3 Ways to Replace Water Shut Off Valve: Plumbing SharkBite, Compression Valve, and ProPress Method [Video]

By Mengning Heil

November 11, 2022

Leak Investigation and Pipe Repair

Reading Time: 10 minutes

If you’ve ever had to repair a broken water shut off valve handle, it can seem daunting. In our example today, the valve stem seized up on us, and we are going to cover what a simple handle repair could look like and what it takes if you need to replace a water shut off valve. 

We will eventually be using the ProPress method today to replace the entire water shut off valve, but along the way, I also want to show you a few other options, including what to keep in mind if you plan to just fix the broken handle, as well as the advantages of using a SharkBite or compression valve if you don’t have a ProPress tool. 

Continue reading or click the video to watch how to repair or replace a water shut off valve.

Broken Water Shut Off Valve Handle?

If you are merely dealing with a broken water shut off valve handle, there is a possibility that you may be able to swap in a new handle and avoid the valve replacement altogether. Before running to the nearest home improvement store, though, first, check to see if your valve stem still works.

With the handle off of the valve, get a set of pliers and start twisting the stem to determine if the valve still opens and closes all the way. If the valve is in good working order, just follow the next steps to replace the handle. If the valve stem is not opening and closing all the way when you use the pliers, you will need to replace the water shut off valve.

water shut off valve handle replacement

Pro Tip: If you notice any leaking while opening or closing the valve stem, you can tighten the packing nut (the front nut on the stem) with pliers.

Water Shut Off Valve Handle Replacement

At this time, you are ready to see if you can find a new handle to fit your shut off valve. This may take a couple of trips to a Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Lowe’s to find a handle that fits the valve stem you have (not all valve stems are the same). Another option is to try and find a universal handle that fits onto most stems. When you find one that works just, simply twist the new handle back on.

If fixing your broken water shut off valve handle does not work, keep reading to learn how to replace water shut off valve.

What To Know About Water Shut Off Valve Replacement

There are three basic options for replacing your water shut off valve: 1) a SharkBite valve (difficulty level: novice DIY’er); 2) a compression valve (difficulty level: novice DIY’er); 3) traditional soldering or the ProPress method (difficulty level: plumbers and advanced DIY’ers). Spoiler alert: we will not be covering soldering in this post. We will, however, cover how to use ProPress to install a new ball valve.

Something to keep in mind (especially if you are a novice DIY’er) before simply trying to swap in a new valve is the placement of your original shut off valve. Below, you will see our shut off valve is right next to a solder joint (immediately to the left of the valve).

A solder joint and an angle can complicate the matter of replacing the shut off valve. In this instance, if you’re a beginner, you might want to simply keep the old shut off valve in place and install your new shut off valve next to it. See below for an example.

replace water shut off valve with a new valve without taking out old valve

What To Know About SharkBite Valves

How Do SharkBite Valves Work?

A SharkBite is a type of push-to-connect plumbing fitting that does not require a soldering torch or even plumber’s putty. SharkBite valve fittings utilize a retainer ring with “teeth” which is designed to ensure the piping does not pull apart once a connection is made. Inside the valve, an o-ring creates a water-tight seal once the piping is pushed in properly and fully seated along the valve joint (at the stop).

Prepare the surface of the pipe for pushing into the valve fitting

How to Ensure a Proper SharkBite Valve Installation (Ball Valve) – Quick Overview

  1. Prepare the surface of the pipes you plan to connect to your valve by making sure to remove any sharp edges from the end of the metal pipe with emery cloth. (Sharp edges could damage the SharkBite valve o-ring, compromise your water-tight seal, and lead to leaks). Additionally, a nice clean, smooth surface (free of paint, debris, etc…) helps ensure a good connection. See the photo above.
  2. Prior to pushing your pipe into the SharkBite, you will want to estimate how far to push for a proper connection. Why? Because it is possible to assume you’ve made a complete connection simply because the retainer ring is holding the pipe inside the valve. The pipe is intended to push into the SharkBite and sit fully at the shoulder of the valve joint.

Pro Tip: To ensure that you push the pipe in all the way, we suggest, laying the end of the pipe next to (alongside or on top of) the valve joint where it should ultimately sit. Next, take a sharpie marker and mark your pipe, so you know approximately how far to push for a complete connection. See the photo below.

Mark approximately how far in the pipe should be pushed for a proper connection
  1. Next, push your pipe into the SharkBite valve, making sure that you do not push it in at an angle AND making sure that you push it in far enough for a proper connection.

How To Remove a SharkBite Valve?

If you need to take off the SharkBite from the pipe, you will need to compress the plastic piece at the end of the valve while simultaneously pulling the pipe out of the valve. Applying pressure to the plastic piece on the end of the SharkBite releases the retainer ring teeth that are gripping the pipe. The easiest method for removing a SharkBite valve is using a SharkBite remover tool. See the photo below.

How To Remove a SharkBite Fitting Without the Tool?

If you need to take off the SharkBite from the pipe and you do not have a SharkBite remover, use pillars or some other tool to provide downward pressure on the end of the valve. Compressing the plastic piece on the end of the SharkBite (regardless of the tool you use) will release the teeth that are gripping the pipe.

What To Know About Compression Valves

How Do Compression Valves Work

A compression valve is a tighten-to-connect plumbing fitting that relies on a nut, a ferrule (ring), and plumber’s putty instead of soldering. With the pipe fully in the valve, a nut is tightened onto the valve over top of a ferrule (covered in plumber’s putty), pressing the ferrule together with the pipe creating a water-tight connection.

How To Attach a Compression Valve To Piping (Ball Valve) – Quick Overview

  1. Prepare the surface of the pipes you plan to connect to your valve by making sure to remove any sharp edges from the end of the metal pipe with emery cloth. Additionally, a nice clean, smooth surface (free of paint, debris, etc…) helps ensure a good connection. (Yes, this is the same procedure regardless of the type of valve you choose to install).
  2. Remove the compression valve nut from the valve (unscrew by hand).
  3. Remove the ferrule (ring) from within the nut.
  4. Place the nut onto the pipe you plan to connect to the compression valve.
  5. Slide the ferrule onto the pipe and momentarily keep it far enough down on the pipe to provide space for the valve.
  6. Push the pipe into the compression valve fully.
  7. Paint the ferrule with plumber’s putty.
  8. With the ferrule butting up against the compression valve base, bring the nut up over the top of the ferrule and hand tighten the nut to the valve.
  9. Using two pliers (one to hold the base of the compression valve still and one to hold the nut) tighten the nut onto the valve securely.

Your compression valve should now be water-tight and ready to be tested.

How To Remove Compression Valve – Quick Overview

  1. Using two pliers (one to hold the base of the compression valve still and one to hold the nut) loosen and remove the nut from the valve.
  2. Wipe any plumber’s putty from the ferrule (ring).
  3. Remove the ferrule with a pair of pliers. Note: the ferrule will be stuck on the pipe because of how a compression valve connection works (the ring and the pipe are both made of malleable metal, and the nut pressed them together).

What To Know About ProPress

How Does ProPress Work?

ProPress connections are joined by a hydraulic press instead of through traditional soldering. Solderless ProPress fittings have been designed to form reliable connections with the help of a sealing element (o-ring) that is pressed, which in turn creates water tight-seal. Moreover, because ProPress does not utilize solder, there is no fire hazard or fumes associated, making it a much safer option for people looking to connect copper pipes without any hassle.

Keep reading for more about the ProPress method below.

Quick Guide – How To Replace Water Shut off Valve

Below is a quick step-by-step outline of how to replace a water shut off valve. (We used the ProPress method today).

  1. Use the emergency water shut off to shut off all water. Then, open all faucets in your home.
  2. Strip paint off existing pipe (if any), and clean/ prepare the pipe surface with emery cloth in order to get a good fitting (get all the way around the pipe). Note: to remove paint from a pipe, sometimes it is helpful to start with a razor knife prior to attempting to use the emery cloth.
  3. Grab a bucket for any excess water left in pipes.
  4. Open the bleed (bleeder) for the existing valve (if your existing valve has a bleed) and drain the water from the bleed into your bucket. Close the bleed up again (hand-tighten only).
  5. Measure and mark how much pipe you will need to remove in order to install the new shut off valve.
  6. Cut the existing piping using a piping cutter or a hacksaw and catch excess water.
    • Important:
      • Cut only the amount of pipe out necessary for the new shut off valve to be properly connected into the pipe. (In other words, if you cut out the pipe based on the entire length of the shut off valve, you may have cut too much.)
  7. Attach the shut off valve (SharkBite, compression, or ProPress) and any necessary new pipe.
    • SharkBite Tip
      • Many times, pipes already mounted are fixed and cannot be budged easily, which means you will have trouble sliding the SharkBite valve fitting onto the existing pipe.
      • If one of the pipes cannot be pushed back about 1/2″ or so to give you the room that you need to connect the new valve, you’re going to need to cut out an additional small section of pipe and add a SharkBite slip coupling. (See additional info in this video).
      • Warning: If the existing pipe is not giving you enough room to insert the SharkBite valve, do NOT force the pipe into the SharkBite valve at an angle because you will very likely cut the o-ring and end up with a leak.
    • ProPress Tips
      • The ProPress method requires a ProPress tool to secure the valve to the pipe.
      • See the section below for additional info.
  8. Turn on water and test to make sure there is no leakage from your new valve. If there are no leaks, you are done. Do not forget to close your faucets throughout your home

How To Use a ProPress Tool?

1. Start by laying the end of the pipe next to (alongside or on top of) the fitting or valve joint where it should ultimately sit.
2. Next, take a sharpie marker and mark your pipe, so you know approximately how far to push the pipe into the fitting for a complete connection.
3. Make any necessary final adjustments to the length of the pipe using a piping cutter to ensure a proper connection.
4. Clean and deburr the inner and outer lip of your copper pipes (removing sharp edges).
5. Insert the pipe into the fitting, pushing the pipe all the way in until it is seated at the “stop” (this should match approximately where you marked the pipe in Step 2 above).
6. Place your ProPress tool with appropriately sized jaws over the fitting you intend to press. The o-ring (bulge) should be aligned in the groove of the jaws of your press tool for optimum accuracy. Note: keep your tool straight while pushing down on the trigger, or you could end up dealing with an unexpected leak!
7. Press and hold the button on the ProPress gun, and it will secure everything in place by compression. Most tools will complete their job automatically once the trigger has been pushed.
8. Move on to the next connection and repeat. Remember, make sure to check that you have pressed all connections prior to turning the water back on.

ProPress Installation Gallery

If you find yourself needing help with leak detection in Baltimore or if you’re looking for a trustworthy plumber in Baltimore or the surrounding areas, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services in Rockville and throughout Montgomery, Howard, Baltimore, and parts of Anne Arundel Counties, including toilet installation and repair, leak detection and pipe repair, water heater repair and installation, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, water treatment, and more.

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