Ball valves and gate valves

The Tank Ball valves and gate valves

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    Randy Schuyler

    All water heaters have a cold-water shutoff valve and some also have one on the hot side. There may be other valves on surrounding plumbing.

    There are two types: ball valves and gate valves. Either kind can fail to open or close when you need it, but ball valves are more reliable. Oodles of people, however, have gate valves. Often, though, valves are installed and not touched again until someone needs to shut off the water. By then, they often don’t work.

    To ensure that this does not happen, close and then open the valve, of either type, once a year. Open and shut all the way; don’t leave them half open.

    My mentor, Larry Weingarten, who posts often here, has a trick he likes to use: he backs off the packing nut, wraps Teflon around the stem and then retightens the nut to keep water from leaking there.

    If gate valves suffer dezincification, the stem can snap off. Ball valves are better but in all cases, it’s important to buy from a reputable maker. This post with a picture, has also been added to Quick.

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