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What to Do When a Shut-Off Valve Malfunctions


Whether you are in the midst of a plumbing emergency or simply working on a home improvement project, it’s never fun to discover your shut-off valve doesn’t work. What needs to be done next depends on the situation, what valve it is, and what’s wrong with the valve. Here are a few tips to help you decide what to do next after you have discovered a shut-off valve malfunction.

Which Valve Is It?

Most houses have a number of shut-off valves in them, so the first thing to do is identify which valve isn’t working. Many fixtures and appliances in a home have their own shut off valves, such as toilets, sinks, the dishwasher, and the water heater. If you’re working on one of these and the shut-off valve isn’t working, you can use the main shut off valve to stop the flow of water into your home. Be sure to repair or replace the malfunctioning valve while you’re at it!

Tips for Quick DIY Repairs

What happens next depends heavily on what’s wrong with the valve and how much skill you have as a do-it-yourselfer. Here are a few common scenarios and what to do about them.

  • Stuck valve: If you simply can’t turn the valve, as often happens with fixture shut-offs and old-fashioned main shut-offs, you may need to spray the valve with WD-40 and wait a little bit before trying again. It’s recommended to turn valves on and off periodically and spray them with oil as needed to prevent being unable to close the valve in an emergency situation.
  • Partially closing valve: Sometimes you can turn the valve, but not all the way, which will result in only being able to shut off the water most of the way. Since it’s important to be able to shut the water completely off, you may need to replace this valve with one that works more smoothly.
  • Leaking valve: When you shut off the water, whether to a fixture or the main supply on the house, the water will often find another way out if the seal isn’t very good. You can grab a pair of pliers and try tightening the fittings and see if that stops the leak. If not, you may have to take apart the valve and replace the washer inside, or even just replace it altogether.

Call a Plumber

Repairing or replacing a shut off valve isn’t for the faint of heart, and dealing with a malfunctioning valve during an emergency situation makes everything even worse. If you feel panicked or aren’t sure what to do, that’s a pretty good sign you should call in a professional. Whether you have an emergency on your hands or a less pressing repair that just needs to be done, Maeser’s experienced repair technicians have your back. Call us today and we’ll get your water flowing smoothly again!

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