Replacing Shut-Off Valves

Last year, we had a plumbing inspection by Home Service Doctors. The plumber recommended that we replace shut-off valves. He estimated a few hundred dollars for the three that were worn out and no longer shutting off water. I declined the service because I wanted to replace all of them (eleven total) and that would have cost me at least a grant. I thought I could replace them myself.

This weekend, I decided to take on this project. After looking up YouTube for instructions, which were straightforward, I went to Home Depot to pick up 11 one-forth-turn angle valves. Saturday morning, my wife and I dropped the kids over at my sister-in-law’s house so we could shut off our main water valve. Taking off the shut-off valves were as easy it looked on YouTube. Unfortunately, the most challenging part, which did not emphasized in a few videos, was how to remove the compression sleeves. We ended up buying a compression sleeve and faucet puller. It worked for some sleeves, but not for others, especially the valves underneath the sink with pop-up drains in the way. For those, I just left the old nuts and sleeves on and just replace the valves. If I have to do it again, I would do it that way instead of trying to pull off the sleeves. Initially, I was going to replace all eleven valves, but I only did nine for the three bathrooms. Each bathroom has two valves for the sink and one for the toilet. These are the critical ones anyway. I didn’t replace the valves under the kitchen sink and the bathroom in the basement. It already took the whole day with just the three bathrooms.

After new the valves were in place, we turned the water back on and that when the horror began. Water sprayed and leaked everywhere. The project turned into a disaster. One particular valve had water came out of the pipe. I might have pulled the sleeve too hard that I cracked part of the pipe where it was soldered. It was already late into the day. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. We called it the night. We went over our my sister-in-law’s house to have dinner and to sleep. I was half dead. I couldn’t even eat dinner. My mood was gloomy. I crashed on the the sleeping bag in the living room with my kids. Fortunately, my wife was not as worried as me.

Sunday morning, I woke up with a mild headache. I did not want to continue the job. I wanted to call the a plumber, but my wife was confident that we could do it. Apparently, she did some research on repairing the pipes using SharkBite materials, which do not require soldering. Of course, I went along with her. We let the kids stayed with my mother-in-law at my sister-in-law’s house and we headed to Lowe’s to get more materials. We went back to our house and we went straight to work. I cut the the drywall where the pipe was leaked. It turned out the pipe was more complicated than we thought. It has an elbow connect to a tee fitting, which meant we have to replace both. I gave up and called the plumber guy who used to remodeled my sister-in-law’s bathrooms. Unfortunately, he was unavailable. My wife went back to Lowe’s to pick up more materials to replace both the elbow and the tee while I stayed home tried to tighten up the screws as much as I could to stop the leaks. After tighten up the one with the leaking pipe, I turn the water on to test and to my surprise there was no leak. The pipe never cracked. The leaked was from the screw, but the water shot out too strong that it gave the impression the the pipe was leaked. My mood changed immediately. My headache was gone. I couldn’t wait to tell my wife the good news.

When she came back from Lowe’s, she also brought back a few SharkBite’s shut-off valves so we can try out. With the two valves that I could not get the leak to go away, I took them out and replaced the with SharkBite’s. When she installed SharkBite’s valves, I was amazed how simple it was. She simply marked the copper pipe and pushed the valve all the way in to meet the mark and that was it. There was no leaking and no tightening. If I could have done this project all over again, I would just go with SharkBite’s valve. It saves time and hassle. Actually, I did come across in my research about the SharkBite, but I ignored it. It seemed too good to be true. Now I am beating myself up for not considering it.

Once again, my wife saved the day. This lady is amazing. When I am pessimistic, she’s optimistic. With our next project, I will run by her first before I do anything. I told her, I am just going to be her machinery—a pretty bad one. Nevertheless, I’ll just do whatever she tells me to do. Unlike me, she does much better research and she does not feel down when things go wrong.

We dodged another bullet. I thought it would be a disaster, but it turned out fine. I truly despise house maintenance. It takes time away from my days off to relax. It also takes time away from our kids. I told my wife that for next project we will contract out, but she wanted me to do it and we will include the kids so they can learn to do as well. They need to learn how to do fix things around the house. It will be beneficial to them. I have to agree with her. In retrospect, I could have learned so much from my dad. He built houses, theaters, and temples before he retired. And yet, I know nothing about construction or house maintenance.