Is it possible to replace old plumbing parts?

I had to detach the hot water line from the washing machine for another project, and the really old, broken knob could not turn the water on or off properly. The tap slowly dripped no matter how tightly I turned it off. When I turned it back on more than a little bit, it leaked from the knob. Does the whole thing need to be replaced or can I just replace pieces of this old thing?
is it possible to replace old plumbing parts, plumbing
  11 answers
  • You have a gate valve. The seat inside the valve is corroded with hardness which is why it still drips once you turn it off. The harder you try to tighten it the worse it can become as it distorts the gate that comes down when you turn the handle. So that part cannot be fixed. The leak around the stem on the valve however can be fixed. There is a little nut just below the handle, not the seat nut which would remove the entire guts of the valve but the one that is higher. If you turn this up and unscrew it so it comes off of the threads, you can purchase packing string at the local hardware store and wrap it a few times around the stem, then re-screw the nut back on. As you tighten this nut the packing will seal the stem from dripping. Quite often then not you can get away with just tightening this nut without even repacking it. But doing it that way makes it much harder to turn the knob. If you have really old handles and they are hard to turn, loosen these nuts a bit and you will be amazed on how easy they become to turn. You will however need to change the valve to stop it from dripping when the hose is disconnected. Buy a new handle also when your at the store. The pliers destroyed the one you have.

  • Great explanation from Woodbridge. All of this is true and doable. If you want to upgrade your valves and drain setup, you could have the old valves removed and have your existing copper pipes attached to a manufactured supply and drain box with ball valves that avoid all of the before mentioned challenges. Ball valves do not suffer from the challenges that ultimately destroy older style valves such as gate valves or washer seat valves. If you don't have the skills required you will need to hire a professional to install the new set up, but it will be worth the expense.

  • 3po3 3po3 on Feb 10, 2012
    Thanks guys. So do you have a ballpark of what it might cost to have someone replace it all with the new setup?

  • I'm not sure on the cost, but by the looks of your photo you have copper plumbing, so the work should be simple. the plumber should be able to do this work in an hour or two at the most. The parts are not expensive. Make a few calls to some licensed plumbers for costs. You might have some drywall repair to do afterwards. You will be much happier with the finished results.

  • $1,00,000.00 if you do it yourself. As you know your wife will end up having the whole room renovated along with new machines to match the new fancy valve. But a single handle shut off valve will run around $35. The box shown in the photo from Homework costs around $25. You will need some copper pipe, or as I use now PEX tubing the rest of the material doing it yourself will cost around $60. A plumber will pay about the same, but charge you somewhere around $250 for the labor. Some more some less.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 11, 2012
    steve you might try tightening up the "stem packing nut" this may stop the leak around the valve stem...the part the handle connects too.

  • 3po3 3po3 on Feb 11, 2012
    Woodbridge, I am very lucky man. The wife is not big on spending all our money remodeling everything. Plus, this is a fairly new washer stuffed in the utility closet. Really nothing to renovate. KMS, I will try that. Thanks. I've installed faucets , but I'm pretty clueless about plumbing in general.

  • 3po3 3po3 on Feb 13, 2012
    So I followed KMS' advice and tightened that stem packing nut a little bit. It stopped the leak and everything works fine. As Woodbridge noted, I couldn't do anything to stop the leak when I tried to shut it off, but I just put the other end of the washer line in a bucket while I worked on the flooring in the utility closet where the washer lives.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Feb 14, 2012
    glad to hear it Steve

  • 3po3 3po3 on Feb 14, 2012
    Yeah, I feel silly now asking this question when there was such a simple and obvious answer, but that's what I love about Hometalk. Y'all politely and expertly answer even the silliest questions.

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jul 07, 2012
    And I love all the questions, I may not know what you all are talking about, but I store "where to find" up in my noodle somewhere, in case I ever need to come back for some good info!