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Saddle Valves

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DJD775
DJD775 Member Posts: 252
This past weekend I went to my in-laws house and as usual my father in-law has something for me to look at. He tells me there's water slowly dripping from a valve in the basement. My wife who had arrived earlier had already checked it out and she said she had tightened it up. At this point I'm really curious to what is going on and if my wife could possibly fix it. Upon inspection I see that it was dripping from a saddle valve and miraculously my wife had stopped the leak already. I tell my FIL that saddle valves are junk and I can swap it out for a proper valve. I had assumed that it was in the house for a while but come to find out it was recently installed by an HVAC company as part of a humidifier install. I don't know why I was shocked but I never thought a pro would install one of those things. In my mind they are the equivalent of using shark bites, maybe even worse.
Is this considered acceptable for a pro to use a saddle valve? I think I know the answer but I would like to hear what the pros think.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,635
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    Not a plumber -- but in my view, properly installed, there's nothing wrong with them. Companies I've worked with have installed a lot of a variant of them on water mains for the house connections-- it's what's used all the time (it's called hot-tapping; it's done for gas mains as well).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    DJD775
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 1,025
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    Very common for whole house humidifiers and refrigerator water/ice dispensers. They just have to be installed carefully and not be in a place where they can get bumped.
    DJD775SuperTech
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,829
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    @DJD775

    Saddle valves are shipped with humidifiers and refrigerator ice makers. Some use them but in some states they are not allowed. They are leakers
    DJD775
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    Usually will not shut off 100%
    DJD775
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,605
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    I do not like them :(
    As Jamie mentioned there are some very well-designed commercial valves designed for hot tapping. IMO those little 1/4" POS valves are for homeowners and tract homes. I have seen too many leaks caused by them.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    DJD775SuperTech
  • DJD775
    DJD775 Member Posts: 252
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    Zman said:

    I do not like them :(
    As Jamie mentioned there are some very well-designed commercial valves designed for hot tapping. IMO those little 1/4" POS valves are for homeowners and tract homes. I have seen too many leaks caused by them.

    This was the standard POS valve. In all the houses I've owned I've changed them out for piece of mind. I guess this is way I tend to like to do things myself.
  • DJD775
    DJD775 Member Posts: 252
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    Not a plumber -- but in my view, properly installed, there's nothing wrong with them. Companies I've worked with have installed a lot of a variant of them on water mains for the house connections-- it's what's used all the time (it's called hot-tapping; it's done for gas mains as well).

    I didn't realize they were used in large applications like water mains. I'm hope the valves they use on applications like that must be of better quality the your standard refrigerator valve.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,635
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    They are...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    DJD775mattmia2
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,913
    edited January 2022
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    To be fair look at the cost of a typical 3/4" or 1" ball valve and then look at the cost of a Mueller or Ford curb stop or corp stop. There's a substantial price difference there too. From what I recall, a good quality curb stop is about 10X the cost of a normal ball valve.

    But when you buy valves and parts from Ford or Mueller they come engineered better a lot, made a lot better, packaged better and their support is better.

    I'm sure their saddle valves are just a wee bit different. ;)
    I'm still amazed by how good a pack joint connection works.
    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
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,941
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    JUGHNE said:

    Usually will not shut off 100%

    Most of those little needle valves won't shut off 100% even when installed in a fitting...
  • DJD775
    DJD775 Member Posts: 252
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    I suspect if I ask the refrigerator saddle valve manufacturer who engineered them this would be the answer I would get:

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    When new or replumbing I would always put tees on H&C under the kit sink.
    Stops with 3/8" OD outlets on all 4 stubs.
    Hot for sink and DW.
    Cold for sink and icemaker 3/8 x 1/4 comp reducer.....no matter where the fridge was.
    Even across the room the kit sink was closer than the basement. Run 1/4 under cabinet toekick or under floor.

    For serious hot pipe taps, our NG company welds a nipple on the 10-12PSI gas main. then pressure test the weld.
    They have a tapping/drilling tool that works thru the stop screwed on the new nipple. Then somehow remove the tool as the stop is shut off.

    The water dept has a tapping tool that drills and threads a 1" opening in the pressurized water main (only 40 PSI here).
    The tool then seals off as the tap is removed and the "corporation stop" is screwed into the main thru the tool. It is a 1/4 turn valve. (must remember to have it off before removing the tool...huh...something you forget only once).

    They might space out 4 1" taps to yolk feed a 2" service.
    The corporation stop is usually 1" MPT X 1" flare.

    As ChrisJ said a lot more money, but something lasting here since water lines installed here in 1920's.
    Back then a 2-3' flexable lead "gooseneck" was formed to connect the iron piping going to the curb stop.
    Today it is type K soft copper or maybe some form of pex.

    The lead gooseneck is removed whenever possible/practical.
    The corp stop is owned by the water department, the rest is the responsibility of the owner.
    PC7060
  • Matt_67
    Matt_67 Member Posts: 295
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    Saw this on an unrelated visit to a home.
    SuperTechSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    I remember they used to sell a tapping device that had a sealed gunpowder charge that would shear off the side of the pipe.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    Legal in California?? :*
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    Bang on!
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,696
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    If I was going in to some random house to install an icemaker etc., I'd much rather tap a line than hope I can work the main cutoff & drain enough of the system without causing an even bigger problem that I would be responsible for.

    I do have 3/8 ball valves for the places I'm responsible for, however, even though I know the main valves all work.

  • DJD775
    DJD775 Member Posts: 252
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    @ratio I see your point. Getting the main valve shut of was my biggest concern when I recently changed my brother's water heater. Not a big concern at my house as I'm on well water and I can just shut the well pump off.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,913
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    All valves should be exercised 2 times a year if not more and this includes the main shutoff on a water line coming in.

    It also includes the stops on toilets and sinks.
    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
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • DJD775
    DJD775 Member Posts: 252
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    @ChrisJ I agree with you. The vast majority of people out there don't know any better. At my brother's house for every plumbing problem I fix, 2 more pop up. Total neglect!
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,696
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    Saddle valves are not the best. I know they are used quite frequently but they are also frequent leakers at the saddle clamp. They never seem to hold 100% when closed for maintenance. Definitely would not try to clamp them onto a plastic water pipe. Best to tap into the water line and add a valve that's very compatible with the piping being tapped into. h̶t̶t̶p̶:̶/̶/̶w̶w̶w̶.̶e̶x̶p̶e̶r̶t̶-̶p̶l̶u̶m̶b̶e̶r̶.̶c̶o̶m̶

    At least give us the area your company serves. Or get listed.
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    Funny this thread is going. Literally today I just removed a saddle valve to an icemaker. Sweat in a Tee and a proper 1/4 turn supply valve. 

    Thankfully most places around here have wells. The breaker always works to turn off the water.....
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    DJD775