I live in a flat built around 1930 (ie probably quite old pipework).
There is a communal cold-water tank in the roof, but the shutoff valve
in my flat doesn't want to turn.
I've already called one plumber out who refused to touch it unless the
tank in the roof was drained (which would be a nightmare to organise).
Clearly I don't want to break the pipework and empty all the water out
into the flats below me! I suspect he just didn't want to do the work
(and assume the risk), rather than it not being possible.
Any tips or techniques for loosening/un-seizing the copper tap on the
valve? The pipework looks in good order (although it's probably rather
old), but I want to be as careful as I can be. As an alternative, a
friend suggested freezing the pipe just above the valve, but I don't
know how viable that is.
Thanks in advance,
Quite right, supposing the valve broke open and your flat were flooded?
You would be expecting him to perhaps pay for the damage.
Freezing would be fine assuming you could guarantee that the job could
be done before it defrosts, I don't think you can.
Put a piece of wood across the top of the tank and tie the ball valve
up securely with a bit of string. Then drain all the water from the
tank. You should be able to drain it by simply running all of the water
off, if not syphon it off with a garden hose. Now you can try to free
the valve safe in the knowledge that breakage will not flood your flat
and any flats below you.
How many flats does it serve?
Do your flats not have maintenance contracts for this kind of thing?
I wouldn't touch it with the risk of it going horribly wrong; screwing up
your own home is bad enough but getting insurance claims from x others
sounds like an avoidable nightmare.
Yes, I don't blame the guy - in fact I'm glad he refused to do it if
he's not happy it can be done safely without draining the tank. There
are 6 flats serviced by the tank in the roof (2 of which are directly
I've spoken to the freehold owners, who said that they weren't willing
to have the tank drained so that the work can be done - they also told
me to get the pipes frozen above the valve. I'm battling with them at
the moment, but it's a slow process and in the meantime if any
problems were to occur with my plumbing it'd be a big problem.
I was just after a few (relatively safe) tips to free the valve so
that I can avoid a lot of hassle if possible. Maybe some WD40 and a
few light taps with a hammer might work.....If all else fails I'll
just contact the people in the other 6 flats and try and arrange a day
that I can drain the tank. Thanks for the tip about how to empty the
| I live in a flat built around 1930 (ie probably quite old
| There is a communal cold-water tank in the roof, but the
| shutoff valve in my flat doesn't want to turn.
| I've already called one plumber out who refused to touch it
| unless the tank in the roof was drained (which would be a
| nightmare to organise).
Do you have individual outlets from the tank to each flat?
If so you might be able to use a plastic bung on the outlet for your flat
and avoid inconveniencing anyone else.
A bung and freezing should stop the water enough to saw through the pipe and
whack on a compression stopcock without flooding.
But I'd check your insurance covers you against d-i-y flooding downstairs
just in case the worst happens :-)
 Google this group for central heating carrot potato and you will
probably find a link to a kit to use when removing a radiator without
draining down the circuit - in olden days a carrot was used on the tank
outlet and a potato wedged over the vent pipe.
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