Tip: Gate Valve and Stopcock Maintenance

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Exercise your gate valves at least once a year. You don't want to have to un-seize them in an emergency! Simply screw the valve completely off, then open it fully again. If a valve won't shut off, try giving the body lots of sharp taps (don't hit it hard). This may free the shaft(spindle) and gate (the shaped brass bit which actually shuts off water) from the body. If that doesn't work, try heating the body with a hair drier. Turn the handle of the valve before the body cools. Lastly try using a stilsons or pipe wrench on the handle of the valve to get extra leverage. Use e.g. a vise grips on the body of the valve to exert a counter force. This reduces stress on connected pipework. Don't use excessive force on the handle as you can quite possibly wring the shaft of the valve.

Checkout my guide for valve locations in the home here:


t gate valve stopcock maintnance, fences
  5 answers
  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Jan 15, 2017
    Thank you for sharing this!
  • William William on Jan 16, 2017
    Great tip! Nobody thinks of doing this until there is a problem and the valve is seized. In comes a bill from a plumber =:( Just like draining at least a gallon of water from the hot water heater every month. This gets any sediment out at the bottom of the tank and makes it work better and last longer.
  • Hillela G. Hillela G. on Jan 16, 2017
    I would not have thought of this, thank you!!!!
  • Fre11842518 Fre11842518 on Jan 16, 2017
    Good idea but don’t forget the shut off valves under each sink in the home (and the ones for each shower or Bath Tub) and by each toilet.
  • Bob Bob on Jan 17, 2017
    I`m used to working with all types of valves from gate ,ball and steam valves. What you see on tv and the films is a load of tosh ,no maintenance engineer closes any valve or opens any valve to its full extent and locks it in that postition, What we do is fully open a valve and then turn it back slightly off the lock postition,the same if you close a valve. There are 2 reasons for doing this , First ,you know which postition the valve is either open or closed, Second. you don`t end up trying to lever the valve with tools which can easily break the valve shaft.
    Another tit bit ,open the valve fully and put a tiny bit of vasaline where the shaft enters the valve,then operate the valve a few times,this lubricates the valve seals and stops them drying out if not used very often.