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Thread: house main shutoff

  1. #1

    Default house main shutoff

    The main shutoff on my house needs to be replaced. It is an old gate valve. Under code can I replace it with a ball valve or is it rrequired to be a full-bore gate valve? Thanks as always.

  2. #2
    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    I don't know of any code that requires a gate valve on you main shut off, I would replace it with a full port ball valve.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Gate valves may still have a place in the world, but for your main house shut off, a 1/4 turn ball valve is the only sensible way to go.

  4. #4

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    Thanks very much. It pained me to think of having another gate valve because code required it.

  5. #5

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    I have a plumber coming in to replace my main valve- it drips. Will he have to shut water off at the street, or is there a special trick or tool they use to shut off water while replacing that?

  6. #6
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    The water will be turned off at the street, probably by the city. Your plumber will know local rules, but generally, the meter and everything before the meter is the responsibility of the city. After the meter it is the homeowner's property. Usually the city prohibits homeowners from turning off the city's valve. Once the water if off, it will take only minutes to install the valve.

  7. #7

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    That's what I figured. Does the municipality usually charge the homeowner to shut off the water?

  8. #8
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I don't think they do, but I'm sure if there is a fee, it will be quite small.

  9. #9

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    Plumber was in and done in about 1 minute. Just had to "pack" the valve. ? I don't know what that means, but he was quick and no more drips. And he didn't even need to shut the water off.

  10. #10
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Gate valves use a material called packing to seal them. You still have your old gate valve. You did save a few dollars.

  11. #11

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    Is a gate valve a bad thing? I don't understand the terminology.

  12. #12
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I wouldn't call them "bad valves", but ball valves do have some advantages. A gate valve has a sliding gate inside that has to be screwed up or down by numerous twists of the handle. A ball valve had a ball that opens or closes with 1/4 turn of the handle. These are as close to open/close with nothing in between as you can get. This is very desirable when you need a valve to be either fully open or fully closed. Ball valves tend to last much longer with problems. Your gate valve has done the job and will continue to do so.

  13. #13
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    if you had to have someone tighten the packing nut, then you saved the cost of the new valve, but spent a lot of money needlessly. A gate valve has a "wedge" and a "screw thread" inside it. The wedge can jam when it is turned off, and if the screw has been weakened by exposure to the water, it may break when you try to open the valve. In that case, you will not have any water until it is repaired or replaced. IF the screw becomes corroded with the valve in the open position, it could break when you try to turn the water off. That will mean you still have water in the house but cannot turn it off in case of an emergency. Ball valves do not have these two problems, but occassionally "jam" in the open, closed, or in between locations.

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