflon string.
(Stem leaks have been a consistent curse at this 65-year-old house...).
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