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Nestor_Kelebay 04-17-2009 10:08 PM

Best 1/2 inch water shut off valve?
I need to replace a pair of water shut off valves soldered onto 1/2 inch copper pipe where it's not feasible to use ball valves, and I want to know what the plumbing gurus in here think is the best non-ball valve available that can be soldered onto 1/2 inch copper pipe.

The last time I needed to do this, I used a pair of KITZ gate valves (KITZ #28 gate valves actually). The problem is that I can't shut the water off completely with them (there is always a very slow drip) and I was told that I must have mixed up or turned around the gates. (I took the bonnets and gates out of the valves, soldered the valve bodies in, and put the gates and bonnets back in, and apparantly you can't do that without running the risk of mixing up the gates or turning them around so the valve won't close 100% after that. Also, I can't order parts (like a new packing for these KITZ gate valves because the guy selling them tells me it's cheaper to replace the valve than to get a packing for it.

If you think you know your stuff, what is the best non-ball valve that can be soldered onto a 1/2 inch copper pipe, and why do you like it?

kok328 04-18-2009 06:34 AM

I have the same problem with a frost-free valve. However, I plan on cutting in a new ball valve further back where I have room to install and operate. Is this an option for you?

Nestor_Kelebay 04-18-2009 01:22 PM

No, I can't install a ball valve upstream of the existing shut off valves.

These valves shut off the water to a bathroom, and they're only a few inches from a pair of risers that deliver hot and cold water to three different bathrooms. So, the only place I have access to these risers would be in the crawl space, and I already have ball valves there to shut off the water to each stack of 3 apartments.

I already have a valve in mind (which I think is excellent), but I'm hoping someone suggests a better one.

Redwood 04-18-2009 09:22 PM

Tell you the truth I consider all of them to be a bit scary...
The only ones I am 100% comfortable with is ball valves...
Sorry I cant help you...

Nestor_Kelebay 04-18-2009 11:52 PM

Here's the valve I like, and I think is best non-ball valve available for less than $20 a pop:

A) It's rated for steam service, so it has a teflon washer, not a rubber one. Rubber washers will eventually start to rot in water, and once that happens it's only a matter of time before the valve starts to leak and you have to replace the washer. Teflon is unaffected by water so teflon washers easily last 10 times as long as rubber washers. Also, Nibco had the presence of mind to make the teflon washer a standard washer size. The washer is 3/4 inch OD, which exactly matches a "1/2R" rubber washer, so if Nibco ever goes bankrupt and the teflon washers become unavailable, I can always revert to 1/2R rubber washers.

B) It has a full graphite packing, not just a packing gland. (The drawing shows a packing gland, but the note at the bottom of the page under the dimensions chart says that valves 1/2 inch and smaller come with a packing, not a packing gland.) That means that the packing can be replaced with the valve still in service. Just close the valve to block the water pressure, remove the handle and packing nut, replace the packing in the packing nut, put the packing nut and handle back on, open the valve and tighten the packing as necessary and you're back up and running again.

C) It comes with a stainless steel bibb screw holding the teflon washer in. I wish all small valves had that. Every valve in my building has a stainless steel screw holding the washer in.

D) The valve STEM is not made of brass, it's actually machined bronze. That means that there's no zinc in the stem, and that means that the stem won't corrode over the long haul like brass does. All of us have gone to replace brass bibb screws only to have them break apart under the force of the screw driver. That's called "dezincification". The same thing happens to the stems but to a lesser degree because companies that make valves have the good sense to use a brass for the stems that has a lower zinc content. The stems in these valves are bronze, and bronze is made from copper and TIN, not copper and zinc, so there's no zinc to corrode.

E) Finally, parts are available at a reasonable price. Not too long ago I purchased another dozen of these valves, and at the same time I ordered two spare teflon washers and one spare graphite packing for each one of these valves I have. I now have a bag of teflon washers and a bag of graphite packings. I don't have the invoice in front of me, but the Teflon washers cost about $2.00 each and the graphite packings were cheaper, about $1.50 each.

F) This valve is made with no washer between the bonnet and the valve body. They just machine both mating surfaces real smooth and tighten the bygeezus out of it when screwing them together. Tightening the #$%@# out of it stops any leaks, but it also makes it a SOB to remove the bonnet to replace the washer if and when necessary. That means I have to loosen the bonnet before soldering the valve in. In fact, I take the bonnet off completely, solder just the valve body in and then screw the bonnet back in, this time WITH a teflon gasket.

I go to any place that sells O-rings for pneumatics and hydraulics and ask for a teflon back-up ring for a "214" O-ring; it fits perfectly. O-rings come in standard sizes with the first number indicating the "cord diameter", or the diameter of rubber cord the O-ring is made from, and the last two numbers indicating the mean diameter of the O-ring. A 214 O ring has a 1 inch ID and a 1 1/4 inch OD, and so the teflon back-up rings will be about the same size, and I can get them in any town large enough to have a shop that stocks commonly used O-rings and back-up rings for them.

That way I can screw the bonnet back on without tightening the bygeezus out of it or having a leak. I could use a neoprene back-up ring too, but teflon back-up rings are flat (they don't have a contour to them to accomodate the round shape of an O-ring) so they work better as gaskets.

G) The only bad thing about this valve is that because the bonnet isn't meant to be removed, it has an 8 sided bonnet nut which requires an 8 sided socket to remove (cuz only the bonnet is sticking out of the drywall.) I got a 1 1/8 inch 8 point socket (meant for a square head bolt) and had it machined in a lathe to knock the points down a bit so that each point fits in the middle of one flat on the bonnet nut (kinda like Snap-on's "Flank Drive" sockets). Since the stem of the valve goes right through the 1/2 inch drive on the socket, I also had a 1 inch hex machined onto the end of the socket so that it can be turned with a 1 inch box end wrench. So, I essentially had to have a tool made to remove the bonnets of these valves to change the washers.

NHMaster 04-19-2009 09:05 AM

I guess I don't understand why you can't use ball valves? If the handle swing is the problem, you can get stubby handles or cut some off the ones that come with the valve. For that matter, you can take the handles right off and shut them off with a wrench.

Nestor_Kelebay 04-19-2009 11:55 AM


Here's the problem:

These valves run through the studs of a plastered 2X4 wall built in front of a concrete block wall. (The concrete block wall is a fire separation to prevent fires from spreading laterally in an apartment block.) Consequently, to replace the valves I have to cut a hole in the plaster wall since getting at the valves through the concrete block wall is out of the question.

The valves are located in a corner of a bathroom behind a toilet. It would be very awkward to try to remove and install any sort of cover on the wall behind the toilet. Also, the handles of ball valves are closer to the center line of the supply pipe than on globe or gate valves, and in this case the handles would end up interfering with the plaster on the plaster wall. That would require that I provide a huge hole in that wall to operate then handles. (It would be better to have the handles clear the plaster wall so that I don't have to have such a large hole. Finally, the packings on ball valves are very close to the valve body, and that would mean that if the packing were to start leaking, I wouldn't see it, nor would there be any water on the floor. In fact, I wouldn't find out there's a problem until the person in the apartment below mentioned something about water damage to their ceiling. Removing the handles from the ball valves would solve the handle problem, but in order to open or close the valve I'd still have to see the ball valve stem, and the location of the valves near the floor behind the toilet and behind a small hole in the wall makes doing that a difficulty.

Dahl makes a small ball valve with a sleeve that goes around it that requires a special tool to open and close, but from what I've seen of these teflon seated globe valves, I think they'd be better suited to this application.

RandyJ 05-02-2009 12:15 PM

Sorry, but I too do not understand the problem. There are several 1/4 turn supply line valves available which are threaded or compression. You can get them with 1/2" NPT on both ends. Maybe these would be suitable for your needs. They are easy to turn and have various style handles from the football shaped supply line valves to some which look like petcock handles. You don't have the problems associated with the usual ball valves that have the gaudy long metal handles held on with a nut.

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