Water turn-off valves are installed to provide an easy way to turn off the water and allow you to work on your plumbing. They are also an easy way to stop leaks; allowing you to turn off the water and assess the problem. However, mineral deposits can make these water turn-off valves difficult to operate.
If you can’t easy turn your shut-off valve with your hand, mineral deposits are probably to blame. Try this fix to loosen a stuck water turn-off valve, but plan on keeping your valve in good condition by giving it a turn to the off position, and then back to the on position, every few months. This will help break up future mineral deposits, lessening the chance that the water turn-off valve will become stuck again.
Step 1: Place a bucket underneath the water shut-off valve to catch any water that may leak from that area.
Step 2: Use an adjustable wrench to tightly grip the nut between the handle of the water shut-off valve and the pipe itself. This nut is called the packing nut.
Step 3: Turn the nut slowly counterclockwise while using your other hand to turn the handle of the water valve clockwise. Only turn the packing nut slightly during this time.
Step 4: Now turn the nut clockwise without rotating the handle of the shut off valve. Do not over tighten.
Step 5: Turn the shut-off valve back to its original location. Keep the bucket underneath the shut off valve and check for leaks for the next few days. If you notice a small leak, tighten the packing nut another turn clockwise until the leak stops.
TIP: If you often have difficulties with your shut off valves, as well as other problems that could be attributed to hard water and the resulting mineral deposits, consider installing a softener to minimize the problem. Although a water softener can represent a significant investment, it will prevent wear and tear on your pipes and plumbing fixtures. Have your water tested for its exact mineral content before deciding if a water softener makes sense for your home.