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Thread: broken handle on main shutoff

  1. #1
    DIY Member johnny-canuck's Avatar
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    Default broken handle on main shutoff

    Iím fussing with what to do with the main shutoff valve at my daughterís house. I want to do some work in her laundry area and so I need to shutoff the water while Iím working. The problem is that the handle on the main shutoff is broken, but my daughter says that the valve itself is functional, because she said she managed to close it relatively recently by using a wrench on it in lieu of itís original working handle.

    Iím attaching 3 photos. Unfortunately the quality of the shots is poor, but Iím hoping someone might still be able to recognize the valve. I havenít spotted anything like it at Home Depot to understand how it operates and most importantly see how the handle attaches.

    Does anyone recognize the valve? Do you think I can locate a replacement handle and simply replace it?

    Assuming Iím gentle, will trying to remove the handle likely result in me damaging the actual valve?

    If simply replacing the handle is a reasonable possibility, am I correct in thinking that I donít need to have the city shut the water at the street, just to replace the handle?

    Because the photos are poor, it seems to me like there are 3 distinct pieces at the top of the valve
    1) a circular ring that has a stub of metal sticking up from it (... maybe whatís left of the old handle? ... maybe part of the actual valve casting?)
    2) a 6 sided nut
    3) then finally some sort of top piece that I canít decide what it is/does (... is it another nut?)

    Any thoughts would be very much appreciated. Thanks.Name:  IMG_0852.jpg
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  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I would opt for a new valve. Get a 1/4 turn ball valve. You'll have to turn the water off at the street. When I had to replace my shut off valve, the meter valve would not 100% stop the water, so I had to find a way to keep the joint area dry to solder. I opened the valve and made a swab of an old towel and clothes hanger. I threaded the swab through the valve and into the pipe. This blocked the water and prevented the steam from getting to the joint while I soldered. After the soldering was finished, I just pulled the swab out and finished the job.

  3. #3
    DIY Member johnny-canuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    I would opt for a new valve. Get a 1/4 turn ball valve. You'll have to turn the water off at the street. When I had to replace my shut off valve, the meter valve would not 100% stop the water, so I had to find a way to keep the joint area dry to solder. I opened the valve and made a swab of an old towel and clothes hanger. I threaded the swab through the valve and into the pipe. This blocked the water and prevented the steam from getting to the joint while I soldered. After the soldering was finished, I just pulled the swab out and finished the job.
    Thanks for the input. I don't doubt that the best solution is what you're suggesting (but since I'm just a "diy-er" I don't want to fuss with something this involved / critical, so in my case it means having a plumber come in a do a proper replacement of the valve. In any of my previous "diy" plumbing work, it has never ceased to amaze me at how long, involved and aggravating even a "simple" change is). I'm kind of hoping that I can just replace the handle as a "simple" and short term "fix" to let me do the work I want to do ... interim to fixing it properly.

    Worst comes to worse, I can just roll the dice a second time and use a wrench to close the shutoff.

  4. #4
    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    First thing you should do is look aroung and see if you can find the original handle, it looks like someone took it off for some reason.

    >>>Assuming I’m gentle, will trying to remove the handle likely result in me damaging the actual valve?<<<

    I don't think so.

    >>>If simply replacing the handle is a reasonable possibility, am I correct in thinking that I don’t need to have the city shut the water at the street, just to replace the handle?<<<

    Yes

    >>>1) a circular ring that has a stub of metal sticking up from it (... maybe what’s left of the old handle? ... maybe part of the actual valve casting?)<<<

    That is the handle stop to keep it from going round and round

    >>>2) a 6 sided nut<<<

    Thats what held the handle on

    >>>3) then finally some sort of top piece that I can’t decide what it is/does (... is it another nut?)<<<

    Could be, it look like your valve has two nuts, a lot only have one

    What you have to do is take the top nut off, you will need to hold back on the handle stop and use two pair of pliers, that nut should be a self locker so it will take a little effort to get it loose, the handle stop will then come off, do not lose either piece.

    Once you get them off you should see a threaded shaft comming out of the valve, it will not be round, it will be more like an elongated rectangle, if you turn that shft crossways to the pipe the valve will be off, if you turn it longways the valve will be open.

    I'm enclosing a picture of a handle, you should be able to see the shape of the hole.

    Finding a handle that fits that valve may be a prob. you may have to buy a valve just to get the handle (they are not all the same)




    P.S after looking at you pictures again DO NOT TOUCH THE LOWER NUT ON THE VALVE, THATS A PACKING NUT!!
    Last edited by shacko; 11-28-2010 at 02:57 PM.

  5. #5
    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    Gary Swart:

    That is a 1/4 turn ball valve!

  6. #6
    DIY Member johnny-canuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shacko View Post
    First thing you should do is look aroung and see if you can find the original handle, it looks like someone took it off for some reason.

    >>>Assuming I’m gentle, will trying to remove the handle likely result in me damaging the actual valve?<<<

    I don't think so.

    >>>If simply replacing the handle is a reasonable possibility, am I correct in thinking that I don’t need to have the city shut the water at the street, just to replace the handle?<<<

    Yes

    >>>1) a circular ring that has a stub of metal sticking up from it (... maybe what’s left of the old handle? ... maybe part of the actual valve casting?)<<<

    That is the handle stop to keep it from going round and round

    >>>2) a 6 sided nut<<<

    Thats what held the handle on

    >>>3) then finally some sort of top piece that I can’t decide what it is/does (... is it another nut?)<<<

    Could be, it look like your valve has two nuts, a lot only have one

    What you have to do is take the top nut off, you will need to hold back on the handle stop and use two pair of pliers, that nut should be a self locker so it will take a little effort to get it loose, the handle stop will then come off, do not lose either piece.

    Once you get them off you should see a threaded shaft comming out of the valve, it will not be round, it will be more like an elongated rectangle, if you turn that shft crossways to the pipe the valve will be off, if you turn it longways the valve will be open.

    I'm enclosing a picture of a handle, you should be able to see the shape of the hole.

    Finding a handle that fits that valve may be a prob. you may have to buy a valve just to get the handle (they are not all the same)




    P.S after looking at you pictures again DO NOT TOUCH THE LOWER NUT ON THE VALVE, THATS A PACKING NUT!!
    Hey Shacko ... you've given me exactly the kind of info that I was hoping I'd get as a "diy-er". Now I can decide between the "risk" that's involved with me trying to do it myself ... or just using a pair or pliers a second time, interim to replacing the valve that obviously has seen better days.

    Thanks very much!

  7. #7
    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    If you do what I recommended you shouldn't have a prob., once you get the upper nut off it will be clear, you sholdn't have to replace the valve, even without the handle you can always turn the water on or off with an adjustible wrench

  8. #8
    DIY Member johnny-canuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shacko View Post
    Gary Swart:

    That is a 1/4 turn ball valve!
    So Shako ... adding this response to your full explanation, I take it that I'm looking for a handle (looking similar to the image you provided) for a "1/4 turn ball valve" (the type of valve it looks like I'm dealing with). One of my photos looks like it might have a brand / logo ... so if I look more closely, I may know exactly what kind of handle (or complete valve to get it's handle) that I'm looking for. Thanks again.

  9. #9
    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    Did you look for the handle? it's common practice for someone to take them off if there is any kind of interference, they usually leave them near the valve.

  10. #10
    DIY Member johnny-canuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shacko View Post
    Did you look for the handle? it's common practice for someone to take them off if there is any kind of interference, they usually leave them near the valve.
    There's no evidence of the original lever style handle. I can't imagine what might have made someone want to take it off, at some point in distant history. It is in a spot where in might have intruded more into the actual living space when it was "open", but I'd still question the reasoning of someone that would want to defeat the purpose of a main shutoff valve ... but that appears to be what's happened. As I said previously ... thanks very much for your thoughts! I now know what I'm dealing with.

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Guess I assumed you could sweat copper joints. Sorry.

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    IF you can find a handle for that size Ohio valve, AND the handle nut will come off the valve, then you can just put the new handle on. BUT, one problem may be unscrewing that corroded nut, since there is nothing to prevent the valve's ball from turning when you try to remove the nut, and there is no way to hold the "bolt" while trying to remove the nut. A "nut buster" would remove the nut, if you have one, and then "any handle" that had the right size and shape hole in it could be used.

  13. #13
    DIY Member johnny-canuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    IF you can find a handle for that size Ohio valve, AND the handle nut will come off the valve, then you can just put the new handle on. BUT, one problem may be unscrewing that corroded nut, since there is nothing to prevent the valve's ball from turning when you try to remove the nut, and there is no way to hold the "bolt" while trying to remove the nut. A "nut buster" would remove the nut, if you have one, and then "any handle" that had the right size and shape hole in it could be used.
    Ah - you've added a fly to the ointment :-) Thanks for the additional input. The top nut is so corroded that it's not particularly obvious that it even is a nut, but it logically must be. I'm now leaning more to the "use a pair of pliers as a handle" approach ... interim to the more involved approach of getting the city to shut the water + completely replace the valve.

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