How to Repair a Busted Pipe With Out Turning Off The Main Water Supply in a Building
In a short period of time, a leak in one of your bath or kitchen water shut-off valves can cause a significant mess. It is usually an ideal solution to replace a leaking water shut-off valve, but that procedure requires the water supply to your entire home to be shut down. If, due to limited access or other reasons, you are unable to shut off the main water valve to your home, then you will need to take fast action to stop the flow of water. What you need to know about these valves and how you can repair them instead of hiring Miami plumbers locally.
How shut-off valves work & why they leak
The shut-off valves discovered in your home are of the sort known as gate valves. Gate valves have a simple operating mechanism; in the path of the water flow, the wheel or handle causes a gate to be raised or lowered. They are reliable and cheap and, as a consequence, their use is almost universal.
Among other types, however, the most vulnerable spot found in gate valves is the joint between the stem of the valve and the body of the valve; this junction between the rotating stem and the valve body can allow water to escape around the sides of the stem. Placing a waterproof barrier between the stem and the body is the solution used by manufacturers. Known as a packing gland and made of rubber, leather, fibers impregnated with grease or other materials, for the most part, the gland works well.
However, because of age, the gland material may break down or harden over time. Or, high water pressure can push the gland out of position in some circumstances. A leak is the result, either way, and your urgent task is to stop it. This is how it is done:
Needed tools & materials
- Adjustable wrench
- Flat blade screwdriver
- Phillips screwdriver
- Plumber’s Teflon tape
- Flashlight or lantern
- Paper towels or bath towels
- Step-by-step procedure
1. Dry the valve and area. By mopping up the water with paper towels or a bath towel, you will need to dry the working area before starting. Wet surfaces might cause you or your instruments to slip
2. Next, turn the valve wheel or handle all the way in a clockwise direction until it does not turn further; this will shut off the water flow from the valve. Close the valve, then remove the valve wheel or handle.
You are ready to remove the wheel or handle once the water is switched off at the valve. A single Phillips screw holds the wheel or handle in place on the stem; remove the screw, then pull the wheel or handle off the stem. Set the wheel or handle in a safe place during the repair and screw it aside.
3. To work correctly, the packing gland must be under compression and the gland follower exists to push the gland into position. Remove the gland follower. Remove the gland follower with an adjustable wrench by unscrewing it; the follower of the gland wraps around the stem and is held by threads in place. There may be a slight water release when you release the gland follower, but don’t be alarmed unless the flow is excessively heavy.
4. Give the stem another wipe down with dry paper towels, then begin wrapping several layers of plumber’s Teflon tape around the lowest part of the stem where the gland follower was previously attached. Give the stem another wipe down with dry paper towels. Wrap the tape tightly until you have built a layer about 1/16-inch thick in a counter-clockwise direction. Cut the tape end and tuck down the end of it.
Next, push the Teflon tape down the stem into the gap where the packing gland is located, using the blade of a flat-blade screwdriver. Be careful not to tear the tape and push the tape evenly from all sides to seat it. Continue to push the tape inside the valve until it is held snugly in place.
5. Once you have wrapped the stem with Teflon tape, slip the gland follower over the stem and slide it down until it meets the threads. Replace the gland follower and the stem wheel or handle. To begin tightening, turn it in a clockwise direction by hand, then finish with an adjustable wrench. With the Phillips screwdriver, re-attach the wheel or handle to the stem.
6. Test the valve. Slowly turn the handle back on to test the seal after the gland follower and handle are reinstalled on the valve stem. Watch it for a few minutes to check for leaks and drips.