Have you ever wondered about the water supply running through your house and how much of a miracle it is that it stays inside of the piping and doesn’t make it’s way out and all over your flooring, dry wall and personal belongings.
If you have, you are like most conscientious home owners or renters. Even so much as a small leak in your plumbing, gone unnoticed long enough, can do enough damage to potentially set you back a couple of thousand dollars.
So, how about your sink…
Is it really necessary to have a shutoff valve under your sink? Most definitely! It’s ease of access and the ability to turn water off at an instant could save your house from a lot of potential water damage.
*Note – This applies to your kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, laundry sinks, and even your toilets or where ever you have a fixture or appliance that requires water flow.
An old cracked supply tube, or a leaky faucet shouldn’t require the whole houses water supply to be shut down.
By the time you notice something is wrong, you want to be able to address the problem almost instantly, where as the 60 or more seconds it might take you to locate your main water shut off valve could potentially cause a lot more damage to your house than necessary.
Not to mention the fact that a lot (not all) shut off valves require a lot of strength, or even a wrench to turn that sucker and could cost you even more time.
Different Styles Of Valves
There are a few different types of valves that you can have installed in your home. They will depend primarily on what type of plumbing material is already hooked up through your house. A few different valves include:
- Copper sweat
I will note there are a few more styles of fittings than this that you will find in a store, but these are the main ones you will most likely see.
From these fittings, they are made in two different styles, depending on where you live they may be called something different. Where I live we call them R14 and R19. To keep things simple, they are just straight vales and right angle valves. Most piping throughout your house will also be 1/2″ inside diameter. Inside diameter refers to just the space inside the pipe, not the entire thickness.
The importance of these distinctions is knowing the orientation of where the plumbing pipes come out of. Are they coming up through the floor, or out from the wall. If they are coming straight up from the floor you can use a straight valve, if they are coming out from the wall, they will require an angled valve.
All it means, is where the hook up from your plumbing pipe, to the supply lines, you might need to attach it a little differently, so that your not bending any pipes in any unusual way.
The handle of the valve comes in a few different styles as well. There is a ball valve, a quarter turn valve and a multi turn valve.
The benefit of having either a ball valve or a quarter turn valve as opposed to a multi turn valve is that they require less time and less hand movement to operate allowing you to stop the flow quicker.
The Different Valves
The copper sweat valve will most likely not even be made of copper at all, it’s usually made from metal. The purpose of having one of these is if you have copper piping through out your house.
Simply put, the copper sweat valve is made to fit over top of your copper water lines, and have a bead of solder melted around the base of the fitting where it meets the pipe allowing for a water tight seal.
A compression valve is primarily use with copper piping. The valve again will fit over tip of the pipe, a nut is screwed down over top a gasket, when it tightens up it will create a water tight seal.
These generally aren’t used with plastic piping such as PEX or PVC because the pipe will most likely just bend or crack, not providing a good enough water seal.
In some cases, depending on your local plumbing code, you may be able to fit a piece of copper inside your plastic fitting, allowing your compression valve to clamp down onto the copper. Consult your local plumber if you have any questions about this.
In my opinion this is one of the easiest valves to install, and my personal favorite piping to use through out your house. PEX piping is cheap, very flexible and easy to cut with the right tools.
A fitting will again, go inside your PEX pipe, a ring will then slide over the pipe, and using a special tool, the ring gets clamped evenly all around to create a sturdy, long lasting water tight seal.
This one takes the cake. This is the mac daddy of easy, the Dan ‘doer’ of DIY fittings. It’s very simple and will adapt to many different materials of pipe. The only requirement for this one is to slide it over your piping and push until you feel it slide down.
The removal is also very easy, and it requires a c shape plastic tool that you can pick up for a dollar, the tool fits around the pipe, below where the fitting is, and with your fingers wrapped around the pipe all you need to do is push in an upwards direction.
*Note – Make sure you turn the water supply off to the ENTIRE house first before you go to install one of these valves yourself.
There is also no harm in calling a professional to do the job, and if you go with this option, some plumbers might charge you a flat rate charge just for showing up. You could be looking at a couple hundred bucks (a little sweet talkin’ could go a long way).
Thankfully for you, this project won’t get to be a very expensive one. It could literally range anywhere from 20 dollars up to a maximum of 200 dollars.
The fittings themselves also come in varied prices. Some valves are made out of brass and can cost you around 20 bucks, a copper sweat valve can be around 15 dollars, push-fit is 17 dollars.
You may also require some basic tools if you’re going to do it yourself. You’ll have to factor this into the equation for when you make your decision. Some tools are:
- Pipe cutters (PEX or Copper)
- Measuring tape
Hiring a plumber can be a hit or miss process, if you know someone in the plumbing field, or a handy man they may be your best option. I personally worked for a guy who would sometimes not even charge a person for showing up if we only did a couple quick fixes.
On the other hand of the spectrum, you’ll get plumbers who may charge you upwards of a hundred bucks just for showing up, and then a set rate per hour afterwards. Just be conscious of this when making your decision, and don’t be afraid to call around and ask for quotes.
At the end of the day, you should not do any work yourself if you’re not comfortable or have no experience. It is almost always better to call somebody who does it daily and can provide you with the best job.
There may be factors to your plumbing system that are not covered in this article that I may have missed, so please educate yourself first before you make your move.
If you would like to check out the tools I would recommend having for this job among many other, you can check out my resources page by clicking here!
Something To Consider
You decide you want to go away for a nice well deserved two week vacation out of the country, you leave your house, drop your cat off at a friends house, kiss him goodbye and away you go.
You come back from your vacation, and exhausted from your long flight and realize your kitchen ceiling is completely exposed, and your actual ceiling is now on the floor. What happened?
A leak happened. All it could take, theoretically is a tiny drip at intervals that could be one or two drips per minute, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of a 24 hour day, and then multiplied by a two week vacation and you’re looking at a lot of water seeping through cracks, soaking through floors and doing a lot of damage along the way.
Where To Buy These Valves
Your best bet for finding the right fitting for your need is just by heading down to your local big box store. They will usually have the largest selection of products to choose from, as well as different price ranges.
If you’re not into big box stores, there are always a ton of smaller plumbing specific shops you can poke your head into. The good thing about most of these places is that where ever you go, there is usually always a person with at least a bit of expertise that can help you further on your project and answer your questions.