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How often should I turn off and on my water valves?

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  • Aug 19th, 2020 6:08 pm
[OP]
Member
May 2, 2014
462 posts
180 upvotes

How often should I turn off and on my water valves?

I live in 20-30 year old condo.... i hear it is good practice to turn the various water valves from time to time to prevent them from being seized.

how often should i turn them?
and how far should they be turned (i.e. do i need to fully close then and open them, or is a few turns back and forth sufficient)?
15 replies
Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11944 posts
7118 upvotes
Paris
TomLafinsky wrote: Since you live in a 20-30 year old condo if I were you I wouldn't touch the valve. IMHO, you are asking for trouble. It is likely that the valve was not exercised during the previous 20-30 yrs, so now is not the time to play with it unless absolutely necessary.
100% will leak on you.
Sr. Member
Oct 27, 2009
661 posts
445 upvotes
Hamilton
Jerico wrote: 100% will leak on you.
So what should he do? Wait for an emergency and then you have a bigger problem.

I’m facing the same predicament. Need to do some bathroom work soon and no shut offs where I need them. Yet I’d rather not touch the main shut offs..
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
20506 posts
13884 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
It really depends on the type of valve. If it's a ball valve (ie you can turn the water off with a 90 degree turn), then there is not too much to worry about. However, if it's the more traditional gate valve (ie you need multiple turns to open and close the valve), the rubber parts in the valve can and do age poorly over time.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
8031 posts
9004 upvotes
Montréal
I live in a 45+ house, had to turn it off few years ago for work and had no issue. But I would not play with it now... just for the fun of it... My neighbour had a leak by turning it off, had to call the city to had the water supply turned off at her place, and had to call a plumber to change the valve, plumber had to open the wall to have room to work... big damages, big $$$ spent...
Deal Addict
Sep 13, 2016
3426 posts
2207 upvotes
Mississauga
If you at all dare and decide to turn it, be ready to install a compression ball valve down the line just after your current main valve while the water is off. Compression valves are easy to install, and since it is a ball valve(quarter turn to open/close) they are unlikely to leak. This new valve can then serve as your main shut off in future.
Sr. Member
Jan 7, 2013
828 posts
498 upvotes
Oshawa, Ontario
IndyBeak wrote: If you at all dare and decide to turn it, be ready to install a compression ball valve down the line just after your current main valve while the water is off. Compression valves are easy to install, and since it is a ball valve(quarter turn to open/close) they are unlikely to leak. This new valve can then serve as your main shut off in future.
I did this for my house. Trust the old gate valve for one more isolation then install a ball valve that will be bulletproof for isolation in future.

FYI my brother operated his main shutoff and the packing disintegrated and resulted in a leak to his basement. He had to pay the local utility emergency fee to shut the water off from the curb stop
Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11944 posts
7118 upvotes
Paris
stimy wrote: So what should he do? Wait for an emergency and then you have a bigger problem.

I’m facing the same predicament. Need to do some bathroom work soon and no shut offs where I need them. Yet I’d rather not touch the main shut offs..
If it’s 30 years old, replace it. Testing it now and being forced to replace it doesnt do you any good. Get the parts and get it done.
Sr. Member
Oct 27, 2009
661 posts
445 upvotes
Hamilton
Jerico wrote: If it’s 30 years old, replace it. Testing it now and being forced to replace it doesnt do you any good. Get the parts and get it done.
Basically I have to call the city to shut off the main?
Deal Fanatic
Dec 27, 2007
5579 posts
2961 upvotes
stimy wrote: Basically I have to call the city to shut off the main?
Yea, and a plumber to change the part

Maybe the city worker can wait around while the plumber changes the valve so you don't have to pay the fee twice

In Vaughan the guy from the city waited around while the plumbers replaced the valve but it probably depends how busy they are
Sr. Member
Jan 7, 2013
828 posts
498 upvotes
Oshawa, Ontario
Depending on the style of main valve, you can buy a new valve stem unit to install into the old valve body. You still need to shutoff water at the street to do this but otherwise its an DIY swap as it just threads on.

Then you can add a ball valve downstream of your meter later easily if you want
[OP]
Member
May 2, 2014
462 posts
180 upvotes
TomLafinsky wrote: Since you live in a 20-30 year old condo if I were you I wouldn't touch the valve. IMHO, you are asking for trouble. It is likely that the valve was not exercised during the previous 20-30 yrs, so now is not the time to play with it unless absolutely necessary.
ahh i forgot....the condo corp replaced many valves in my unit within the past few years, but i believe they are gate valves. Should i turn these newer valves? and if so, at what frequency and should it be a full off and on?
Deal Fanatic
Oct 18, 2004
5200 posts
1681 upvotes
Wat
I shutoff my main valve everytime i go on long vacations (1 wk or more). Is that bad?
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
20506 posts
13884 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
Wiseman wrote: I shutoff my main valve everytime i go on long vacations (1 wk or more). Is that bad?
That's good as you use the valve regularly. The problem occurs is when people haven't used the valve for years or even decades as the rubber in standard gate type valves (the normal ones found in most homes) will harden over time and may start cracking when used.
[OP]
Member
May 2, 2014
462 posts
180 upvotes
craftsman wrote: That's good as you use the valve regularly. The problem occurs is when people haven't used the valve for years or even decades as the rubber in standard gate type valves (the normal ones found in most homes) will harden over time and may start cracking when used.
why would a gate valve's rubber get hard when not in use? isnt it still exposed to the water?
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
20506 posts
13884 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
ausername wrote: why would a gate valve's rubber get hard when not in use? isnt it still exposed to the water?
The rubber will naturally harden over time. There is little if anything that can be done to slow or stop the process. In the days before washerless taps, taps would drip all of the time due to worn and hardened rubber washers which needed to be regularly replaced. Yes, much of the problem was due to wear from use but if you remove one of those washers from a tap that was rarely used, you will notice that the washer basically becomes a small hockey puck in hardness especially if you compare it to a new washer.

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