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  • Writer's pictureTeena

Need a Water Shut-Off Valve? You Absolutely Do!


PVC valve
Shut-Off Valve for DIY Plumbing Projects

Listen, DIY home maintenance can be a learning curve and if you have ever owned a home then you know how helpful it is to learn your way around some basic maintenance skills. This also applies to plumbing!


Your home was a large investment. Like all investments, it's important to keep your investment safe, well functioning, and to make it worth more than when you slapped your money down on the table. It might even be your families most important investment because you plan on passing your home onto your children. That means it's well worth your time and care.


Think of regular home maintenance as protecting your investment, especially if you want to sell it and make more money then when you bought it or if you want to leave it to your families future generations to find comfort when you're gone.


Performing home maintenance means preventive maintenance, checking, diagnosing, and then fixing or hiring someone to fix any problem or potential future problems. You want to make sure everything is working correctly!


Think of your home like a car, yes your car is a smaller investment but if you don't perform regular maintenance and tune-ups or oil changes, that investment is going to literally die on you...or at the very least break and become more expensive than it's worth.


Then you can't get to work, bring your kids to school, go on road trips, or enjoy the luxury of having your own transportation at your own whim. Especially if you don't live in an area with adequate walkable locations or reliable public transportation.


If you don't take care of your house you may end up bankrupt, unable to sell, or with a broken house that isn't fit for living. Therefore, it's important to invest your time into your home!


Now, that we've covered the basics lets talk about plumbing. So exciting, I know!


plumber wrench
Before You Start - Find The Shut Off Valve

Plumbing is a tough skill to learn, but it's definitely not impossible. Especially because it can become insanely expensive when you can't do it yourself.


Plus, who doesn't like that feeling of accomplishment when you've completed a difficult task? Here's your chance!


There are a lot of minor problems that are easily fixable with some Youtube videos and a little elbow grease. Wouldn't it be nice to be an accomplished DIY'er who's able to fix a leaky faucet without calling a plumber?


How about a clogged drain? All of these are, usually, easy fixes that you can do yourself.


There are a few important things to remember when you're working with plumbing which can very easily become a large plumbing disaster if you're not careful! It's not hard to avoid these issues, but awareness is key.


Learning about the plumbing structure within your house is the first thing you should do! Maybe buy a few books, watch a few videos, and familiarize yourself with the basics. You should know what types of pipes do what, what the recommended sizes are and how they should be organized and then compare that to how they're organized in your own home.


Take some time and explore your own house's plumbing to get a sense of where all of your pipes and valves are.


Secondly, make sure you have the correct tools. It's like starting to bake something and realizing you're out of baking powder. This little ingredient seems insignificant but without it your muffins will be flat, dense, wannabe scones.


If you stay ready, you won't have to get ready.


If the job seems to big for you at the end of the day - call a professional. There is nothing wrong with asking for help! Whether you're going to the hardware store for advice or you're giving up and calling in the pros. There's no shame in that! At least you tried your best and tried to get a grasp of the situation first!


Let's get started on your DIY plumbing journey.



woman plumber
Installing Shut Off Valves is an Important DIY Tip!

Shut-off valves are one of the most important things to have and have knowledge of when you're doing any plumbing project. They're also called "supply stop valves", which allow you to connect supply lines with basic indoor plumbing like sinks and toilets.


These valves are fantastic for shutting off the water in isolated spots so that you don't have to shut the water off in the entire house.


If you've ever cleaned the base of your toilet, and if you haven't here's a reminder because they can get quite gross, then you'll know what the valve looks typically looks like. It's typically an oval or eye shaped knob that you can loosen or tighten.


These valves, depending on the age of your house, could be attached to the pipe with threads, they could be soldered on or have a compression fitting.


Older valves were typically shaped like a wheel and needed to be turned all the way on or all the way off. Newer valves typically only turn one direction and don't need to be fully tightened or opened.


→ → REMEMBER, lefty loosey, righty tighty.


We're going to cover a handful of shut-off valves that are attached to copper supply lines in the following paragraphs. So, stay tuned!


First and Foremost, Identify the Existing Shut Off Valve

Before you can replace or fix a shut-off valve you have to be able to identify the old one. Plus, you won't know what tools you need until you know how it's attached!


Once you locate the valve, you have to determine if it's connected to the pipe via solder, compression fitting or threaded fitting.


Connections that are soldered together are marked by discolored pipe and fitting. It will typically be smooth on the end of the fitting where it connects to the pipe and there will be silver solder around the joint. To replace a soldered fitting you can use a solder-type, compression-type or push-to-connect type stop valve.


If your connection is created by a compression fitting then you want to look for a large compression nut where the valve connects to the pipe. These valves can be replaced with a new compression-type valve or a push-to-connect valve.


Threaded connections are marked by visible threads (like a screw, or the top of a twist top jar) where the fitting connects to the pipe. The pipe will either be copper or galvanized. This valve can only be replaced with a new threaded valve.


Now That You Know What Kind of Valve Connection You Have It's Time To Prepare for Removal

BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING: SHUT OFF THE WATER TO THE FIXTURE.


Don't just take the valve off and flood your home. Find the closest, most accessible in-line shut-off valve that feeds the pipe you're working on (if you can) or shut off the main water supply.


If the line you're working on includes hot water, then be proactive and turn off your electric water heater, or if you have a gas water heater bring it down to it's pilot setting.


Once the water is off open the faucet to drain the line and prop a bucket under the old valve.


Please note that this section is things to do BEFORE you remove any valves. Unless you're planning on swimming in your bathroom or kitchen do these things first.


Removing the Shut Off Valve

SOLDER:To remove a solder-type valve, cut the supply line with a pipe cutter. Make sure you leave enough room between the escutcheon plate and the cut so that you can easily install the new valve. It looks kind of like a large washer, and is either made of copper, PVC pipe, PEX, or a stainless steel wall cover.


Deburr the pipe with a deburring tool (get rid of any rough shavings on the end of the pipe where you cut it). Make it smooth to ensure a smooth connection. If you don't have enough room to do any of these things, heat the fitting with a propane torch until it loosens, using a heat shield to protect any flammable surfaces. Pull the valve off by twisting it gently with some pliers.


COMPRESSION: If you have a compression-type valve, loosen the compression nut with an adjustable wrench. Make sure you have a second wrench at the ready! You may need to use it to steady the valve in case it wants to turn with the nut. Push the nut away from the ferrule, then cut the ferrule with a hacksaw. The ferrule is inside of the nut and helps keep the pipes together. It's a small smooth ring!


Be careful not to damage the pipe! Once the ferrule is cut, use a flat head screwdriver to carefully pry it away from the pipe. Kind of like fixing a necklace, earring or bracelet when the loop comes apart!


PUSH TO CONNECT: Push-To-Connect Fitting Removal Tool is the fastest and simplest way to remove push-to-connect fittings from copper, CPVC, or PEX pipe in hard to reach places.


THREAD: Last but not least, the thread-type valve is the most obvious and can be the easiest (unless it's rusty). Using a pipe wrench hold the pipe steady and, using an adjustable wrench, twist the valve off.


The end! So simple, right?!


Now It's Time to Prep the Pipe

SOLDER: When you're working with a solder-type valve you have to clean the pipe with sanding cloth, remove as much of the solder as you can to ensure that the pipe is clean and smooth. That's to help create a good connection that won't leak! Then you clean inside of the valve with the sanding cloth, and then apply flux to the fitting and the joint.


COMPRESSION: If you're installing a compression-style valve, slide the compression nut over the supply pipe. You want to slide the nut as far back as you can to give yourself room. Place the ferrule (you know? The smooth band we mentioned?) over the end of the supply pipe. It should completely cover the end of the supply pipe.


PUSH TO CONNECT: If you're connecting a push-to-connect valve then simply clean the pipe with sanding cloth to ensure that it is smooth and clean. That's it! So easy.


THREAD: Lastly, if you're installing a thread-type valve just remove the any remaining thread seal tape and clean the threads with a wire brush. Then, wrap the threads with new thread seal tape or a pipe thread compound.


Install the New Shut Off Valve. We've Made It!

SOLDER: Installing a solder-type valve requires you to place the valve onto the pipe and make sure it's a tight fit. We're working with water remember? Twist it to distribute the flux evenly. Then you have to open the valve completely to keep the internal washer from melting while you heat the fitting using a propane torch. When you see the flux starting to bubble, apply the solder to the joint.


Just use 1/2 an inch of solder to a 1/2 an inch of pipe diameter. Wipe the joint clean with a DRY cloth before the solder dries and voilà! It's done.


COMPRESSION: A compression-style valve is pretty simple to install. Thread the valve into the compression and make sure it fits squarely and snugly over the ferrule ring! Hand-tighten the nut into the valve and then finish tightening it using an adjustable wrench to hold the valve and another one to turn the nut. Do NOT over tighten because you can over-compress the ferrule.


PUSH TO CONNECT: If you're installing a push-to-connect type shut-off valve then press it squarely and evenly onto the pipe until it bottoms out. Once that's done just pull it slightly to ensure that it's secured in place. These work internally and creates a water-tight seal that can only be removed with a special tool.


THREAD: You start installing a thread type valve by hand, then you use a pipe wrench to secure the pipe in place and an adjustable wrench to tighten the valve. Once again, do NOT over-tighten. You could crack the valve or strip the threads. Both of which can cause leaks or problems for fixing anything later.


Re-Attach Those Plumbing Supply Lines


What's the point if you don't have supply lines attached to your valve?


If you're reattaching the same lines, you've already disconnected the old valve and from there just use the same procedure you used to install the valve.


If you're replacing the old supply lines with new braided flexible lines you'll have to remove the old supplies from the faucets before you proceed.


Check To See If The Valve Leaks!


Turn on the main water supply and open the newly installed shut-off valves. Let the water flow through the faucet to get rid of the air collected in the lines, check for leaks by feeling your new fittings with your hand or a paper towel.


If anything is leaking, tighten what you need to!


These are all great skills in preventing severe water damage in your home before it happens!


Stay vigilant and happy plumbing.




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