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DIYGUY 07-29-2006 11:12 PM

Need good advice for fixing water leak
I posted two pictures showing a very slow water leak from the first shut-off valve before the water meter. I would rather not try to tighten this with a wrench for fear I might make the leak worse. Should I try but do it very little at a time? I have city water and do not know where the outside shut-off valve is. I am very willing to have a plumber fix this. Does the city need to inspect this repair, or shut-off the water? Or can a plumber do that? I know, I should call my water dept and ask. I would rather get some info here first. My house was built in 1955. Click on the two pictures to view them full size.

Comments please!


asbestos 07-30-2006 04:46 AM

while this looks like it could be an easy enough fix I would do nothing untill I found the outside shut off. Call the water dept. and ask for help finding it. You may also need a shut off thing to get to it. Unless there is a floor drain that can handle mass water if that thing breaks you will be up &%¢∞§¶ creek in a big hurry.
You will want to know where the outside shut off is anyway

glennjanie 07-30-2006 02:30 PM

Hello DIYGUY and Welcome:
The leak you have is from the valve stem packing. The packing nut is just below the wheel handle; it contains some string that is saturated with graphite and wrapped around the stem several times. All you need to do is tighten the packing nut 1/4 to 1/2 turn with the valve all the way on. If you try it with the valve closed you will be turning the water off harder. If the packing nut is turned too much it will bind the stem and keep it from turning either way. Frequently, if a valve is not opened all the way, it will leak like that; in that case just open the valve more. I would put my money on the packing nut in this case because it looks like the valve is wide open.

DIYGUY 10-04-2006 11:48 PM

Leak just got worse!
I tried to tighten the valve with a wrench and the slow leak got a bit worse. It's a slow enough drip where its not an emergency now. I just keep a bucket under it for now.

There is NO sign of a water shut off valve outside my house. I'm willing to have a plumber fix this problem. There is a problem though. I ran a copper supply from a branch off the water meter to my water heater which I installed. I did not get a permit. I am worried that the water dept and/or city will have to inspect the plumber's repair and find out I did not get a permit.

I am also wondering if the water dept will have to fix the leak because it is the first shut off valve "before" the meter in the house.

I hope a plumber can do this without pulling a permit or having it inspected.

Any advice from plumbers would be great. I live in Southeast Michigan.

glennjanie 10-05-2006 11:14 AM

I understand the fear of inspections however, you can obtain a "Homeowner's Permit" to work on your own home in most jurisdictions. It still has to meet the local code and be inspected but you have the option of saving a LOT of money.
I'm still putting my money on the packing nut; be sure the valve is all the way open and put a little graphite on the stem. Then turn the valve off and back on to work the lubricant into the packing material. Turn it all the way on and tighten the packing nut some more (just 1/4 turn at a time) while you use another wrench to back up the force on the packing nut; there is another nut-like piece to the left there. I prefer to use wrenches that fit in this case rather than an adjustable wrench or pliers; it just makes the nuts hold their shape and last longer. After you tighten the packing nut you should brush off the corrosion on the bottom and check the leak several times by first drying it with a rag and then feel with your dry finger for water.
Caution: it you have high water usage going on during this repair the condensation of cold water comming through a warm space will appear as a false leak.

DIYGUY 10-06-2006 12:11 PM

Problem fixed!
The city shut off the water at the street. The plumber quickly put in a new ball valve and replaced the short piece of galvanized pipe between the valve and meter. That pipe had about a 75% rust blockage! Very pleased! No permit or inspection was needed.:) :) :) :)

glennjanie 10-06-2006 01:31 PM

Congratulations DIYGUY:
I'm glad you have the problem fixed and are out of the woods on that one! It sounds like the plumber updated the whole works for you and it should last for a lifetime now.

Square Eye 10-06-2006 02:56 PM

Love to hear a good report, even if a professional was involved.

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