Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit

How To Straighten Bent Ball Valve Handle

D107 Member Posts: 1,726
edited August 2020 in Plumbing
Had a new water main put in last year. Installer put two ball valves in, one close to where pipe enters house (main valve) and a backup one after the meter. He intentionally bent the handle probably to allow initial threaded installation, but recently another plumber came for other work and found he couldn't use the secondary valve since the bent handle would have hit the line. I had thought using two sets of pliars--one as an anchor and the other to bend might easily work, but there's a risk of stressing the pipe. I also wondered if that nut could be loosened without affecting the valve so I could remove the handle, re-bend then put back. But don't know if loosening nut also loosens valve itself. I paid for the extra valve so want it to work; could easily call back original installer if need be.



  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,495
    I just did the same work at my house and most places the extra valve isn't extra, it's required to allow easy replacement of the meter.

    The nut comes off and then the handle can be removed.  Sometimes you may need to rock the handle a little.

    I'm confused as to why he bent the handle instead of just removing it like most would do.  The handle can also be flipped to swing different.
    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
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 3,819
    Hold the valve while loosening the nut. Pop the handle off and flip it to turn the valve on/off. I see this "whoops" a lot. Some bend the handle, some cut some length off it. Most learn for next time. Some don't. 
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,495
    @D107. Just out of curiosity can you take a picture further back showing the rest of the 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
  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,726
    edited August 2020
    Thanks all. @ChrisJ From right to left (house side towards street); first you'll see shot of old working gate valve that can be used to keep house water up in the pipes when working on something below; then original post showing bent handle, then meter, then after meter and incoming line. There is a hard-to-see ball valve at the incoming wall. I'd wanted a caleffi PRV and pressure gauges before and after meter but contractor was old school didn't want those bells and whistles.

    I took off the top nut and tried to flip it two ways, over and also tried putting handle on the left, but first way the stop no longer is in correct position so valve could keep turning and turning. handle is HARD to bend back.

  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,726
    edited August 2020
    Having looked at this, the real problem is that the way it is now, the handle will hit the pipe on its way to off; if I straighten the handle, it will hit the wood support. If I flip handle to the left, it will hit the PRV to valve's left. I think I have to get the installer back to turn the whole valve more. Or can I just buy a short valve handle? Since existing handle looks like brass guess I'll have to get like material.

  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,142
    Handles are bent like that every day. I've done it myself hundreds of times and the insulators do it to almost every one they touch. There's no harm in letting your instincts take over and just bend it back to straight. If it's too long, cut the handle off.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,575
    How often will you use it?
    Remove the handle and use a small crescent or open end wrench to turn it, when needed.
    The shorty handles can be hard to turn by hand if they are not exercised occasionally.
    Cut it down like @GroundUp mentioned slip a piece of heat shrink tube over it and mold a new handle.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,495
    If it makes you feel any better I have a ball valve on my wet return on my steam system.   It's by the floor in a bad spot which I regret putting it but since 2011 my self and a few others have kicked it and tripped over it.  The handle has been bent several times on the valve and it's still fine.

    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
  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,726
    @ChrisJ yes, I always come out of Wall threads learning a bit more, though in the scheme of things this is no biggie. I did notice when I first flipped it in such a way that it was without the stops the valve kept turning, and one wouldn't know how open or closed it was unless you tested it with a faucet. Luckily I reversed my motion and got back to default as far as I know.

    Another takeaway is the reminder to exercise my heating system and domestic system valves once a year or so.

    With the new water main, metal particles no longer collect in the bottom of the toilets.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,697
    the flats on the stem are in parallel with the hole in the ball
  • george_42
    george_42 Member Posts: 97
    when you work in the trade a bent handle is the least of your problems
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,197
    I have had this problem a couple of times.
    First you can straighten the handle in place,
    then slip the plastic cover off the handle, maybe heat with hair dryer.
    Remove the handle with that nut.
    Cut the handle short enough with a bolt cutters or hack saw, in a vice.
    Then I would round the corners on a grinder wheel to match the part cut off, shorten the plastic sleeve with scissors as needed and slip back on.
    A short piece of PVC pipe gives you a handle extension for that first hard movement, after that no problem.
    Or a crescent wrench on the handle at the nut end.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,445
    I've done that a few times, @JUGHNE . I like to put at least a stub of the handle back on, so i can see at a glance whether the dang thing is open or closed...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mferrer
    mferrer Member Posts: 27
    I'm not sure if it will help but some manufacturers make ball valve handle extensions to be used for pipe insulation. Watts may have it. It may allow you to operate the handle easier (bent or not) if you have the room to fit it in the space.
  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,726
    Finale: I ended up removing the handle, putting it on a vice, bending it with channel locks, only instead of towards the back as plumber did, I bent it toward the front. 'Open' photo may not look fully open but it is, just the angle it was shot at.

  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,590
    Good job! Now its time to complete the job and remove the barcode tag.
  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,726
    Not sure about that @SuperTech, those Watts folks usually weld those things on....don't want to start a three-week thread on that one...
Sign In or Register to comment.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!