The toilet shut-off valve may get little, if any, use; all the while, its rubber washers may dry rot. Just a slight turn can then cause the valve to leak. The first indication of a problem often occurs only when the toilet stops working, adding more frustration to ongoing repairs. Fortunately, you may not need a plumber to replace this valve.
What to Do First
To start, turn off the main shutoff valve in your home. Then drain the pipes by opening a faucet below the level of the toilet. Otherwise, water left in the pipe may gush out into your bathroom. The supply tube must then be removed from the faulty valve. For this, you’ll need to use a crescent wrench to remove the bolt holding the valve and supply line together.
Remove the Old Valve
How you proceed depends on the type of connection that was used to install the existing valve. These may include:
- Compression Valve: Is held in place by a hexagonal compression nut. There may be matching hex flats on the valve body near the compression nut or two flats on the side of the valve body. Holding the pipe with a pair of pliers, unscrew the bolt with a crescent wrench. You can then disconnect the old valve from the pipe and throw away the nut and compression rings.
- Sweat Shutoff Valve: Is connected by a copper pipe, which you’ll need to cut with a tube cutter, as close to the old valve as possible. Tighten and rotate the pipe cutter until it cuts clean through the metal. There should be enough pipe extending from the wall to install the new fitting.
- Threaded Valve: If there are threads and flex hats at the junction point between the steel pipe and valve, then it is a threaded fitting. The pipe is typically copper or galvanized. Another threaded valve must be used to replace it.
Prepare for Installation
Use an emery cloth to clean the exposed tubing. Sand off any solder left behind if replacing a sweat valve with a compression valve, and then install the new escutcheon, nut, and sleeve. If installing a new sweat valve, remove enough solder for the new part to slide onto the pipe. After removing the stem and wire brush on the new quarter-turn valve, apply flux and heat the valve until the solder is drawn in. Wipe away excess solder as it melts, using a damp rag.
*IF SOLDERING, WEAR LEATHER GLOVES AND PLACE A FLAME PROTECTION CLOTH OVER THE WALL.
If installing a threaded-style valve, use a wire brush to thoroughly clean seal tape off the threads. Then wrap new thread seal tape around them. Alternatively, you can use a pipe thread compound. If installing a push-to-connect valve, use a sanding cloth to clean the pipe, making sure its surfaces are smooth and clean.
Installing the New Toilet Shut Off Valve
- Compression-Style Valve: Debur any sharp edges on the copper pipe with a deburring tool (not necessary for PVC pipe). Slide the compression nut onto the pipe with the threads facing you. Push the compression ring onto the tube and slide the new valve over the pipe as far as it’ll go (make sure the valve’s outlet is facing upward). Then tighten the compression nut by hand onto the valve input and hold the valve body with one crescent wrench and tighten the nut with another.
- Solder-Type Valve: Place the valve onto the pipe and twist it to distribute the flux. To prevent the internal washer from melting, move the valve into the open position. Start heating the fitting with a propane torch; apply solder to the joint when the flux starts bubbling, using ½ inch of solder for every ½ inch of pipe diameter. Using a dry cloth, wipe excess solder from the joint before the solder dries.
- Thread-Style Valve: Hand-tighten the valve onto the pipe. To fully tighten the assembly, hold the pipe with a pipe wrench and tighten the valve with an adjustable wrench. Be careful not to overtighten the valve, as this can cause it to crack.
- Push-to-Connect Valve: The valve should fit squarely and evenly onto the pipe. Continue until the valve bottoms out and pull gently to ensure it is locked. The internal mechanism will then provide a watertight seal. For a no-tool solution, a quarter-turn push-fit ball-style valve can be used in place of sweat and compression fittings (if there’s enough tubing projecting from the wall).
Restore the Water Supply
To complete the installation, re-attach the water supply lines and turn on the water at the main water valve. Turn the toilet shut off valve counterclockwise to loosen it. Water should start filling the toilet tank; while it is, check for any leaks around the new valve. If so, shut off the water, empty the lines, and remove the valve’s compression nut. Then add plumbers’ tape or putty to the valve threads and reinstall it before checking the connection again.
Contact a Professional Plumber for Help
If you run into any issues when replacing a toilet shut off valve, Sky Heating & Air Conditioning can provide any repairs needed or assist you in installing a new valve. Some systems are old and require additional steps to successfully replace. Our plumbing technicians have helped countless customers throughout the Portland area. To request service, schedule a visit online or call 888-627-1257 today.