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Sharkbite Brass Ball Valve Push Fit

A few years back, my wife woke me up in the middle of the night to the sound of water running in the basement. She immediately awaked me (a sound sleeper) with her cry of alarm. I’m thinking, “Just great,” but put on my robe and trudged downstairs to investigate.

The basement floor was partially covered with water!

So I immediately located the main water shutoff valve in the basement, and the problem was temporarily resolved.

The following morning, the wife complained about no water in the bathroom, so I figured that it would be a good idea to resolve the problem (plumbing problems…”fun”).

I opened the main valve again to locate the source of the breakage, to discover that it was in one of the most inconvenient spots it could be: inside the masonry foundation wall. Apparently, the old iron pipe section leading from inside the basement to garden hose faucet outside had rusted out over time. [I always shut off the hose valve on the interior side prior to winter, so freezing was not the problem.]

Here’s where the fun began (the joys of owning an older home)…

Problem was, there was only but about 8 inches of working room where the old gate valve (probably 60 years old) went from copper to iron pipe. All of the interior basement piping had been replaced with copper, but there was that old section where it went from copper to iron on the upstream side of the old gate valve. From the downstream side, it was the original old iron section, which had to be replaced with a new section, of course.

In that the old bronze gate valve took up less space than a modern ball valve—which would require a pipe union coupler for installation—there was simply not enough space to do all of this. And you cannot solder (sweat joint) adjacent to a ball valve because you burn the seals.

So, enter the more recent Sharkbite valve! This is completely solderless, and makes a water-tight seal on adjoining copper pipe (and other types of water pipe) sections.

This looks “too-good-to-be-true,” yet is used by professional plumbers. And it’s so easy that even an everyday handyman can install it. Mine has been installed for going on 4 years, and not one drop of moisture has appeared at the joints.

Just be sure to carefully follow the installation instructions, and you should enjoy trouble-free service from this new convention. Ensure that the copper ends that you will slip into the valve are free of burrs and that your pipe cuts are flush. Also, make sure that you pre-plan so that there is enough copper on either end of the valve to fully seat to the stops inside. [Follow the directions that come with the product.]

Once connected, the valve rotates freely and, prior to being stabilized with piping, feels a bit on the sloppy side. But don’t let this worry you, this is normal.

As a general word of caution, it is a good idea to shut off the main water entrance valve (from the street to your home) anytime you are going to be away for a while. Had the leak in my basement occurred while we were away for a week or so vacation, we would have returned to a flooded basement!

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