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Street side / House side shutoff valves for house water main

Squidstro
Squidstro Member Posts: 54
I have a house built in 1980 and my water main entrance gate valve is all seized up and hard to operate. Several plumbers recommended I replace it. They put a secondary ball valve shutoff in the house in the meantime.

Here is a diagram of my water entrance:


I need to have the water company shut off my curb box so that broken main valve can be replaced. My secondary ball valve shutoff is in the utility room in the house just at the other end of that "To House" pipe. So it can shutoff water to my entire house with the exception of that front hose bibb valve which needs the main valve shut off if you want to replace it.

So I need to call a plumber to replace my main valve but here are questions I have:
  1. I read that house water mains should have a street side, and house side shutoff valve on either side of that water meter. What's the purpose of having 2? Is it required? Suggested? Do you find it overkill?
  2. Based on the diagram you see, do you think the meter has to be moved to the right to fit a house side shut off valve?
The jobs I want are that main valve replaced with a ball valve, a house side ball valve shutoff added if you guys convince me, the hose bibb valve replaced with a ball valve (it's seized and old), and the hose bibb itself replaced (it's leaking).

Thoughts, comments, questions. Thanks!
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Comments

  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,650
    Qualifier - I'm not a plumber (heating contractor). The purpose of a valve on each side of the meter is for service and/or replacement and it makes perfect sense.
    Author - Hard Knocks: My Life Inside Boiler Rooms
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/minnich-hydronic-consulting-and-design
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,178
    Where I am at, and in a lot of places, there has to be a check valve installed after the meter as backflow prevention. In that case, a valve is not usually installed after the meter. In your case, I would.
    Rick
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,532
    Maybe I'm wrong, but shouldn't there be a bonding wire connecting both sides of the meter?

    I see what appears to be a ground wire going to the supply side of the meter, but nothing connecting to the house side.


    Valves on both sides of the meter is so the water co can swap the meter without the entire house's worth of piping dumping down all over them. It's also handy if you have a problem and the supply side valve doesn't work.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    So it seems everyone is recommending a valve on either side of the meter. That being said, from the diagram do you think a house side valve can fit? Or do you think the meter may have to move right a little and the street side valve possibly go vertically on that supply pipe?
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    Here is a diagram of my water supply in the utility room (after the run under the slab). You can see the secondary shutoff which is a ball valve and what's used for house shutoff maintenance now (instead of the main valve since it's hard to operate)


    I also need that hose bibb shutoff valve replaced. All these old compression style valves from 1980 are all seized and operate very poorly. Ideally I'd like all these compression valves modernized with ball valves.

    For now I'm starting with the house main and the hose bibs. Once I get good shutoff valves in those spots, the rest will follow eventually.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,532
    Is that a shark bite valve!?!?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    ^ it looks like the ball valve you're currently using for your main domestic water cutoff is a "shark bite" type slip on valve.
    That would make me uncomfortable.
    I understand why it's there since your street side valve is failing and it would make soldering in a house side valve difficult- but once you get the street valve replaced- replace the "shark bite" valve with a sweat or threaded valve.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,532
    There are also other ways to replace a main valve without having the water company come out.

    For example :
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Canucker
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,519
    I don't know why the water company has to come out. At least here, virtually every licensed plumber carries a extended square head wrench and they can take the cover off at the street, drop that wrench down and shut the water off at the main. The plumbing supply house I patronize even sells those wrenches. They are about 6 ft. to 8 ft. long.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,532
    Fred said:

    I don't know why the water company has to come out. At least here, virtually every licensed plumber carries a extended square head wrench and they can take the cover off at the street, drop that wrench down and shut the water off at the main. The plumbing supply house I patronize even sells those wrenches. They are about 6 ft. to 8 ft. long.

    I suppose it depends on the area.
    In my area, I own from the curb shutoff to the water meter but not that shutoff and as far as I know, no one is allowed to touch that shutoff except the water company.

    I also don't own the meter.

    Curious Fred, how do you know what virtually every licensed plumber carries, did you take a survey? :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    Yeah, my water company requires that their techs do it. Of course I could do it or my plumber can. I know where the box is. But it's owned by the water company and they require their techs do it. That does make it a pain in the ****.

    While we're on this topic, who's going to tell me to break the rules and forget about the water company? >:)
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    NY_Rob said:

    ^ it looks like the ball valve you're currently using for your main domestic water cutoff is a "shark bite" type slip on valve.
    That would make me uncomfortable.
    I understand why it's there since your street side valve is failing and it would make soldering in a house side valve difficult- but once you get the street valve replaced- replace the "shark bite" valve with a sweat or threaded valve.

    Regarding the posts about my secondary valve being a "shark bite valve" - I don't know. I'm not a plumber. But I'll take your word for it. I do take an interest in DIY plumbing so I know what a sweat vs. thread vs. compression connections are.

    A plumber who did a repair job that needed the water off installed that shark bite valve as a courtesy because he knew the main gate valve was in trouble and should definitely be replaced. He obviously got the water off via that gate valve so he could put that shark bite valve on. But it's all corroded and difficult to operate and needs to be replaced.

    Now I must ask, what's wrong with shark bite's push-fit connection system? What makes sweat or thread connections better? Is this old school preference? Or do you have proof that push-fit connections are bad for some reason?
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,745
    I think the issue is that we don't yet have proof that shark bite style fittings aren't bad. The threaded fittings from 200 years ago are reliable, the sweat fittings from 75 years ago are reliable, but the shark bites from 5 years ago? Uhhhhh, let's check again in a few decades.

    Many of us wonder about the life expectancy of the o-rings that form the primary seal of the shark bites. How long did your last set of windshield wipers last?

    That said, your use is the right application of a shark bite fitting--a quick, easy, temporary fix, to be replaced at a more auspicious time.

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,519
    edited May 2016
    Curious Fred, how do you know what virtually every licensed plumber carries, did you take a survey? :)
    I guess that is somewhat presumptuous, on my part but I know a few plumbers and they all have that wrench and tell me it is typical for licensed plumbers to have them. I also had a new water line run from the street into my basement last year and that plumber shut the water off at the street, did the install (used a line hammer, starting in the basement and let it drive itself to the hole they opened at the edge of my front yard), set a new meter, in a buried meter box in the yard and when he was done, he turned the water back on. I too just own the water line from the new meter into my house but the city owns the meter and the line from the street shut-off to the new meter. I might add that the city subcontracts meter replacements to several local plumbing companies anyway, at least during the past 2 or 3 years as they upgrade meters for remote reading and move as many as they can from inside to outside. One more note, my nephew works for the city water dept. He is one of the guys that goes out and turns the water off at the street when the HO hasn't paid their bill. The city has a fairly small crew to handle isolated cases of turning water on and/or off when bills haven't been paid or when a house has been vacant or has a new owner (they just read the meter in the case of a new HO). In our city, water bill stays with the house, not the user so it must be read and addressed at closing.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    The official Town policy here is nobody touches the curb stop except the Town employees.

    Every plumber, handyman, and commercial multi-tenant building maintenance guy I know has both a key for the meter can lids and a wrench for the stop. The Town guys know who we are. We call them when we can, but we're not going to stand around watching an entire neighborhood flood while we wait for one of them to show up.
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    My water company is private sector, not town based. They have their own techs that work 24 hours (they claim). You call a customer service number and they dispatch a tech to toggle your curb box.

    My curb box is actually 177 feet away from my house main. It's on my neighbor's property. And visible from a county road with plenty of traffic.

    I'm sure I can walk over there, lift the lid, and toggle that shutoff with a steel curb key. But it's against the rules of my water company and like others said on here, that curb box is owned by them.

    They said I own the pipe from the curb box onward to my home. They do own the meter in my house, but everything else is mine and my responsibility.

    I no doubt hate the fact that I have to call a tech for water off, then again for water on. That seems very inconvenient with coordinating with a plumber's time and the amount of time my home's water supply will be off while people are home.
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    edited May 2016

    Qualifier - I'm not a plumber (heating contractor). The purpose of a valve on each side of the meter is for service and/or replacement and it makes perfect sense.

    I'm still not clear why you need a valve on the house side of the meter. If you want to do maintenance on the meter, you can shut off the street side valve and drain the house water out of the pipes to minimize backflow during maintenance. That's exactly what I have now from 1980 construction and that meter is not the original one. So the water company put in that new meter with my current setup (which doesn't have a house side shut off).

    So can someone clarify the purpose of the house side shutoff please?

    Where I am at, and in a lot of places, there has to be a check valve installed after the meter as backflow prevention. In that case, a valve is not usually installed after the meter. In your case, I would.
    Rick

    rick in Alaska, I don't really understand. What's backflow prevention and why in my case don't I need it? And why is the recommendation for me to put a house side valve?
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    edited May 2016
    ChrisJ said:

    There are also other ways to replace a main valve without having the water company come out.

    For example :

    ChrisJ, interesting video. But how do you sweat a ball valve within inches of that freeze without causing a problem? And is this even something your average plumber carries or does? Seems very technical. Seems like my only option would be to put a Shark Bite valve or threaded valve with no chance of pipe sweating.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,519
    edited May 2016
    And why is the recommendation for me to put a house side valve?
    Since you are going to have the water off anyway, why wouldn't you want a shut-off on the house side? It makes any future meter replacement much easier, without water running out of the house side of you plumbing, especially if you had a finished basement. You might also want to check you local code requirements. I suspect they now require you to have a house side shut-off, so it may be a moot discussion. If, by chance they don't require it, it's your call but I would certainly do it. It's a minimal added cost and saves a lot of hassle the next time the meter has to be changed out. In reality, you do already have a house side shut-off. It just happens to be in your utility room instead of next to you meter. That is probably fine as is.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,532
    Squidstro said:

    ChrisJ said:

    There are also other ways to replace a main valve without having the water company come out.

    For example :

    ChrisJ, interesting video. But how do you sweat a ball valve within inches of that freeze without causing a problem? And is this even something your average plumber carries or does? Seems very technical. Seems like my only option would be to put a Shark Bite valve or threaded valve with no chance of pipe sweating.

    That would be a question for Gerry Gill as he is the one that made the video:smile: Sadly, I don't think I can tag him on here but he does frequent the forum.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    Squidstro said:

    ...I don't really understand. What's backflow prevention and why in my case don't I need it?

    It may not be required (yet) by your municipality, but....
    Imagine you were filling your fish pond with a garden hose and the tip of the hose was sitting on the bottom of the pond. At the same time- the water authority needs to perform maintenance on your street and shuts off the water supply which creates a negative pressure condition at your supply entrance. Now your pond water now gets pulled back into the street supply then possibly fed back as drinking water to you or your neighbor once normal water pressure has been re-established.
    Contaminated water from your lawn sprinkler system, pool, etc... can also get in the neighborhood water supply the same way.
    A backflow valve on your side of the mains will prevent that from happening.

    Many boiler installs also include backflow prevention valves so the makeup water doesn't get into the domestic supply during a reverse flow condition.

    Here's something from Watts on it:
    http://media.wattswater.com/F-DCV.pdf
    SWEI
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,178
    It looks like you do have a house side shutoff valve installed already, if indeed that is the valve that is in the other picture, so you should be good.
    Now, to all the others: What makes a shark bite valve or fitting any different than a propress style fitting. One is squeezed on to the pipe, the other uses stainless teeth. Both use o-rings for the seal (which does still make me uneasy). I figure that if Iapmo approves them, and they are a very restrictive organization, then they must be ok.
    Rick
    Hilly
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,532
    edited May 2016

    It looks like you do have a house side shutoff valve installed already, if indeed that is the valve that is in the other picture, so you should be good.
    Now, to all the others: What makes a shark bite valve or fitting any different than a propress style fitting. One is squeezed on to the pipe, the other uses stainless teeth. Both use o-rings for the seal (which does still make me uneasy). I figure that if Iapmo approves them, and they are a very restrictive organization, then they must be ok.
    Rick

    You said it not me.

    Now to answer the question about difference, one is pressed on with very little pressure on the O ring. The other is crimped on very tightly.

    I personally feel both will fail over time. Many disagree and that's ok.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    NY_Rob said:

    Squidstro said:

    ...I don't really understand. What's backflow prevention and why in my case don't I need it?

    Many boiler installs also include backflow prevention valves so the makeup water doesn't get into the domestic supply during a reverse flow condition.
    So a backflow prevention valve isn't a shut off valve I take it? It just prevents backflow of water automatically?
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Right, it's basically a check valve (or two, possibly more, depending on the particular design and requirements.)
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    Ok so I heard a few of you recommend to not bother with a house-side shut off because the shark bite valve in my utility room is essentially that. But then you older school guys still don't put your faith in that shark bite valve. I say, it's worked great for a few years, has no leaks or issues, and once I get a nice new reliable ball valve on the house entrance, then I'll have a reliable way to replace that shark bite valve in the future. Instead of incurring more plumber cost to replace a perfectly fine shark bite valve just because my buddies are old school and worried ;)

    As for that main gate valve replacement job, what are the highest quality quarter turn ball valves that I could have my plumber put in place of that gate valve so I can live the rest of my life never having to worry about calling the water company :)
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
    With a curb stop, I don't see the need for another valve upstream of the meter. My water department came out, at no charge, and shut the curb stop so I could replace the valve just downstream of the meter - at no charge. The guy gave me his cell number to call him back when I had the valve replaced - and then stayed while I made sure there were no leaks.

    You will need to set up a time for them to come and shut the curb stop. In my case, they actually came the day before to make sure that the curb stop wasn't stuck and would turn.

    As far as the best ball valve to install, I would go with a name brand, U.S. made - such as Mueller B&K or Apollo. Use a valve that is lead free.
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    Good post MikeSpeed6030

    I feel better about the water company call now. I was wondering all of that (how you get them back, what if there's a leak, what if something is wrong with the curb box valve, etc.) - you answered it all.

    My worry with turning the box off is that you're on the clock and my home has no water. There's 3 bodies in that house with plenty of water chores to be done (laundry, dish washing, hygiene, etc). So I wouldn't be comfortable with the water off for 24 hours. I'd rather have it off as little as it needs to be for a plumber to just get that main valve on, then get the water back on ASAP. Then all other jobs can be coordinated off that main valve shut off and not the water company.
  • Squidstro
    Squidstro Member Posts: 54
    I guess, MikeSpeed6030, you didn't mean that it was off for a day - you just mean they came a day before to see if that valve in the curb box even operates. Mine, personally, probably hasn't been shut off since 1980. What are the odds that valve is going to be problematic? I guess if it is, it's the water company's issue to fix.

    Out of curiosity, how the hell would they fix their curb box valve below the street? How do they do maintenance on underground equipment short of major construction projects and water main shutoffs?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,519
    If they're like most municipalities, they don't do maintenance on those shut-offs. They just wait till they have a problem. We have some around her (like my own) that hadn't been shut off in probably 50 or 60 years but it worked fine last year when I had a new line run into the house. They usually blow all the dirt out of the runway that goes down to the shut-off before they try to turn it. If they have a problem, it usually entails a backhoe and some digging. Don't see that often, at least not around here. I think you may be over thinking this project. Let the Municipality do their job and your plumber do his. All will be fine. :)
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
    The curb stop would have been shut the last time they changed the meter. Our house is 60+ years old, but the water meter is much newer. It has the capability to be read remotely, from outside. The original water meter would have required the meter reader to enter the house and go down the basement.

    (The present meter is still in the basement, but there is an electrical cable that runs to a black box on the exterior wall of the house.) Also, I think that it is standard practice every so often for meters to be replaced with new ones or with meters that have been calibrated back in the shop.

    If you are going to hire a plumber anyway, why not let him coordinate directly with the water company? No need for you to be in the middle.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,121
    Hello: It seems a good time to show a photo of a leaking Sharkbite fitting. This one caused tens of thousands in damage in a home. Things like this make for conservative plumbers!


    Yours, Larry
    ChrisJ
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 288
    A " house side " shut off / isolation valve will help prevent siphoning of tank type water heaters.
    Mueller and Ford make very reliable compression water service fittings for copper and poly water main piping. I would suggest installing a new ball valve on the vertical portion of the water main piping shown in the first picture posted...............
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,529
    The major cost of this project is getting someone out to do it. A would not squabble about the expense of a ball valve or backflow preventor.
    I my mind, you need to check with the water company and see what they require. Noticably missing is a backflow device, pressure reducing valve and bonding wire across the meter.
    I would absolutely clean up the mess you have with new valves all the way around including the sharkbite.
    If you are considering touching the curbstop, keep in mind that sometimes they turn off easily and won't turn back on. That would leave you in a pickle, let's just say, "I know a guy...."
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,650
    All of us "know a guy" : :smile:
    Author - Hard Knocks: My Life Inside Boiler Rooms
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/minnich-hydronic-consulting-and-design
    SWEI
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
    Re: Larry's photo of a leaking Sharkbite fitting.

    I have used Sharkbites, but would prefer sweated copper or threaded steel pipe. I think many plumbers would agree. (My limited use of Sharkbites was for a hydronic heating line situated directly over a basement floor drain.)

    In the photo, the PEX appears to be bent in a tight radius at the connection. Sharkbite's specs have a minimum bend radius, depending upon the nominal diameter of the PEX. Whether or not that led to the leak, I don't know. Sharkbite offers 90deg and 45deg elbows, which would have been better than a tight bend of PEX right at the connection.
    Hilly
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,698

    All of us "know a guy" : :smile:

    Indeed. Sometimes it's us..:smile:

    To go back a bit to the backflow preventer. Not to beat on a dead horse, but one has to be a little careful as to what may -- or may not be what is needed. A single check valve -- at least when I was inspecting stuff! -- was never acceptable as a backflow preventer. A double check could be used, provided there was no possible cross connection (such as your hose in the fish pond!) involved and no possible source of harmful material. Otherwise, it was a reduced pressure zone backflow preventer, and no exceptions:smile:

    Of course, going back to Stephen's comment, do I have RPZ's on any of my possible offending connections? Don't be daft...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    wyo
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
    A major manufacturer of water meters in the Midwest is Badger Meter in Wisconsin. Several years ago I phoned them and was told the none of their meters have check valves.

    Personally, I would be leery of a water meter with a check valve, unless there were an expansion tank and relief valve on the house side of the meter - which are not typically installed around here. I think backflow preventers should be on individual branch services with potential toxicity, such as sill cocks, boilers, etc. - not the whole house. Of course, local codes always take precedence.

    I agree that a single check valve is not an adequate backflow preventer. A backflow preventer requires a vent/drain - so if your water meter doesn't have one, it must not have a built-in backflow preventer.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,532
    edited May 2016

    A major manufacturer of water meters in the Midwest is Badger Meter in Wisconsin. Several years ago I phoned them and was told the none of their meters have check valves.

    Personally, I would be leery of a water meter with a check valve, unless there were an expansion tank and relief valve on the house side of the meter - which are not typically installed around here. I think backflow preventers should be on individual branch services with potential toxicity, such as sill cocks, boilers, etc. - not the whole house. Of course, local codes always take precedence.

    I agree that a single check valve is not an adequate backflow preventer. A backflow preventer requires a vent/drain - so if your water meter doesn't have one, it must not have a built-in backflow preventer.

    I'd be very uncomfortable with it.
    I've always viewed my public water service as a relief for my water heater and whenever I shut my water off my heater goes off with it.

    If I was setup with a BFP I'd assume I'd also have an expansion tank to go with it, but I don't and nor do most people, if anyone here. I understand the reasons for a BFP on the water main, but no one here does it.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,698
    ChrisJ said:

    A major manufacturer of water meters in the Midwest is Badger Meter in Wisconsin. Several years ago I phoned them and was told the none of their meters have check valves.

    Personally, I would be leery of a water meter with a check valve, unless there were an expansion tank and relief valve on the house side of the meter - which are not typically installed around here. I think backflow preventers should be on individual branch services with potential toxicity, such as sill cocks, boilers, etc. - not the whole house. Of course, local codes always take precedence.

    I agree that a single check valve is not an adequate backflow preventer. A backflow preventer requires a vent/drain - so if your water meter doesn't have one, it must not have a built-in backflow preventer.

    I'd be very uncomfortable with it.
    I've always viewed my public water service as a relief for my water heater and whenever I shut my water off my heater goes off with it.

    If I was setup with a BFP I'd assume I'd also have an expansion tank to go with it, but I don't and most people, if anyone, do here. I understand the reasons for a BFP on the water main, but no one here does it.

    Quite right. If you have a backflow preventer or even a simple check valve on a public water supply, you absolutely must have an expansion tank on the system.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
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