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Thread: Help: Replace Main Shut Off Valve

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member cwc's Avatar
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    Default Help: Replace Main Shut Off Valve

    Hi:

    I need to replace the main water supply shut off valve because the existing valve passes water and leaks. The valve is located in the basement directly downstream of the water meter, as shown in attached a photos. The City will turn off water to my house so I can work on the valve.

    I want to replace the existing valve with a new ball valve and have some concerns / questions:

    1. The face to face dimensions of the existing valve is 2-1/4 inches? I found a threaded ball valve with face to face dimension of 2-5/16 inches. Will the new ball valve work in the space or will the 1/16 inch difference cause problems when I try to reassemble the piping? For example, will I need a shorter piece of pipe between the valve and the meter?

    2. There's tamper proof copper wire on the bolt immediately upstream of the valve. Is is okay to cut this wire or is it a code violation?

    3. I'm assuming the bolt connection at the meter is a compression joint. Possibly flared end. What do you think? Do you think this joint will reseal after being taken apart and put back together with the same pipe?

    4. Do I need to use any thread compound (pipe dope) at the joints. Any brand names I should try?

    5. Would it be better to cut out the existing valve, the downstream elbow, and the threaded portion of the upstream pipe and replace with new copper pipe and valve. In this case I would have to use sweat joints. The pipe between the valve and the meter could be brass so I'm not sure a sweat joint will work?

    I would appreciate any advice or suggestions you have.
    Thanks for your help.
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  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    The connection to the meter appears to be a compression fitting, but it could be a union. Have the meter shut off, then relieve the pressure in the line either by opening a faucet or with the stop and waste on the old valve. Disconnect the compression nut or union. Remove the old valve at the elbow. If there isn't enough slack to unscrew it, you can unsolder the elbow. I'd avoid that is possible, but if necessary just be sure all of the water is drained from the pipe or the solder won't get hot enough to melt. Once you have the area cleared out, you would reassemble everything with a new 1/4 turn ball valve. I would not worry about a stop and waste, that's just to relieve pressure and that can be easily done at a faucet. The length of the nipple between the valve and meter will likely have to be adjusted, depending on the difference in valve lengths. If the connection is a compression fitting, the adjustment would be quite simple. Ball valves can be connected in several ways. One way is to sweat them, others screw on. I don't know about the small copper wires that appear to be connected to the compression nut. Perhaps one of the pros on the forum will clarify them.

  3. #3
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    The meter nut has a rubber gasket. If you talk to the water company service tech I'm sure they will give you a new one. Also tell them you have to remove the copper wire on the meter nut. If they won't give you a meter washer then go to a plumbing supply and ask for a 5/8" meter spud washer.

    John

  4. #4
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Thanks for clarifying the meter connection. I hope cwc comes back to the forum. Seems like a lot of first timers ask a question, answers are posted, be they never seem to come back.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The wires may be part of a seal to verify that you didn't remove the meter and substitute a straight pipe, bypassing it (i.e., stealing the water). You want to tell the water company what's going on if you need to break that, or it could get ugly.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member BenWara's Avatar
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    what all did you talk about with the water company? I may be wrong but that looks like it is before the meter. I know with the electric company everything before the meter is their problem (unless you do something dumb). I'd see what they can do for you before you go to any trouble you don't have to. I'm curious let me know.

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The copper wire is security device so the city can tell if someone might have been removing the meter between readings to "steal" water. here, cutting that wire is a $10,000.00 fine, because they could not tell WHEN, or WHY you did it, and assume the worst. The meter is connected with a "meter coupling" and there is only ONE length, so you CANNOT insert a shorter piece between the valve and the meter, and change will have to occur after the meter. The meter coupling is flanged with a rubber washer between its face and the meter. There is NO way to convert the section between the valve and meter to copper and make it a SHORTER distance. It is as short as possible already.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member cwc's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice. I'll pick up some supplies and replace the valve next week. I'll report back with some photos for all the other DIYers out there.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member BenWara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwc View Post
    Thanks for all the advice. I'll pick up some supplies and replace the valve next week. I'll report back with some photos for all the other DIYers out there.
    the water company says you have to replace it?!?! is the valve before the meter?

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member cwc's Avatar
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    @benWara:

    The valve is downstream of the meter. Homeowners responsibility.

    The City's valve is a curb stop on the street.

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; The valve is downstream of the meter. Homeowners responsibility.

    You can tell by the orientation of the "drain port" that the valve is ahead of the meter. Here it would be the utility's responsibility to change it, but different areas have different standards/requirements.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member cwc's Avatar
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    Hi:

    The valve is definitely downstream of the meter. I'm not sure why the drain port is on the upstream side of the valve. Perhaps the drain port is to drain the line between the curb stop and the valve in the house.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member cwc's Avatar
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    @HJ:

    My mistake. The valve is downstream of the meter. Please disregard my previous post.

    Thanks for clarifying things for me.

    CWC

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