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Broken Valves are Scary

Posted by Retired Geezer on May 23, 2006

In Idaho, as well as most cold areas, the sprinkler turn-on valve is located pretty deep underground. Sometimes 4 feet or more.

Occasionally the valves require a little Extra torque to turn them.

This is what happens when a little Extra is Too Much.


See how the brass threads have been stripped?

This is the reason I won't risk turning on valves that appear to be stuck.

I'm Old.

I don't want to dig a 4 feet deep hole in your yard, big enough to swing a wrench in.


4 Responses to “Broken Valves are Scary”

  1. Alan said

    If you don’t want to dig it up, which I assume would be necessary to replace it, how do get the valve turned on, i.e., unstuck?

  2. blogidaho said

    Make sure you’re turning the ‘right’ valve. In other words make sure that you aren’t trying to open the drain which might be already open. I try a little bit in both directions first.

    I recently went on a job that had a stuck valve. I tried using the homeowner’s 1/4″ wire curb key. It twisted (torqued) almost a quarter turn without moving the valve. I could have used my Macho Curb Key to turn it but I told the wife that *I* wouldn’t turn it on because I was afraid it would break.

    Her husband turned it on without breaking it and they called me back to adjust the sprinks.

    Just be prepared to dig if you want to chance it.

  3. Ryan said

    the brass valve on our system seems to be leaking again from the valve core screw? (the part of the valve where the key fits into to turn it on and off (the top bolt in the picture)) Does this just need to be tightened with a plumbers wrench or something different. The valve core is not that old, I just had it replaced last spring and had the system blown out last fall…


  4. blogidaho said

    I would hazard a guess that it might be the ‘packing nut’ or ‘stem nut’ that tightens around the stem of the handle.
    Is it something that you can reach, or do you have to dig to get to it?
    I’ll see if I can find a picture of the tool on the internet…

    I found the wrench, it’s called a ‘Basin Wrench’.
    Mine is about 6 feet long, for reaching down into the hole.
    It’s kind of tricky to get it on the stem (packing) nut.

    Hope that helps.

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