Shutoff Valve Leaks

05/28/2019

Understanding Shutoff Valve Leaks and Their Repairs

Plumbing problems can occur just about anywhere on your plumbing fixtures, including the shutoff valve. These important valves let you turn the water off from your appliances during repairs and other situations. Problems with shutoff valves often require professional help to manage. Learn more about the causes and solutions for this type of plumbing issue.

Many Plumbing Fixtures Have Shutoff Valves

Shutoff valves exist on a large variety of plumbing fixtures. For example, just about every sink and toilet in your home will have a shutoff valve. Appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and bathtubs typically have a shutoff valve as well. Though these valves are sometimes hidden, many will be out in the open.

Unfortunately, these valves may slowly develop leaks that can spread water damage throughout your home in a slow, but persistent, manner. Understanding the nature of these leaks helps to prepare you for the types of repairs that may be necessary. 

Problems With Certain Components Trigger Leaks 

The shutoff valve is not a complex element on your plumbing system. As a result, leaks typically occur in only a handful of places.

For example, the rubber bonnet packing washer inside of the valve may become less flexible as the valve ages. This washer is necessary for pushing the valve up against the stem to keep water from flowing. Unfortunately, the shutoff valve is so rarely used that the inflexibility of this part of the unit is often a common problem that causes minor to significant leaks.

Another common issue that may trigger a shutoff valve leak includes cracks around the valve stem. As the stem is put under pressure whenever you close the valve, breaks in its sealant may occur that cause slow leaks. Unfortunately, these leaks are often so slow — one or two drops per minute — that you may not notice them for a long time. 

Repair Methods Vary in Complexity

Repairs for a leaking shutoff valve vary depending on the issue triggering the leak. Typically, these fixes focus on one part of the unit due to its fairly simple design and the slow rate of most valve wear and tear. However, some repairs may require repairing multiple elements or even replacing them entirely. 

For example, replacing the rubber bonnet packing washer may decrease or eliminate the leaks in your valve. This process requires carefully removing the shutoff valve stem from the pipe, taking off the washer, and replacing it with a new one. Some homeowners may perform this repair on their own without difficulty, though professional help is often a good choice. 

Professionals can also help with leaks around the valve stem. These slow leaks typically require a more concentrated and expert repair approach, one that a homeowner cannot do on their own.

For example, a professional may need to apply a sealant to these leaks to decrease their severity. In other cases, a full replacement of the valve stem may be necessary, which is usually beyond the skill level of most homeowners. 

Professional Help is Smart 

While shutoff valve repairs aren’t the most complex type you’ll experience as a homeowner, most still require the touch of a professional. DIY plumbing rarely goes well for homeowners because simple mistakes may trigger worsened shutoff valve leaks that are hard to repair on your own. 

So if your shutoff valve leaks and you want to minimize this problem, make sure to contact us at Gold Seal Plumbing right away to get the help that you need. Our professionals can assess if your valves need to be replaced entirely or if simple repairs can get them working right again.