What to Do When a Shut-Off Valve Malfunctions

Whether you are working on a plumbing emergency or simply in the middle of working on a home improvement project, it’s never fun to discover your shut-off valve doesn’t work. What needs to be done next depends on the situation, what valve it is, and what’s wrong with the valve. Here are some tips to help you decide your next step should you have a shut-off valve malfunction.

Which Valve Is It?

Most houses have a number of shut-off valves in them, so the first thing to do is identify which valve isn’t working. Many fixtures and appliances in a home have their own shut-off valves, such as toilets, sinks, the dishwasher, and the water heater. If you’re working on one of these and the shut-off valve isn’t working, you can simply use the main shut-off valve to stop the flow of water into your home. Be sure to repair or replace the malfunctioning valve while you’re at it!


Quick DIY Repairs Tips

What happens next depends on what’s wrong with the valve and whether you have the time and/or skill to fix it. Here are a few common scenarios and what to do about them.

  • Stuck valve: If you simply can’t turn the valve, which happens often with fixture shut-offs and old-fashioned main shut-offs, you may need to spray the valve with WD-40 and give it time to lubricate before trying again. It’s recommended to turn valves on and off periodically and spray them with oil as needed to prevent being unable to close the valve in an emergency situation.
  • Partially closing valve: Sometimes you can turn the valve, but not all the way, which will result in only a partial shut off. Since it’s important to be able to shut the water completely off, you may need to replace this valve with one that works more smoothly.
  • Leaking valve: When you shut off the water, whether to a fixture or the main supply on the house, the water will often find another way out if the seal isn’t very good. Try tightening the fittings with a pair of pliers and see if that stops the leak. If not, you may have to take the valve apart and replace the washer inside, or possibly, just replace it altogether.

Call a Plumber

Repairing or replacing a shut-off valve can be challenging and dealing with a malfunctioning valve during an emergency situation makes everything even worse. If the situation is pretty critical, it may be a good idea to call in a professional. Whether you have an emergency on your hands or a less pressing repair that just needs to be done, Greenwell Plumbing’s experienced repair technicians can help you out. Call your neighborhood plumber today and we’ll get your water flowing smoothly again!