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Thread: Main water valve replacement

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member darmstro's Avatar
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    Default Main water valve replacement

    O Great Plumbing Sages:

    The main water valve for my 100 year-old-house is leaking. It leaks from the top of the value around the stem. The valve is connected to galvanized pipe on both the street-side and meter-side of the valve (the valve is on the street-side of the meter). A local plumber inspected the valve and has told me that he would not repair it because replacing the packing may not stop the leaking due to the age of the valve (which we believe is at least 40 years old). He also told me that he would not replace the valve because the street-side connection is galvanized pipe and he's concerned that he may not be able to remove the valve without breaking the pipe or without damaging the existing pipe threads. And, there isn't enough room between the floor and the bottom of the valve to re-thread the pipe. So, his recommendation is to replace the entire line between the house and the B-box at a cost of about $1400. Is his recommendation the best approach??? Are there any other options that could be lower cost???

  2. #2
    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    If the valve is leaking from the packing gland.
    You could try tightening the packing gland, just see if you can snug it up.

    First a question though if the valve is on the street side of the water meter, then should not that valve belong to the city? If that is the case then they would fix it for free. Give them a call and ask, the worst they can do is say no.
    Michael

  3. #3
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    In my area ( S. Calif) the meter is in a box on the sidewalk, and everything up to the meter is city. But I understand in 'cold country' the meter may be in the basement, but the HO is responsible for the line in from the street.

  4. #4
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    He's looked at the plumbing and assessed it as being in doubtful condition where success of changing the valve was unlikely.

    I frequently see the same thing and sell the job the same way. It is the safe thing to do.

    If he was to sell the job as just replacing the valve he may get lucky and pull it off or, it may break off and not work as he believes it will. The problem being that when the water is shut off at the curb box it is not going back on until the job is completed one way or another. Switching from just changing out a valve to line replacement will cost a minimum of a day just to get the Dig Safe, permits, equipment lined up, and maybe more. You won't like him anymore when that happens.

    Replacing the old galvanized line eliminates any variables that that will inconvenience you and ensures the job goes as planned.

  5. #5
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I agree with the previous answers that replacement is the best thing to do, but there's no way for us to tell if that job can be done for less. Local labor costs, depth of the pipe, and type of soil are just some of the variable that will affect the cost. You could shop around, but my guess is, the prices will be reasonably close.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Depending on the size of the pipe and the water conditions and its age, the supply line could be the effective size of a soda straw! Galvanized eventually, rusts out from the inside (and sometimes from the outside as well). So, replacing it at some point is likely to improve your water flow. As said, try snugging up the packing nut, and if that buys you some leak-free time, use that to plan for a main line replacement.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member darmstro's Avatar
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    I think this plumber is definitely playing it safe. . . and I'm not certain I wouldn't do the same if I were in his shoes.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member darmstro's Avatar
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    In the City of Hammond, Indiana, the HO is responsible for the waterline from the meter to the B-Box.

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