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  1. #1
    borntochill is offline Senior Member
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    Default Water main cutoff/utility sink faucet replacement

    The hot water faucet on my ancient basement utility sink has a minor leak. When the home inspector looked at it, he recommended that I replace it. Although I'm a complete amateur at plumbing, it doesn't look difficult to replace. The only problem is that that I tried the water shutoffs for this faucet, but the hot water one will not completely close.

    I'm thinking that I'll need to shut off water to the entire house, but I haven't done that before since I moved in. I see where the water comes into the basement where there's a "Badger Meter," presumably from the Water Dept. There's a shutoff knob on the utility side of the meter, but I don't see any shutoff knob on the homeowner side. Is there any problem with my shutting off the water on the utility side? Are there any things I need to do or should be aware of before shutting off the main?

    Here's a picture of a faucet that looks pretty much like the one I need to replace:



    Anything else I should be aware of before tackling this? I welcome any advice.

    Also for various other small projects I don't want to tackle but are way too small for a general contractor, can anyone recommend a handyman? Private messaging me is fine if you prefer.

  2. #2
    waterman is offline Member
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    Default Go For It

    You can shut off that valve near your meter. It belongs to you. In Phila, you own everything- pipes and valves- from the watermain in the street on into the house. If you can't get a sufficient shutdown with that valve, you'll have to call a plumber to shut off your service at the curbstop. If it comes to this, you should consider having a plumber replace a number of critical valves and recommend adding a few. It will make future maintenance much easier. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Litter Box's Avatar
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    Try the shut off valve at the hot water heater.
    But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me.
    12/21/2001 White House release: President Highlights

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    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterman View Post
    You can shut off that valve near your meter. It belongs to you. In Phila, you own everything- pipes and valves- from the watermain in the street on into the house. If you can't get a sufficient shutdown with that valve, you'll have to call a plumber to shut off your service at the curbstop. If it comes to this, you should consider having a plumber replace a number of critical valves and recommend adding a few. It will make future maintenance much easier. Good luck.
    If the main stop passes it is easier, cheaper, and less risky to add a second stop downstream of the meter and make that the main stop. C'mon - you're giving people advice to snap off their curb cocks. A ball and waste at eye level on the house side of the meter will give you a great emergency shutdown and also a low-point drain. It (i.e. a stop on either side of the meter) is also required by water department regulations, but it is rarely extant in Philadelphia houses.
    Last edited by billy ross; 12-07-2009 at 07:44 AM.

  5. #5
    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by borntochill View Post
    The hot water faucet on my ancient basement utility sink has a minor leak. When the home inspector looked at it, he recommended that I replace it. Although I'm a complete amateur at plumbing, it doesn't look difficult to replace. The only problem is that that I tried the water shutoffs for this faucet, but the hot water one will not completely close.

    I'm thinking that I'll need to shut off water to the entire house, but I haven't done that before since I moved in. I see where the water comes into the basement where there's a "Badger Meter," presumably from the Water Dept. There's a shutoff knob on the utility side of the meter, but I don't see any shutoff knob on the homeowner side. Is there any problem with my shutting off the water on the utility side? Are there any things I need to do or should be aware of before shutting off the main?

    Here's a picture of a faucet that looks pretty much like the one I need to replace:



    Anything else I should be aware of before tackling this? I welcome any advice.

    Also for various other small projects I don't want to tackle but are way too small for a general contractor, can anyone recommend a handyman? Private messaging me is fine if you prefer.
    I recommend that you pull the stems and take them to Killian's or Stanley's, or just the hot stem if the cold stem is working fine. The seats on laundry faucets of that style rarely fail, and you can probably get a new stem, with or without a new handle, pretty cheap, which will give you the effect you are looking for. If you can't get the handle off, you can usually raise the faucet up so that you can spin the stem enough times that it comes off.

  6. #6
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    theWatusi is offline TP for my bunghole
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    Something similar just happened at my mom's house. She's renovating the hall bath, so I went to shut off the water to the riser for the bathroom to disconnect the old tub, and when I closed to ancient gate valve, it started leaking. I then shut off the house side valve at the meter and that started dripping as well.

    I borrowed a water box key from the water authority to shut the water off at the street and replaced every valve in the basement (all of them old gate valves) with ball valves.

  7. #7
    borntochill is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks everybody for your advice.

    @waterman. Next time I bring in a plumber, I'll ask about replacing old valves. How much do they usually run?

    @Litter Box. I see a shutoff valve for the cold water coming into the hot water heater, but no shutoff on the hot output. Will the hot water cut off automatically when I cut the water heater's supply, or will it keep feeding from the tank until it is low?

    If cutting off the house water main creates a risk that the very old main gate valve in the basement might start leaking, I'm inclined to leave it alone if possible.

    @billy ross. You are a font of wisdom on these matters. Thank you.

    I haven't yet hired a plumber and should probably have the number for one on hand in case I run into a problem. Recommendations? I'm in NW Philly if that makes a difference. Again, private message me if you prefer.

  8. #8
    Litter Box's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by borntochill View Post
    Thanks everybody for your advice.

    @waterman. Next time I bring in a plumber, I'll ask about replacing old valves. How much do they usually run?

    @Litter Box. I see a shutoff valve for the cold water coming into the hot water heater, but no shutoff on the hot output. Will the hot water cut off automatically when I cut the water heater's supply, or will it keep feeding from the tank until it is low?

    If cutting off the house water main creates a risk that the very old main gate valve in the basement might start leaking, I'm inclined to leave it alone if possible.

    @billy ross. You are a font of wisdom on these matters. Thank you.

    I haven't yet hired a plumber and should probably have the number for one on hand in case I run into a problem. Recommendations? I'm in NW Philly if that makes a difference. Again, private message me if you prefer.
    There is a spigot type drain on water heaters, you could let a small amount of water out there if you have to sweat in anything. Closing the cold water inlet will do a great job. I used to have a lot of apartments and you can never have too many shutoff valves.

    I'm having a mental block but there is/was a supply house on Lancaster Ave that specialized in stems and even would make one if they couldn't get one.
    I'm thinking around the 4500 block.
    But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me.
    12/21/2001 White House release: President Highlights

  9. #9
    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litter Box View Post
    There is a spigot type drain on water heaters, you could let a small amount of water out there if you have to sweat in anything. Closing the cold water inlet will do a great job. I used to have a lot of apartments and you can never have too many shutoff valves.

    I'm having a mental block but there is/was a supply house on Lancaster Ave that specialized in stems and even would make one if they couldn't get one.
    I'm thinking around the 4500 block.
    Pier-Angeli is out of that business.

  10. #10
    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by theWatusi View Post
    Something similar just happened at my mom's house. She's renovating the hall bath, so I went to shut off the water to the riser for the bathroom to disconnect the old tub, and when I closed to ancient gate valve, it started leaking. I then shut off the house side valve at the meter and that started dripping as well.

    I borrowed a water box key from the water authority to shut the water off at the street and replaced every valve in the basement (all of them old gate valves) with ball valves.
    Gate valves should be used rarely, if at all. They are all superannuated at this point. Dropping a gate isn't fun. On a service it's even worse.

    You only need one reliable main stop, at the water meter. Riser valves are superfluous and you really only need use them when renovating a bathroom. Each water heater should have a good stop on it, and I prefer having stops at each fixture - toilet, faucet, etc. Everyone in the house should know where the main stop is and how to turn it off, just in case.

  11. #11
    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litter Box View Post
    There is a spigot type drain on water heaters, you could let a small amount of water out there if you have to sweat in anything. Closing the cold water inlet will do a great job. I used to have a lot of apartments and you can never have too many shutoff valves.

    I'm having a mental block but there is/was a supply house on Lancaster Ave that specialized in stems and even would make one if they couldn't get one.
    I'm thinking around the 4500 block.
    Water heater drains often leak after you use them. Any valve which hasn't been touched in 10 or 25 years is likely to leak the minute you touch it. That's another reason to use the main stop - it gets exercised.

    Too many valves can be confusing. I've seen people shut off entire restaurants and not be able to get the water back on during the dinner rush when they were trying to water the roses. Sometimes less is more.

  12. #12
    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by borntochill View Post
    Thanks everybody for your advice.

    @waterman. Next time I bring in a plumber, I'll ask about replacing old valves. How much do they usually run?

    @Litter Box. I see a shutoff valve for the cold water coming into the hot water heater, but no shutoff on the hot output. Will the hot water cut off automatically when I cut the water heater's supply, or will it keep feeding from the tank until it is low?

    If cutting off the house water main creates a risk that the very old main gate valve in the basement might start leaking, I'm inclined to leave it alone if possible.

    @billy ross. You are a font of wisdom on these matters. Thank you.

    I haven't yet hired a plumber and should probably have the number for one on hand in case I run into a problem. Recommendations? I'm in NW Philly if that makes a difference. Again, private message me if you prefer.
    Look for the name brand of your faucet. If you find Central or Gerber on it, the parts are standard. Even if it is off-brand, you can probably get new stems, or buy the same exact faucet and swap out the parts. I would recommend that you not try to solder or even swap out the faucet using the mechanical joints, if they exist; your mechanical knowledge seems shaky. Start small and build your knowledge / skills. Soldering in the basement of an old house will probably shatter your confidence - it can be maddening.

  13. #13
    Litter Box's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy ross View Post
    Water heater drains often leak after you use them. Any valve which hasn't been touched in 10 or 25 years is likely to leak the minute you touch it. That's another reason to use the main stop - it gets exercised.

    Too many valves can be confusing. I've seen people shut off entire restaurants and not be able to get the water back on during the dinner rush when they were trying to water the roses. Sometimes less is more.
    I had apartment buildings without enough shutoffs and shutting off a line could cut off water to 30 units. We used to freeze the line to a faucet in order to fix a leak. Sorry 'bout that hole in the ozone layer.
    But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me.
    12/21/2001 White House release: President Highlights

  14. #14
    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litter Box View Post
    I had apartment buildings without enough shutoffs and shutting off a line could cut off water to 30 units. We used to freeze the line to a faucet in order to fix a leak. Sorry 'bout that hole in the ozone layer.
    Apartment buildings are different. They should have good riser valves, and stops at every fixture, too. In a perfect world, each unit would have a master valves in each unit to kill the cold and the hot for that unit only, generally in the access panel behind the tub. All of the riser valves need to be labelled. It is assumed that the people working on commercial buildings have a greater level of mechanical ability and the people using commercial buildings have a lesser tolerance of mechanical failures.

  15. #15
    theWatusi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy ross View Post
    Gate valves should be used rarely, if at all. They are all superannuated at this point. Dropping a gate isn't fun. On a service it's even worse.

    You only need one reliable main stop, at the water meter. Riser valves are superfluous and you really only need use them when renovating a bathroom. Each water heater should have a good stop on it, and I prefer having stops at each fixture - toilet, faucet, etc. Everyone in the house should know where the main stop is and how to turn it off, just in case.
    Well perhaps it was overkill for me to replace all of them, but I figured while I had the torch out, why not go all in.

  16. #16
    Litter Box's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy ross View Post
    Apartment buildings are different. They should have good riser valves, and stops at every fixture, too. In a perfect world, each unit would have a master valves in each unit to kill the cold and the hot for that unit only, generally in the access panel behind the tub. All of the riser valves need to be labelled. It is assumed that the people working on commercial buildings have a greater level of mechanical ability and the people using commercial buildings have a lesser tolerance of mechanical failures.
    In a lot of older buildings shutoff valves were not that common and whenever we had to freeze a line we installed one. In a 90 unit building we did almost all maintenance in house.
    But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me.
    12/21/2001 White House release: President Highlights

  17. #17
    billy ross is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Litter Box View Post
    In a lot of older buildings shutoff valves were not that common and whenever we had to freeze a line we installed one. In a 90 unit building we did almost all maintenance in house.
    I've heard of using dry ice to freeze a line. How does it work? How come the lines don't burst when they freeze?

    I had a leaking water service last year, and the leak was on the street side of the curbcock, on a rare block with plastic services. I called in some old co-workers, and they cut the line on the fly and made it up as the hole filled up with water. It took a while and it was nerve-wracking the stop kept blowing off. I have replaced two main stops in a similar fashion - I have never broken a curbcock, and I don't want to start doing so. That's fun, watching the water shoot across the basement while I am threading a brass service (in the first instance), or just unscrewing a gate valve with a dropped gate on the fly and installing a new valve, then closing it. I tried it once on a commercial building with crazy pressure, and it took me a half-hour to get the new valve on, and I was drenched to the bone before I was done.

  18. #18
    Litter Box's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy ross View Post
    I've heard of using dry ice to freeze a line. How does it work? How come the lines don't burst when they freeze?

    I had a leaking water service last year, and the leak was on the street side of the curbcock, on a rare block with plastic services. I called in some old co-workers, and they cut the line on the fly and made it up as the hole filled up with water. It took a while and it was nerve-wracking the stop kept blowing off. I have replaced two main stops in a similar fashion - I have never broken a curbcock, and I don't want to start doing so. That's fun, watching the water shoot across the basement while I am threading a brass service (in the first instance), or just unscrewing a gate valve with a dropped gate on the fly and installing a new valve, then closing it. I tried it once on a commercial building with crazy pressure, and it took me a half-hour to get the new valve on, and I was drenched to the bone before I was done.
    Our tool was made in Germany and used freon with adapters to fit various sizes of tubing. You would "drip" the freon low on the pipe and cut high. Never used dry ice and it probably would be a PITA. I think Ridgid makes a tool now but I have not looked into it because I no longer have a need.

    We were probably responsible for some of the hole in the ozone layer but hey what did we know and freon was cheap then.
    But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me.
    12/21/2001 White House release: President Highlights

 

 

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