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Thread: Ball valve stem leak

  1. #1
    DIY Member jwray's Avatar
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    Default Ball valve stem leak

    I installed a 3/4" sweat ball valve as part of my plumbing project. After turning the water on there were no leaks for at least several hours.

    Now there is a very slow leak (drip) around the stem on the valve. It looks like there is a male threaded insert with hex flats below the valve handle which I could access by removing the nut holding the handle in place.

    Can I remove the valve handle and tighten this insert to stop the leak? (similar to tightening the packing nut on a gate valve)

    If the valve is bad I'm in a pickle because I don't have much room to work with if I have to remove it and sweat in a new one.

    Thanks,

    Joel

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default

    Yes you can.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default leak

    Yes, and it is a common enough problem that I wish the manufacturer would make a thin open end wrench that would tighten it without removing the handle.

  4. #4
    DIY Member jwray's Avatar
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    Default Sigh of relief

    Thanks for the info. I am breathing a big sigh of relief that there will be an easy fix. I'll do it tonight.

    The thin wrench would be nice. Maybe some QC too. This is a brand new Hammond 600psi valve from a plumbing supply house (not some cheapy from a big box or discount store). I guess it could get jarred loose in shipping, but I kind of expect the thing not to leak when it is fresh out of the box new.

    Sounds like I may be too hard on them if this is a common problem though.

    Thanks again for the help.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member jsadik's Avatar
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    Default Ball valve stem leak

    I'm a DIY'er with moderate plumbing experience.

    I replaced a leakey shutoff gate valve with a ball valve from Lowes. Once I sweat on the new valve I found it to be leaking from the stem. I removed it tonight and installed a new valve, same brand, American Valve from Lowes, and it's also leaking from the stem.

    I've sweat soldered ball valves in the past (other brands) without any problems. Is it possible that I'm responsible for this failure somehow, or are these cheaply made, defective parts?

    Is there anyway to fix this, like possibly tightening the nut under the handle, or must the valve be replaced?

    Thanks...

  6. #6
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    Default ***warning***

    Those are the cheapest ball valves made. They have the greatest profit margins for the seller as well.

    Take it out and put in a NIBCO or Watts. If there is a packing nut under the handle, tighten it to see if that stops the leaking.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member jsadik's Avatar
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    I removed the handle and tightened the nut and that seems to have fixed the leak. Given the "cheapness" factor, should I still worry about this valve or should I leave well enough alone since it's functioning properly now?

  8. #8
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Default

    RUGGED fergot "Apollo" valves...my personal favorite, Watts 'er good too.
    As for the packing nut you tightened..it's good...for now.
    In time you'll see it drip again...I'll second what Rugged said...HD and Lowes carry the cheapest of the cheap.
    why not?...most homeowners don't know that.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  9. #9
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    I'd leave well enough alone. There's actually a valve worse than american, it's B&K with the super thin brass socket ball valves.

    They are red handled and give it 3 years after they've been installed, they will start cancering out on the outside of the valves.

    Legend makes a good valve, along with hammond. I tried my luck at some proplus valves recently and the brass of the ball valve is solid, but the threaded stud of the ball valve is fragile and if you overtighten too much, it strips the threads out too easily.

    When I run out *4 left* I'll be ordering 100 NIBCO's.


    And yes, Apollo is a good one but hard to find in my area.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member jsadik's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RUGGED
    I'd leave well enough alone. There's actually a valve worse than american, it's B&K with the super thin brass socket ball valves.
    That's scary...all the other ball valves in my home are B&K.

    Thanks for the advice on the packing nut.

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default leak

    The purpose of the packing nut is to stop leaks at the stem. Some companies send them with the packing loose and expect the plumber to tighten it.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member rmontyw's Avatar
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    Default HELP! How do I actually adjust this stem in the ball valve to stop the leak

    I found this forum by searching for leaking ball valve. I"m desperate to fix this valve instead of replacing it if possible. I just spent a long time soldering the joints all around it and add the fact that it is my main shut off for my house now I would have to call the city to turn the water off again to do the work over.

    So if this stem behind the handle on the valve is indeed adjustable and could be the solution to this leak can someone please help me figure out how to actually adjust it. It may seem obvious to most but not me. All my channel lock pliers are too big to get in behind the actual handle.

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  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Take the nut off, then the handle will slide off, then you'll have access. Use a wrench (preferably) rather than pliers.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  14. #14
    Janitorial Technician nestork's Avatar
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    Default

    Rmontyw:

    Further to what Jadnashua said:

    1. Hold the handle steady as you unscrew the locknut holding the handle on. Otherwise the handle may turn with the wrench.

    2. Only tighten the packing nut under the handle enough so that you can open and close the valve without it leaking. Tightening it more than that simply causes the packing material to wear down faster than necessary.

    3. The ball valve handle will look something like this:



    Note that the hole in the handle for the ball valve stem isn't round, but a slot. The end of the ball valve's stem will be the same shape, and that can make it easy to misthread the lock nut when putting the handle back on.

    (If you have trouble getting the lock nut back on and you do end up screwing up the thread on the end of the stem, don't sweat it. Just hang the handle to the water supply pipe near that valve with a piece of wire or something and use the handle to open and close the valve when necessary.)

    4. The valve is open when the handle is parallel to the pipe and closed when the handle is perpendicular to the pipe.

    5. Always ensure ball valves are OPEN when soldering them in, and give them plenty of time to cool down before operating the valve.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default

    quote; Always ensure ball valves are OPEN when soldering them

    Actually, on a 45, halfway open is better, because some valves have water inside from testing and the heat of soldering can turn it to steam and "blow" out the seals. Halfway open lets pressure escape from both sides of the seals.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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