Shutoff Valves - Replace Them!
If it's been many years since you've remodeled, you might not even be aware of the numerous shutoff valves that control water flow to the various fixtures in your home. Theoretically, every sink, toilet, or hose faucet should have a shut off valve near by - this is so that you can stop the flow of water to these fixtures in the event that you need to service or replace them, or in the case of hose bibs, shut the flow off and drain the pipe for the winter.
Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, these valves are forgotten about and left unused for years, or even decades. What often happens is that the internals of the valves seize up and rubber o rings and seals dry out, and this causes the valve to not work properly when you eventually need to turn it. Sometimes the valve will be seized in the open position, while other times they leak after being closed. In either case, this is completely unacceptable as the requirements of a typical residential remodeling project dictate that control is needed at these fixtures. If a contractor is unable to turn the water off at the fixture, then he will have to turn it off where it enters the house, and this has obvious implications for people living in the home, especially if the water needs to be shut off for more than an hour or two.
In cases where a kitchen or bathroom renovation project is completed, it is often the case that sinks, toilets, and dishwashers will be removed and replaced. This means that it is critical to have these shutoff valves functioning properly, so that faucets and appliances can be removed and replaced safely without resulting in water damage to the home. I can't tell you how many times I have attempted to turn one of these valves only to see that it dripped slowly and leaked after having been closed for the first time in many years. This is why I am not a fan of these old multi turn shut-off valves, like you see in the photo above. If I see these during a quote or consultation, and it looks like they are corroded and haven't been used in years, I make a note of it and plan to have it replaced by a licensed and certified plumber before my work begins. It makes sense for the contractor - reducing the risk of leaks during the time that a project is completed, and it makes sense for the homeowner - giving them peace of mind and a quality installation at their home.
I like to see these old multi turn valves replaced with high quality, quarter turn ball valves. A quarter turn shut off valve needs only a quarter of a turn, like the name implies, to open or close. This is in contrast to a gate style valve that needs multiple turns of the handle to fully open or close. In addition to this, I have had a very good experience with the reliability and durability of ball valves. Even after many years of not being used, I have yet to see a ball valve leak, unlike multi-turn valves. Of course, where these valves are replaced, it often makes sense to replace old supply lines with new ones of the flexible stainless steel variety. It is cheap insurance and adds to the overall quality of the job, improving customer satisfaction.
Tremendous Tile Installations Inc. is in business to deliver high quality, high value jobs to all of our clients. This is why we will have a licensed and insured plumber on site to replace these old valves - if your contractor ignores these details, it is probably a good idea to get a second opinion.