How To Install Sink Valves

Learn how to spot and repair valve leaks in your home with a few plumbing tools and materials you can get from your home center.

Main water from your city or county supply enters your home and is transported throughout with copper or galvanized pipes to valves controlling water flow to faucets. Valves develop problems with age, developing leaks at the most inconvenient times. But with a few tools, you can handle these repairs yourself.

Corrosion attacks valves the same way water supply mineral content attacks pipes. Pipes erode, the rate of degradation depending upon the" hardness" or mineral content of the water. A silent killer, corrosion goes unnoticed until it spawns a leak, or the shutoff valve gets stuck when it needs to be turned off. Evidence of corrosion's presence is pitting of the valve's metal surface.

Shrieking sounds indicate that a valve's interior rubber gasket has become brittle and unable to efficiently restrict water flow. Water flowing over the gasket creates this annoying noise when a faucet is turned on. If the noise is limited to one faucet, the valve can be replaced. If the sound occurs when any faucet in the house is turned on, a mixer valve at the main line is defective. For this repair, call a plumber.

Leaks result from corroded metal parts of the shutoff valve. Corrosion erodes the seat which fails to make a proper seal, resulting in water dripping from the valve handle. Other causes include settling in older homes, applying pressure upon pipes which can break the valves.

Corrosion can damage metal coil supply lines. Gently tug on each line. If it's corroded it'll leak. Other supply line leaks can dribble or stream water down the line from the point where the supply line connects to the valve. Evidence of these leaks create dampness in the cabinet, or a warped cabinet floor. You may also smell mold and mildew.

Use a pair of channel lock pliers to tighten the compression fittings of the supply lines. If the supply lines still leak, try shutting off the water at the valve and removing the line. Wrap plumber's Teflon tape around the threads of the line and reinstall. Sometimes that seals the leak. If not, replace the line.

A quick fix for leaking valves is to gently tighten the packing nut with a pipe wrench (turn right). If the valve connection is tight, but the valve is stuck and leaking, replace it.

Shut off the house's main water supply. Place a bucket under the valve and use a pipe wrench to loosen the packing nut, the nut located just behind the valve handle. Be careful not to break the valve. Unscrew the old valve and wipe the pipe with a rag. Clean any threads of the pipe with a small wire brush. Apply pipe dope or Teflon tape available from your local home center onto thethread and install the new valve until finger tight. Be careful not to cross thread. Tighten with a pipe wrench.

Reconnect the water supply and inspect the connection. If it still leaks, tighten it a little more until it stops. Run water into the sink. Don't be concerned about spurts or some line hammering caused by air in the line. This will clear. Inspect the valve to be sure that the leak has stopped. If so, remove the bucket and you're done.

© High Speed Ventures 2011