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Rising Water Level - Leaky ball valve?

I think I have diagnosed my rising water level to a leaky ball valve on my feed line. Here are a few important details:

1. Manual feed only, 1/2" ball valve.

2. Recently had piping moved on the water side of the ball valve (not boiler side) because the cold water line was resting against the steam main (knuckleheads).

So, my questions are: is it possible that the resoldering of the lines ahead of the valve could have contaminated and damaged the ball valve? Or was it just the valves time to go? If it was the resoldering, how do I get the plumber to fix it for free? Tried calling them to make an appointment, they want to charge a fee for visiting and will probably say they didn't install the valve so it's not on them.

In the past two weeks I've removed about 8 gallons of water because my water line crept up to above the sight glass! I would empty it to 1/2 full, then catch it before it got above the sight again. I have NOT been adding water for at least the past 2 weeks, most likely longer, though I can only guarantee the past 2 weeks.

I don't think that there could be that much water stored in the system could there? This is not the first time I've pulled 8 gallons or more from the system either.

Thanks for all your help!


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,212
    It is quite possible

    that if that valve is a sweat type, and if it was unsoldered and resoldered during the work, the seals could have been damaged.  Proving it is dang near impossible.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,433
    Where is it coming from.

    Any valve can fail without notice. One test that might confirm the leaky ball balve is to feel the pipe a few inches above and below the valve, if both are really cold water is flowing through that pipe (at this time of year the water is really cold). If the pipe feels like it is about the same temperature as any other nearby metal water is not flowing through the valve.

    Does this boiler have a coil in it to heat your domestic hot water? If it does you might have a pinhole in that coil that is leaking water into the boiler.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    No Coil in Boiler

    Thanks everyone. I have a separate water heater for my hot water, the boiler just heats the house. I'll try the temperature trick. If I can't tell, then I think I might just go get a few shark bite fittings, if the water still rises, then I obviously had a different problem, though I'm pretty convinced it is the valve at this point. I might just wait until the spring to fix it as well. Not sure I want to rely on the shark bites to keep my basement from flooding. I have no experience with them, nor have I ever sweat pipes before.
  • lza
    lza Member Posts: 40
    ball valves


    Ball valves are less likely to leak by than say a gate valve, or a globe valve because ball valves have a teflon seat.  But if it was sweat in without being wrapped in a wet rag, then the teflon seat probably got fried.  If it was a plumbing contractor that installed it, I would cut out the valve, tear apart the valve, and if the teflon seat is damaged, let them know that you won't accept shoddy workmanship.  Also make sure they put in a decent brand like Nibco or Red & White. 

    I would personally never use a Sharkbite fitting unless it was temporary.  If you have someone show you how to solder, its relatively easy to pick up. 
  • McSwiggin
    McSwiggin Member Posts: 37
    Ball Valve

    Thanks Iza. The soldering that the plumber did was about 2.5' to 3' from the valve, so I don't think it was the heat that damaged it. I think the plumber got some contamination into the pipe (old solder?) that then went into the valve, which then could have damaged the teflon seat. Thanks for the info about the teflon seat btw, I didn't know that was how they worked. Hopefully the leak doesn't get worse so I can old off until a warm day, then find someone to show me how to solder. Actually, I have some pipe and fittings laying around. I suppose youtube and some practice might be in my future.

    If it were contamination into the valve, should the plumber replace it labor free? I'd just have to prove it.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,826
    edited December 2013

    Ball valves aren't as sensitive to contamination as globe or gate valves. The ball is pressed firmly against the seat, and the ports slide into place instead of being pushed into the seats, so they can't press debris into the seat. The only thing that can do them in is a piece of wire or string that can get caught in the seat when the valve is closed.

    I've seen a lot of them damaged by heat, but the usually leak around the lever.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
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