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Old 10-16-2006, 08:57 AM   #1
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Turning valve at water meter



My water meter shut off valve looks like this (top photo), except covered in dirt and probably not touched since the house was built in 1964. It feels "frozen" even with a long lever arm on top of my "curb key" T wrench. I have to shut it because the main house valve seems to not close 100% (continues to drip preventing me from soldering).

So which way to turn?

The cautious thought I had was that it was a quarter-turn ball-type valve like those I've seen at the hardware store (photo below). As such it would be disastrous if forced the wrong way. I'm all too aware of reverse threads in automotive and bike applications. I'm not familiar with plumbing. I don't know what's the convention.


A self-proclaimed knowledgeable friend said it doesn't matter -- as in, it should keep turning 360 degrees over and over. I cannot find a definite answer from Googling.

What's the truth about these valves -- quarter turn or unlimited?

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Old 10-16-2006, 02:18 PM   #2
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Turning valve at water meter


Take and post a picture on here.

Should be right to close and left to turn on. Is vavle on house side of meter or sreet side?

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Old 10-16-2006, 04:32 PM   #3
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Turning valve at water meter


Your pictures are of a Locking Ball valve. These are frequently used by Water Companies so they can lock them in the off position if you fail to pay the bill. The ones we used in Ohio only turned 1/4 turn and one way (matching up the holes on the valve and handle.) I would suggest you call your water company to see if they own that valve. If so, and you break it, you will be paying for them to replace/repair it. Many water companies will shut it off free if you call them.
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Old 10-16-2006, 05:44 PM   #4
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Turning valve at water meter


Aside from my individual case, it sounds like in general, they are mostly quarter turn -- which makes the issue of knowing which direction absolutely paramount. Is it a general plumbing rule that everything counterclockwise opens, while everything clockwise closes?

I cleaned up the valve handle for this photo:

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Old 10-16-2006, 05:51 PM   #5
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Turning valve at water meter


Is it on the house side or street side of meter? Is there an arrow on top? Most like that here are 1/2 turn on and off, right for off left for on.
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Old 10-16-2006, 05:51 PM   #6
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Turning valve at water meter


If it has two holes that line up to lock it, turn the handle in that direction. You may have to tap on the top of the valve or on top of your tee handle wrench to get it to turn. Vibration is a wonderful tool for breaking things loose. Thats one reason all the stuff like WD-40 tells you to spray and tap a few times. When I was working for the Water Division, I always turned the handles clockwise to shut off. I could not see the top of the valve as it was 4' in the ground. I just "felt" around with the curb key and when I was on it, turned it.
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:43 PM   #7
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Turning valve at water meter


Greetings--

The water meter valves that I have had at houses only turned 1/4 turn-- to mate the locking tabe.

Suggestion-- clean out the dirt a bit more and see where the locking tab is. My guess is the closest 1/4 turn to mate the tabs.

The suggestion to call the water co and ask them to turn it off is a good one-- You can then see which way it turns, they will have to loosten it , and if they break it-- they will fix it.

Last edited by Piney; 10-16-2006 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:45 PM   #8
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Turning valve at water meter


I would call the water dept if it is on the street side.
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:01 PM   #9
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Turning valve at water meter


There doesn't seem to be any tab that turns with the handle. The visible elongated object is below the shoulder of the valve handle. I'll dig more tomorrow to find out for sure. Seems like it's the type that is unlockable -- perhaps very different from the example I first posted I don't know.

Is there at least consensus that it's the quarter turn type of valve? So there's no such thing as a type that turns EITHER DIRECTION and 360 degrees continuously just for idiot-proof simplicity?

And Ron, I thought valves are always on the street side of the meter. Mine is.
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Old 10-17-2006, 07:07 AM   #10
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Turning valve at water meter


On street side have the water dept come and turn it off.
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Old 10-17-2006, 09:49 AM   #11
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Turning valve at water meter


If it is on the street side and you break the valve and it leaks then the water dept may charge you a great fee to repair your efforts. Plus the hassle for them to turn it off before this valve.
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Old 10-17-2006, 02:16 PM   #12
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Turning valve at water meter


Quote:
Originally Posted by redline View Post
If it is on the street side and you break the valve and it leaks then the water dept may charge you a great fee to repair your efforts. Plus the hassle for them to turn it off before this valve.
Okay, I'll call water department.

But is there no such thing as an idiot-proof valve at the meter where it can be turned either direction? And then keep turning 360+ degrees on/off/on/off/on/off depending on which way the valve handle is pointing? Just curious about that bit, too.
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Old 10-17-2006, 04:27 PM   #13
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Turning valve at water meter


There HAS to be a stopping point for the valve to be completely off (or on). Gate vales, it's the end of the stem, Ball valves, it's a tab on the handle that hits a raised spot on the valve. Otherwise, you would never know when it was completely off. The raised "bar" on your valve indicates the position of the valve. When the bar is lined up with the water line, it's open. When it is across the direction of the line, it's closed. The reason most valves (older ones) only open or close in one direction is because of the seal, whether it be a ball or a shaft with a slot in it to allow flow.
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:19 PM   #14
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Turning valve at water meter


Quote:
Originally Posted by KCnorthernCA View Post
Okay, I'll call water department.

But is there no such thing as an idiot-proof valve at the meter where it can be turned either direction? .
Older style shutoff's are that way, your does not look like the older style.
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Old 10-18-2006, 02:25 AM   #15
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Turning valve at water meter


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Originally Posted by majakdragon View Post
There HAS to be a stopping point for the valve to be completely off (or on). Gate vales, it's the end of the stem, Ball valves, it's a tab on the handle that hits a raised spot on the valve. Otherwise, you would never know when it was completely off...
The only phone number that gets through when calling the water company is their emergency line.

Guess what.

A lady answers. I tell her, "I have a technical question about the valve at my water meter..." Long pause waiting to get transferred... "How can I help you, sir?" she asks.

So I explain my question.

She replies, not too convincingly, but stubbornly, that the valve can be turned in either direction! When I continued to prod, asking if that meant 360 degrees and more, where it would shut off when the handle points across, then flow again when aligned, then off again as it rotates continuously without stop, and same for the other direction... she said, "yes."

Then I said, "it's extremely tight, so I'll be using extreme force on it. Are you SURE there's no way I can damage it?!"

She said, "no, you won't damage it."

I got her name.

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