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BobN 03-08-2009 05:25 PM

Need Replacement Gas Shut Off Value with Side Port for Pilot Light - Photos Available
We have a house which was built in the 1920's which has an old coal furnace converted to gas with a Norman Conversion Burner.

The shut off valve has a very, very, tiny gas leak and I want to replace or repair it.

This valve is not part of the burner itself, the valve is located on the gas pipe supplying gas to the burner.

There is a separate shut off valve for the pilot screwed into a port on the side of the main valve.

The main valve is leaking - oh so slightly, you have to get your nose right at the valve to smell it - at the back of the valve.

There is a spring on the back of the valve which I believe pulls the valve tightly into the seat to seal it.

Does anyone know where I might get a replacement valve? Remember, it has a side port into which the pilot valve is screwed.

Short of that, does anyone know how to disassemble a valve like this to clean it?

It is almost impossible to fully close the main valve, that's why I think it is dirty or corroded inside.

You can see photos of this valve at

Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.


P.S. I just thought of something about the hookup shown in the photos at - that appears to be galvanized water pipe - not black gas pipe coming down from the reduction fitting and into the valve.

What do you think, does the smaller pipe that runs into the valve look like water pipe?

This might explain why the valve is sticking. I've read that gas can cause the galvanizing to come off water pipe. That would produce debris which could clog the valve perhaps preventing the spring from fully sealing the valve.

Perhaps I should replace that pipe if it is indeed water pipe????

On this very old burner, there is no place that debris could block the burner, it is basically just a big pipe from which gas flows and is ignited.

The pilot is also a very simple tube with a small opening. I clean the pilot tube every 2 or 3 years to maintain a good size on the pilot flame.
Another update - looking at it, I realize someone has painted the pipe. You can see traces of the paint on the valve and on the reduction fitting. So, my guess that it might be water pipe is a little less certain.....

yuri 03-08-2009 05:52 PM

:nuke: Don't want to be negative but that stuff is virtually if not totally obsolete as there is no demand for it. All new gas valves are 100% shutoff with built in pilot gas safety shutoff. I saw a 80 yr old International coal sectional boiler the other day. Those old furnaces and boilers can be death traps as the stove cement sealing the sections falls off/they warp and when they don't burn cleanly they produce/leak CO. Time for a new furnace unless you have a death wish. I hope you have 2 newer CO detectors in your house, 1 downstairs and 1 by your bedroom.:excl:

BobN 03-08-2009 06:20 PM

There are three CO monitors - basement, bedroom and main hallway (only a one story house).

I've had this furnace tested and it burns quite cleanly with minimal CO.

The type of newer valve you talk about, I am assuming, is part of the burner, not the shutoff valve and is not an option here.

The conversion burner does has a thermocouple safety switch. This keeps the burner off if the pilot is out - but, again, that is part of the burner and not an issue here.

The issue is the shut off valve upstream of the furnace itself.

A new furnace will mean not only replacing the actual furnace but installing all new duct work. Remember, this is a coal (gravity feed) furnace converted to gas with an add on burner. The existing duct work is the old style "octopus" type from the coal era. There is an individual 9" round pipe running from the top of the furnace to each room.

This duct work could not be used for a new forced air furnace. It would have to be ripped out, the holes in the walls patched, and a plenum and duct work for a forced air system installed. Not only is the ducting different for an old gravity feed system, the outlets are installed on inside walls whereas forced air outlets are installed on outside walls.

New duct work for a forced air system would cost thousands of dollars and we can't afford that. Eventually we are going to install (as in DIY) underfloor radiant heating but that is 3 or 4 years down the road.

I talked to a local plumbing supply house and they may have a valve I can use in this set up but I won't know for sure until I actually look at it.

I either need to replace the valve with one which has the side port for the pilot, disassemble and clean this valve, or make up an assembly with a shut off valve, a T, and a shut off for the pilot. At the present time there are no other viable options.

yuri 03-08-2009 06:52 PM

I ripped out dozens of those old octopus units in the early 80's and they can be deadly. They are made of 3 circular sections stacked on top of each other and were so dangerous they were illegal to convert to gas in my province. The sections will expand and split so beware!! If the gas leak is so small I would leave it alone. If it has not caused a problem yet then it likely won,t. That stuff is all old and fragile and I would leave it alone. The valve is a lubricated plug type with no seat and cannot be repaired. I am sure the fuel savings in those few years may pay for half the cost of the equipment so I would do it now. Beware lots of those old units have asbestos in them which needs proper and safe removal.

Good Luck

kenmac 03-08-2009 07:41 PM

I still see some of those old valves from time to time. I don't think you can still purchase them anywhere. The grease has dried out in the valve. Some were made to take apart and apply new grease to keep them from leaking

BobN 03-08-2009 07:46 PM

We'd do it now if we could afford it - but we can't.

Both of us are self-employed (actually my wife runs two businesses) and we knew the USA was in a recession long before the news or the government starting calling it one - actually we think the US is in a depression, not a recession. We expect both of our businesses to continue to be depressed for a year or more.

If we could afford it, I'd purchase the supplies and run the radiant heating tubing this spring and summer and have the rest of the system installed before fall.

But we can't afford it and thus I need to take care of this valve problem myself - somehow.

I understand the safety issues with this old furnace. It has held up quite well so far. When I first moved in here I had a battle with the pilot not staying lit until I finally disassembled the pilot tube and thoroughly cleaned the orifice - I doubt it had been cleaned in 10 years or more. I clean it every 2 or 3 years now just to be sure.

Thanks for your replies.

BobN 03-08-2009 08:02 PM


Does this one look like it could be taken apart and lubricated? I assume that it would be taken apart on the end with the spring.

Might it help to open and close this valve a few times? I've closed and opened it 2 or 3 times and the handle is moving easier now. Might some working back and forth help to seal the leaking section?

If you look at the photo of the side with the spring, the cap (or whatever you want to call it) that is holding the spring has a couple of indents to take, I'm assuming, some sort of tool to unscrew it but where to find the tool?

Well, I have one local supplier to check tomorrow who might have a replacement and if they don't have one, I'm going to spend the day going around to as many suppliers as I can cover.

I'm in the St. Louis, MO area and there are a lot of very old houses here with old systems. Maybe I'll dig up a replacement somewhere.

Hopefully it will be the same width and I won't have to mess with replacing any of the piping but I won't hold my breath. I fully expect to have to cut and thread some pipe (or have someone else cut and thread it to save me the trouble) to make the resulting assembly the same length as the existing setup.

Question - there is a stop screw on the handle of this valve, like lots that I've seen, which limits the travel of the handle. If I took that screw out would the handle be free to rotate 360 degrees? Would it just turn or would the assembly unscrew? I doubt it would unscrew. The screw is probably to insure that the valve is fully in the open or closed position.

Maybe rotating it several times might redistribute the lubrication and seal the valve.

Of course, it could also make it worse than it is now.

beenthere 03-08-2009 08:18 PM

Thats an unsafe an obsoleted set up.

Since if the pilot is out, it still leave gas flow through the pilot.

Yes times are tough.

Still, thats no reason to keep using an unsafe system/set up.

BobN 03-08-2009 09:23 PM

Yes, it leaves the pilot supply on regardless of whether the pilot is lit or not but it is grandfathered here and it is what we have to deal with.

I have added a circuit to the system, which has no effect on the rest of the system, which sounds an alarm if the pilot goes out. Accordingly, if the pilot goes out we know about it instantly and I can then take care of the situation. The pilot has not gone out in over 3 years.

If you, or someone you know, wants to pay the cost of replacing this heating system, we would be most grateful but I know that's not going to happen.

If someone had a magic wand and can wave it and transform this old, old system into a modern system - well, wave away!

Let me see if I put this is a way that makes it clear - we don't have the income (or savings) to afford a new heating system. Credit cards?? Nope, they are all close to their limits.

Even if it were a matter of just replacing the furnace itself, it would be something we can't afford.

But installing a new forced air system would require the installation of totally new ducts - the existing ducts would not be usable with a new furnace.

I came to this site to try and get a little help not a bunch of criticism.

Either I find a replacement for this valve or the problem goes unresolved for the foreseeable future.

The only bright thing on the horizon, as regards this problem, is that the heating season is about over. If I can't find a replacement valve I can at least install a short nipple and a cap, in place of the valve - that will stop the leak.

I will then have until fall to get the problem fixed so that the furnace will be usable next heating system.

It is not a matter of times being tough - we are living day to day on the tips my wife makes, everything else goes directly to bills.

I need information not criticism.

I guess I expected help with this problem - not simply be told to "get rid of all of it"

I have to work with what I have.

I guess I expected people, if they could not help with finding a new valve, to suggest such things as waiting until the weather turns and installing a nipple and cap (like I mentioned above) and then taking the spring and summer to work out a solution - be it a new valve or an assembly with a valve, a T, and another valve for the pilot light.

At least something......

beenthere 03-08-2009 10:10 PM

So there is always someone home to hear the alarm if it goes off.
You and your wife never leave the house together. Right :whistling2:

Who cares if something happens and your neighbors house burns down also. :furious:

If your income is that low, that you can't afford to replace the furnace.

Lets make this clear.

All communities have programs that will help you.

BobN 03-09-2009 03:53 PM


Originally Posted by beenthere (Post 242022)
If your income is that low, that you can't afford to replace the furnace.

Lets make this clear.

All communities have programs that will help you.

First - I found a replacement valve, there are two differences. The replacement valve is a ball value, the old one is not. The old valve is 3 1/8" long and new one is 2 5/8" - I will need to get a longer piece of pipe to make it fit the original position. It will be a very simple installation.

Second- I've been unable to find a program in our area which will help us cover a large chunk of something over $5,000 for a new furnace and all new duct work.

But then, we want to install radiant under floor heating. It is a better heating system and I can do all the tubing installation myself, thus saving quite a bit of money.

Another advantage is that I can run the tubing without affecting the current heating system. Actually, the entire system could be installed before the old furnace and ducts are removed. That' a great advantage since it will allow us to install the system bit by bit as funds are available. When it is fully installed and tested, the old furnace and ducts can be removed.

Third -perhaps you'll sleep better -- I'm thinking about whether there is a way to install some sort of solenoid valve in-line with the gas line to the pilot light so that if the pilot goes out, and thus the current from the thermocouple stops, it will close off the pilot supply line. I'll have to look at available gas solenoids valves to see if there is anyway I can incorporate one into this system.

If I can come up with a fairly straightforward setup, I'll install it. Otherwise the system will just have to remain as it has been for uncounted decades.

Also, the new valve is a ball valve and it could be mounted upside down to control both the burner and the pilot supplies. I'm going to check with building inspection to see if they will allow it to be installed upside down. If I can do so, it will alleviate at least one concern voiced here.

One other thought on safety - before I figured out how to remove the pilot assembly to clean it, when I first moved in here, the pilot was going out quite often. When I went to relight it, there was no smell of gas in the basement and virtually none in the furnace itself. There were times when the pilot had been out for a day or more. I do not think this particular pilot is a danger when it is out and the gas supply continues. The flame is quite small and thus the supply is small.

I guess I should correct myself there - the odor you smell with gas is not the gas itself, gas is odorless or virtually ordorless, it is the odorant, such as t-butyl mercaptan or sometimes thiophane, which is added to the gas which causes the smell.

This is my last post, I consider this thread closed.

I will be asking the administrator to remove me from the membership database as I don't see any point to come back here in the future.

beenthere 03-09-2009 06:19 PM

You won't smell the gas, if its filling the chimney.

You just get a nice EXPLOSION.

hvaclover 03-10-2009 12:02 AM

Friggin Fat Eddy again.

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