In most cases, if you need to fix something around the toilet, you will have to cut off the main water supply. However, if the shutoff valve is not working, things get a bit difficult. Whatever else you need to fix will have to be postponed until you fix the shutoff valve itself. Luckily for you, we have prepared some quick and easy solutions to fix a broken shutoff valve.
Table of Contents
- Fixing a Shutoff Valve
- Water Supply Line – Turning Off
- Main Shutoff Valve – Turning Off
- Fixing a Leaking Valve
- Final Thoughts
Fixing a Shutoff Valve
If your shutoff valve is not working, there are three things you should check.
1. Stuck Valve
A stuck valve is one of the most common issues. In that case, spray it with a lubricant such as WD-40 and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then, try again to check if it’s working. In general, it’s best practice to spray the valve periodically to prevent it from getting stuck and ensure that it’s always working properly.
2. Valve Partially Closing
In some cases, the valve may be partially rotated, preventing you from shutting it off completely. At this point, you will most likely need to buy a new valve.
3. Valve Leaking
You might notice that the valve is leaking even after you shut it off, which means you have a faulty seal. In that case, tighten the fitting around the valve to see if that fixes the problem. If the issue persists, take the valve apart and replace the seal. In the worst-case scenario, you will need to buy a new valve and replace the old one.
Water Supply Line – Turning Off
If you need to turn off the water supply to your toilet immediately and have no time to fix the shutoff valve, don’t worry – you can do it manually. Doing this will also allow you to inspect the problem more easily.
Here are four steps to turning off the water supply to your toilet.
1. Locate Shutoff Valve
If you look at the pipe at the rear of the toilet, you will find a small valve. This valve usually looks like a small ball positioned directly on the pipe. However, if you have an old toilet, it might happen that you don’t have a toilet shut-off valve. In that case, you will need to turn off the water supply to your house, which we will explain later in the article.
2. Rotate Valve Clockwise
Rotate the valve clockwise until it stops. It shouldn’t be hard, so make sure not to force it or it might break. You might also need to apply a bit of a lubricant to make things easier.
3. Ensure Water is Off
Now it’s time to see if the water is really off. To do this, simply flush the toilet. If the water is off, it won’t refill itself and the tank will remain empty. However, if your toilet is clogged, you will need to lift the float lever in the tank. Then, press down the lever. If the water line is off, the tank will stay empty.
Take a look at our guide about flushing a toilet with water off.
4. Turn Water Back On
After you solve the issue that needed to be solved, it’s time to turn the water supply on. To do that, rotate the valve counterclockwise as long as it rotates. Wait a minute, and flush the toilet. If your toilet flushes and refills properly, the water supply is on again.
Main Shutoff Valve – Turning Off
In some cases, you might need to turn off the main water supply to your house before you start fixing anything around the toilet.
- Locate the valve, which is usually in the basement or outside around the home.
- Turn it clockwise as far as it can go. Be prepared that turning off the main water supply will turn off all the water lines in your home.
- Turn it back on by rotating it counterclockwise. Rotate the valve until it stops – avoid over-tightening the valve.
Fixing a Leaking Valve
Fixing a valve that is leaking is actually pretty simple. The only tools that are required for this operation are a screwdriver and slip-joint pliers. By fixing the problem yourself, you will save a decent amount of cash compared to hiring a plumber.
To start, locate the packing nut on the valve. Tighten it by a ⅛ turn clockwise and it should form a seal that will prevent water from going out. You might also need to wrap a cloth on the jaws to prevent damaging the nut. Although it won’t cause serious damage, it can scratch the finish which doesn’t look nice. Also, don’t press too hard to prevent damaging the waterline. Note that in most homes, the valves might not be touched for years, which can cause stains and make them difficult to turn on and off.
An excellent way to check if a valve is leaking is by using toilet paper. Since your hands may be wet, simply take a piece of toilet paper and use it to touch around the valve. If the paper comes away dry, you’ve done an excellent job in stopping the leak.
Valve Still Leaking After Replacing Damaged Parts
If you notice that the leaking continues, use groove joint pliers and tighten the nut. If that doesn’t solve the issue, you might need to replace the nut. However, before you replace it, make sure to switch off the primary supply line to your home. Then, disassemble the valve without removing it by removing only the handle and the packing nut. After that, remove the valve stem too. After disassembly, wipe the washers with a piece of cloth until they are completely clean. Make sure not to use plastic tape on stem threads. Finally, assemble the valve and turn on the main supply line to your house. If it’s still leaking, replace the entire valve.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the Valve is Turned Off But the Toilet Still Refills?
If that happens, it means that your shutoff valve is not performing well. Turn off the main water supply line and pull the float lever in the tank. It will stop the tank from refilling. However, this approach is just a temporary solution, and you should fix the valve as soon as possible.
What Do I Do if I Turn off the Water Supply to the Toilet but Still Hear a Trickling Sound?
The trickling sound shows that you have a problem with either the flush or fill valve. In that case, you need to either fix or replace them.
In What Direction Do I Rotate the Valve to Shut It Off?
The valve needs to be rotated clockwise, which will tighten it and prevent the water from reaching the toilet.
How Long Does a Shutoff Valve Last?
Most homes nowadays have compression valves that don’t last too long. On average, a compression valve fails will only last about ten years.
Although a damaged shutoff valve can be a major problem, it will be easy to fix if you follow these instructions. And worst case, if nothing works, buying a new valve is a relatively affordable solution.