The water department left me another nasty note. This is the third water meter that this house has had in the 30 plus years that I have been here. Each time they change the meter, they tell me – and then leave the message in writing – that the gate valve just ahead of my water meter will not completely stop the flow of water. So they have to go out in the front yard and turn it off outside the house.

This does not seem like a big repair and the city is happy to come out and shut off the water for as long as I like. So I bought a new valve thinking that with my luck I would have to put in a whole new unit. But I look at the new one and sure looks like it should come apart. In fact, I don’t see how they could make this thing as one casting.

So, I take off the big red knob and put a deep socket – like maybe 3/4 on the hex and give it a tug. Nothing. So I take the thing out in the garage and put it in a vise. Get out the 1/2 breaker bar and tell the valve how serious I am about disassembly. It only laughs at me. I figure I can get the impact wrench out and break something which is always fun and can be considered progress in a way but that is not addressing the main problem.

My question is this: If I get the water turned off and then put a socket on the hex attached to the valve in the house, how much force can I exert before I bend the one inch copper pipe? My hope is that if I can disassemble this thing, I can just clean the gate part and reassemble. That would make it real easy. But, if I go to bending the house pipes, I am not going to be very happy about the whole thing. If I have to remove this valve, I will likely put in a ball valve instead. The gate seems like a good idea but clearly it will clog up and I can’t sell the place with a clogged valve.

My first thought is; what if the problem is not crud build up, but rather a pitted or eroded seat or gate. Not too sure about the removal of the bonnet nut on one that’s been in service 30+ years when you can’t get a brand new one to budge. I think if it were me I’d bite the bullet and replace it with a nice pretty new ball valve.

I bet that it did not work from day one. I bet the installer got some soldier into the gate itself. I bet that the city did not inspect the valve’s operation when I bought the house in the early 70’s brand new. The country was tanking and the home builders were in real trouble. I think the city just got out of the way and let me throw money at the problem. If I am correct, all it will take is a screwdriver and some patience if I can get the thing apart without breaking and or bending a pipe. I have sweated pipe but not one inch and not “uphill” especially with the joint being so close to the basement floor. It may come down to putting a pipe wrench on the valve to keep it from twisting the pipe and impacting away. What is live unless you risk it?