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Kadath 08-04-2011 08:06 AM

Need advice for replacing main shut-off valve (pic)
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My main shut-off valve is leaking and I will replace it tomorrow morning. The city will shut-off the water at 8:00 am. I decided to go with a Sharkbite ball valve because it gives me the highest chance of success in a short amount of time. But I need advice on how to proceed.

I've attached a picture.

My question is: what would be the best way to replace the valve? It looks like I can simply cut the copper pipe on one side of the valve but I'm not sure what to do on the other side. It's a piece of copper pipe that seems to be linked to a steel pipe (which itself is connected to a water meter). I see two options:
- Replace this whole section with another copper pipe that would screw in the steel pipe. I'm concerned about the quality of these 30 year-old threads.
- Leave the steel pipe fitting alone and cut off the copper pipe instead. That will leave a section without pipe too long for the Sharkbite valve by itself though. I'll have to add a piece of pipe somehow.

Thanks for any advice!


Redwood 08-04-2011 08:46 AM

Ouch! I'd urge you to rethink the use of the SharkBite in that application...

The excess solder on the pipe, the green corrosion on the pipe, and the bending of the pipe, will all make a strong possibility that the pipe is not round enough or, smooth enough to get a good fit and seal in the SharkBite.

With this lack of a good seal there is a strong probability that you will have a leaking connection either immediately or, at some undetermined time in the future. I use SharkBites myself at times but this is not one where I would do so.

The thing to remember here is that it is the main shut off valve to your home and is the only means that you have of shutting off the incoming water to your home. If you were to have a leaking connection blow out not only would you face disastrous damage to your home before you see the leak but if the leak is on the wrong side of the valve you would be sitting there helplessly waiting for the city worker to respond to your call to have the water shut off at the curb.

I highly recommend replacing the valve with a full port 1/4 turn ball valve that is sweated on in place. The steel pipe is another concern in itself and if you are not up to the tasks involved I would recommend hiring a plumber.

Kadath 08-04-2011 08:56 AM

Ok, I'll forget about Sharkbite then, thanks a lot for the warning! I did replace soldered valves before but on 1/2 in, never 3/4. I should be able to manage.

What would be your advice about the steel pipe?

I'd prefer to do it myself because money is very tight right now and my parents had their main valve replaced last year and the plumber charged 150$ for a 10 min job. I'd rather save that money.


Redwood 08-04-2011 09:28 AM

Without seeing more it is hard to say. I'd lean towards using a brass nipple vs the galvanized steel or, extending the copper over to eliminate it...

As for the $150 charge for a 10 minute job that is not entirely unreasonable I charge considerably more that that here.

A plumber has overhead costs that far exceed the 10 minutes of labor that you see...
  • How did you find the plumber? Advertising costs money...
  • Either he or, someone else took your call and scheduled it... Again it costs money...
  • Becoming a plumber requires years of training including schooling and an apprenticeship, and ongoing training... Again costing money...
  • He then drove his truck and tools to respond to the call... The truck and tools again cost money both to purchase and maintain...
  • The plumber provided the part... Again time and money to maintain an inventory...
  • He drove to the call and looked at it either waiting for the city to shut off the water or, a return trip... Again his time is money...
  • He did the work, guaranteed the work and also has insurance to cover liabilities from damages cause by leaks... Again costing money...

So you see $150 is quite reasonable...

Kadath 08-04-2011 01:11 PM

Thanks for the advice. Yes, plumbers are totally entitled to charge that much and I understand the costs involved. I'm just saying that I'd rather save the money if I can do it myself.

One last question, should I cut the pipes to get past the old solder joints or should I just try to desolder and clean the ends without cuting? The guy at the hardware store seemed to think I could just desolder and clean the ends.

Thanks again.

Redwood 08-04-2011 02:04 PM

You will need to break a connection someplace to allow the water to drain in order to be able to heat and desolder any connections.

Just heat and wipe the solder off with a dry cotton rag and the copper will remain tinned for the new joint.

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