I shut off the main water to repair a toilet, and the shutoff is a 20-year
old green Grinnell 3/4" ball valve. When I put the water back on, I opened
up the ball valve very gradually. I noticed that nut that holds the handle
in place got wet from turning the valve. After the valve was opened all the
way the slight leak at the nut seemed to stop, but it bothers me that it
happened at all. This is the valve immediately after the water meter. The
one before the water meter (same exact valve) had done that once too, so I
leave that one open all the time.
Is it normal for a ball valve to drip as a result of using it and then stop
dripping? If not, then do you recommend I get any work done on the main
shutoff valves if the nuts holding the handle get wet as a result turning
them? Does this mean that usage of the ball valve is deteriorating some
packing in the valve? I had thought ball valves weren't supposed to leak
the way old crank-style valves do. Would tightening the nut that holds
the handle in place stop a leak if it didn't stop on it's own? Without
removing the handle, (which I'm afraid to do) I don't see any other nut
except the nut that holds the handle in place.
If it's too much to tolerate, wrap a towel or a thinner piece of cloth
around the valve, and route the cloth to a bucket.
If that doesn't give you enought time to finish the work you are
doing, you may be able to siphon the water from the bucket to sump or
to a drain in the middle of the basement. You'll have to put the
bucket on a brick or maybe something taller for the siphon to work.
When I did this, I had a leaking pipe at a sink, and the bucket was
pretty high, and I siphoned the water into the toilet.
The siphon speed was self regulating (even though I didn't do anything
to accomplish that, except perhaps accidentally choose the right
height for the bucket.) so that once I started it, it ran for 5 days
with no attention from anyone. When the water in the bucket was high,
the siphon worked faster, and when it was low, it worked slower, so
the siphon never emptied and the bucket never overflowed. Not even
And we continued to use the sink the whole time.
I used fairly large diameter tubing, that we had to buy for chem
class, iirc. I know that for the last 6 inches, I used a large
diameter plastic straw, such as are still used for milk shakes. Its
outside diameter was the same as the tubing's inside diameter.
Ball valves "usually" can't be adjusted and "usually" there is nothing you
can tighten. But just as in a more conventional valve there may be
something you can tighten. You may have to take off the handle using the
obvious nut to see if there is anything you can tighten. If there isn't
anything you can tighten and the leak doesn't stop itself after a few hours
you might was well replace the valve.
Since you have "public" water, you might check NOW to see how you can turn
the water off at the meter.
We own a house on public water and the water company doesn't have any
problem with us using "their" valve. That don't want us to break the wires
for the electronic meter reading but otherwise.... The local "big box"
store sold "Keys" to operate the valve for less than $10. If you have long
arms and strong arms you can operate the valve with an adjustable wrench.
I decided to pay the $10 for a "key."
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