When you drop something down the drain or need to make a pipe repair in your home, the process is easy with the right tools. However, you need the water off to fix anything, and when a shutoff valve just spins, it can spell trouble.
Fortunately, you can fix those busted valves as well. Depending on where your valve is located and what type, you may need slightly different replacement parts, but the process is the same. Whether it’s under your sink, outside where the hose attaches, or other shutoffs, all water valves work the same to stop the unwanted flow.
I’ll show you where to find your valves, the most probable cause of spinning, and how to fix it so you can get back to running water or making other repairs right away.
If your water shut-off valve just Spins, you need to deal with it. If your water shut-off valve does not close and just spins, turn off the water supply. Disconnect the supply lines from the value. Unscrew the valve and replace it. When attaching the new valve, make sure to tighten it well so that once you have turned back on the water. This will prevent leaks.
How to Fix A Broken Water Shutoff Valve That Spins
Before you can replace your shutoff valve that just spins, you first need to determine what type of valve head you are looking at. There are three types of different valves you might encounter. First, a sweat valve is soldered in place and cannot be unscrewed. Second, the compression valve is notable because of a hex nut on the back. Finally, a threaded valve has threads and incorporated hex flats but no separate nut.
Removing your valve head might be as simple as unscrewing it or as complex as sawing it off. While some people prefer a different sawing tool, I find that a jewelers saw with the right head is a simple way to cut through a thin pipe. Nevertheless, the sound will be like that of water dripping inside washer.
When dealing with soft copper, the jewelers’ saw makes a quick and clean job of it with minimal effort. The X-Acto H0869 Adjustable Jeweler’s Saw from Amazon is made to go through metal easily. Twelve included blades mean you can use this tool right out of the package. The blade will cut in any direction, and it’s simple to mount and replace when you need it. Find out more by clicking here.
What Happens When Water Shutoff Valves Won’t Close
A valve that just spins and won’t close isn’t regulating water flow. It may leak, but sometimes the issue is less obvious. Unfortunately, whether you can see the problem or not, it will interfere in plumbing repairs at some point. From replacing a water heater to fixing a leaky toilet, shutoff valves are essential to the safe maintenance of all your household plumbing.
Some valves are more prone to problems than others. The older gate valves can corrode pipes if they’re only partially open. However, for most valves, the real issues don’t start until you need the water off, and then = you have two repairs to make.
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Be Safe Before Starting
Don’t just saw into a pipe! You need to shut off the main water line first. You need a utility company to handle this in some areas, but many homes have a valve at the street and by the meter. You want the one by the meter unless that’s where it’s broken. Please do not forget this step or you could have a huge mess and a lot of damage as well.
If your home is older, then you may have a gate valve. This style has a round handle that needs to be turned multiple times to open or close the pipe and change the water flow.
It’s essential to leave these valves either fully open or completely closed because they are designed to function in only two positions. A partially open gate valve can corrode your pipes over time, leading to even more expensive damage down the road. Newer homes usually sport a ball valve with a lever shaped handle.
According to familyhandyman.com, “… a lever handle needs to be turned 90 degrees to turn the water on or off. You can immediately tell if it’s open or not: In the closed position, the lever is perpendicular to the pipes; in the open position, it’s parallel.” Additionally, when you shut off the water, check your water heater. If it’s gas, set it to the pilot position before turning the water off to the house.
For electric water heaters, you can switch off the circuit breaker to prevent problems.If you need to go out to get parts for your valve, it’s smart to leave the water off to prevent leaking. Turn on the sink on each level of your home to drain the water out of the pipes before you begin. Also, make sure you have towels on hand and put a bucket below whatever valve you plan to work on so you don’t drip water everywhere.
Where are the Valves
Homes can have many valves and finding them all is a challenge if you’re not used to looking. However, it always pays to check your valves when you’re making repairs to one anyhow. Doing this will help you spot problems, and valves that haven’t been serviced, changed, or maintained properly could be hiding in other spots as well. Especially for new homeowners, you should take a look at every valve and test them.
Sinks and toilets are the most obvious place to find water valves, but there are others. For example, washing machine hookups have valves, and so do outdoor hoses along with anything else in your house that runs water through it.
Furthermore, your water heater may have one or two valves. The main house valve is often hidden. It doesn’t simply run right into your meter (that wouldn’t make much sense). Instead, they tend to be hidden nearby. Check crawlspaces and basements for the main valve.
You might get dirty turning these off, and it’s best if you bring a good flashlight. For streetside valves, you need a valve key. These are often inside narrow confines, making it incredibly difficult to turn. Using the “t” shaped valve key will allow you to disable the water flow into your home completely. However, if you turn off at the street, make sure to call the local water company first.
Removing & Replacing Busted Valves
The removal of some spinning valves is simple. You’ll need a wrench and some elbow grease. However, for welded ‘sweat’ valves, or those that are otherwise impossible to loosen, you might have to cut them off. Once you have your valve off, expect some water to come out; hence the bucket and towels are needed. I don’t recommend home pipe welding in small spaces, but threaded valves are simple to unscrew and replace.
Often, you’ll find the disk came off, or the threading inside the valve handle is stripped. Once you disconnect the problematic valve and replace it, close the new valve completely.With a new valve in place, there are just a few steps left. Empty your bucket, and do any cleanup you need from the water trapped inside the pipes. Then re-open your main valve, letting water flow until all the trapped air is out of your plumbing.
Once the sputtering stops, you can turn off those sinks on each level of your home. Test the new valve out, and don’t forget about the water heater, or you’ll be in for a chilling surprise the next time you try to shower or bathe.
Not So Lucky “Fix”
Sometimes the handle to your valve free spins because it has come loose from the threaded gate. If you are fortunate enough to get the stem back in to open or close the gate, don’t just leave it at that. These are still broken and will likely come loose again. You should still replace the valve. Close it completely if you can, and then follow the steps to replace it as soon as possible.
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A spinning water valve is alarming, but it’s relatively simple to fix. Most DIYers can accomplish this task in a day at the most, not including the time it takes to get replacement parts. By following the directions in this article, you’ll have a new water valve in place in no time.
If you water is turning a yellowish color, then read why is my water yellow after installing water softener today.
Keep in mind that your valves should move smoothly when you turn them. Valves should not stick or spin. Overtightening is the main culprit in these issues, though improper installation, rust, or mineral buildup can also cause issues.
If your valve is stuck, you may need to turn the water off to the entire house for a while. Ensure you check your local laws before you mess with the main valve because some areas require you to call your water department for this sort of procedure.