A Water Supply Valve Replacement Can Be Tricky

Jobsite Reports
January 23, 2017

by David Balkan

water supply valves

When your main water supply valve needs to be replaced it can be a simple job, or very complicated. A water supply valve for your typical home water service supply line is 1″ to 1 1/2″, and relatively simple to replace. However if you own a commercial building, a main line valve can range in size all the way to 8″ in diameter. Large commercial water supply valves can weigh hundreds of pounds, and be located in hard to reach areas. What follows is a Balkan job site report from St. Johns University. It clearly shows why a skilled water main contractor, such as Balkan, is needed for most main control valve replacement work.

water main contractor
Balkan working for St. Johns University

Some reasons water supply valve installations get tricky

When you require the repair or replacement of a water supply valve of any size, problems can arise. Even a valve as small as a valve for a toilet can cause flooding and water damage. But complications and potential issues get even more multiplied when dealing with much larger valves. That proved the case when Balkan was hired to replace 8″ water supply valves for St. Johns University. What follows are some of the details that Balkan encountering, and successfully dealt with, during this particular installation.

Oops, contractor forgets to install water connection on City Main

An extremely unusually occurrence Balkan dealt with on this job site in Flushing, was that the city water main had recently been replaced. While in itself not unusual, what was most unusual was that the city contractor forgot to install the water supply wet connection valve for the service line for St. Johns back on to the city water main. Once excavated, exposed, and brought to their attention, the contractor did return, and install the wet connection onto the city water main. But, for sure, finding no connection for an 8″ water service line was quite unexpected.

Different water valves have different purposes. A wet connection is the connection valve used for service lines larger than 2″. Smaller connection valves are known as tap connections, or “wet taps”.

missing water supply valve
A block of wood stands where the water valve belongs

What is a water supply valve? Technically speaking, a water supply valve is a plumbing fitting that regulates, directs, or controls the flow of water through an opening to another area of a plumbing system. By closing, or partially closing the valve, you control or stop the flow of water.

Interestingly, the word valve is derived from the Latin valva. Which in Latin refers to the moving part of a door. A water supply valve can be as simple as the valve controlling water to your toilet, or as complex as those used public water supply and water treatment plants. Some water supply valves are controlled electronically, and in more and more cases, remotely. It is increasingly more common to be able to close a valve through the internet. Electronic or event sensing valves can come in handy. As an example, if you are away from your home and a leak arises.

water supply valves
Old 8″ valves removed from St. Johns University job site

Working in a Meter Pit

Working inside a commercial meter pit is unlike working inside most residential access pits. While most homeowners have access pits for their sewer and water lines that are 3′ or 4′ deep, the one at St. Johns University was over 8′ deep.  Working to replace a water supply valve in a confined pit over 8′ deep requires great skill, and safety precautions. A rushed or sloppy job can not only result in a hard to fix leak, but in a serious injury as well.

water supply valve pit
meter pit for an 8″ meter and valve

What is a plumbing Hot Box?

In NYC, and other municipalities, backflow prevention devices are required more frequently. A backflow prevention device installed on a water supply line prevents possible contamination form entering into the public water supply. Most older water services lines were not installed with backflow prevention devices.

In some cases, since these devices require discharge of water to function properly,  offsets have to be installed on the water supply line. These offsets allow for a small section of the water line to be above ground, and allow for proper functioning the backflow prevention device. In climates such as NYC, an exposed water lie would freeze during the Winter months. That is when a Hot Box is utilized to protect an exposed water line from freezing.

Hot Box for a back flow prevention device

Some of the cases where these Hot Boxes may be required are cemeteries, open ball fields, or buildings, that do not have the room to accommodate large backflow devices. Such a case was at this property belonging to St. Johns University, located in Flushing, Queens.

Why call a water supply valve expert?

It takes years of experience, training, and learning to become expert in water valve repair, maintenance, and installation. It should be obvious that when your drinking water is involved, none but expert and licensed individuals should be trusted to perform the work. But, unfortunately that is lesson not learned by many DIY people (do-it-your-selfers). In almost all cases, none but a licensed plumber should be trusted with the task of working on a main water valve. In NYC, there is none more skilled and experienced than the team at Balkan Sewer And Water Main Service. You can call us anytime, or any day,  for a free and no obligation site visit.


Get A Free Quote
David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

Dave Balkan

Ready to Get Your Sewer or Water Main Issue Fixed?

Get An Instant Quote
  • We manage every project from start to finish
  • We work quickly with instant quotes & rapid responses
  • We are licensed as a Master Plumber
  • Our GPS fleet ensures we are on time, every time
  • We are available 24/7 for emergencies
  • We back all replacements with a 10-year unconditional guarantee