1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Valve Body Leaking....

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by bpirger, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    607
    Loc:
    Ithaca NY Area
    Putting together more plumbing to get the addition warm. I pressure tested a good portion of my work (the indoor portion) and no leaks in any of my joints.....but the ball valves were leaking!

    A handful were leaking around the "stem", the actuator of the valve, so tightening up that nut and leak is gone.

    But, I also had two (one a Webstone isolation valve) that was leaking air at the joint where the valve goes together. I tried to tighten this up, but it didn't help.

    So what gives? Do valves often leak here? I have about 16 valves that I put in, and two of them have that vavle body connection leaking.....and have to cut them out and replace?!

    Do these things leak if they were "wet" with water? I don't know what the seal is in there.....but very disappointing to have to cut it out and replace!

    Thanks!

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,716
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    I used to spec industrial balls valves for critical systems and usually paid $30 to 50 each and even then I would get bad batches on occasion. I expect your problems are caused by some valve company going for a lower price point. The other issue is that with a lot of China sourcing, the company may get one good batch of valves and once the supplier in china figures out they are losing money on each valve they figure out a way of cheapening then up or just outright subs the work to another manufacturer. The company that buys them doesnt know there is an issue until a bunch of customers call them up with warrantee issues.

    I got a bunch of sweat in ball valve from Pex supply, on everyone the packing leaked and there is almost no takeup in the top works of the valve. Of course I found this out after sweating in all 6 of them. They are mostly isolation valves but I expect at some point I am going to have to figure out how to repack them.
  3. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3,106
    Loc:
    Falmouth, Michigan
    Are these valves sweat or threaded?
  4. nrcrash

    nrcrash Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Messages:
    158
    Loc:
    MA
    what psi are you testing them at? I had about a 6 that where leaking at this location but they where only extremely small leaks. Once I filled the system with water the leaks took care of themselves.
  5. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,620
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    Heaterman may bo on to something. With lead-free solder it is easy to overheat the plastic (wish it were teflon) seal where the valve body is joined. I've blown them too. The China stuff is also a key point. I always try to use non-china made stuff, although it's getting harder all the time. Conbarco Ind, makes Apollo valves which have been long considered to be the best. Watch out for Apollo International though, as it's their cheaper line which is outsourced. My supplier carrys Watts valves which have been coming from China...........:confused: I'm a die-hard lead-solder on hydronic systems, and I wrap the valve in a wet rag when soldering. Since useing 50/50 (tin/lead) solder, and the wet rag trick, I've not had many leaks on ball valves. Take with a grain of salt, your mileage may vary.

    BTW, I always test with air prior to commissioning as well, 25psi. If it leaks with air it will leak with water, thats my philosophy.

    TS
  6. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    805
    Loc:
    SW Missouri

    Steve is on to a potential cause which could be over-heating when soldered.

    Generally those valves are assembled with a fine thread and green or red loctite. I doubt there is a gasket or o-ring seal in between. If the Loctite is overheated it gets soft and can leak.

    Or bad threads and assembly methods at the factory, I believe that is an import valves.
  7. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    607
    Loc:
    Ithaca NY Area
    These are sweat, not threaded. One of the valves is an isolation valve from Webstone. I think of them as quality. The other is from Pex supply, I believe they are from S.Korea....I think of these as middle of the road. I understand the stem nuts needing to be tightened a touch....but not the valve bodies. I'm no pro, so I could be overheating. In the past, I have destroyed a valve with too much heat.....so I am trying to make sure I hold off on too much heat.

    I walked the pressure up to 50psi....it's down at 8 psi now, 8 hours later. The leaks around the stems was pretty high....could hear the air. The leaks at the body joint is small.....can see the tiny bubbles, but can't hear them.

    I replaced the webstone.....have to replace the Pex Supply valve today. At least it is in an easy place to do....
  8. nrcrash

    nrcrash Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Messages:
    158
    Loc:
    MA
    Mine where from pex supply as well. Did you sweat them on with the ball valves in the open position?
  9. BHetrick10

    BHetrick10 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Central PA
    If you keep the valve open and have the torch facing the the pipe, away from the valve and a wet rag on the other side you should be ok. As soon as the soldier sets either dunk the valve in a bucket of water or wrap a cool wet rag around it. Be careful not to steam burn yourself. I find 75 percent of valves seem to leak at the nut and need tightened usually 1/4 to 1/2 a turn. Some brands of valves I have used didn't have a nut. I was skeptical but none have leaked.
  10. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    607
    Loc:
    Ithaca NY Area
    So does the temperature of the valve during the leak test matter? The addition is cold...sitting at 35F or so. I replaced the valves that were clearly leaking. Now I see another webstone valve (a nice "closely spaced tee" valve with integral shutoff between the two tee's") is leaking at the body! I'm starting to wonder if they all are going to leak to some extent......and makes me wonder if there's something else going on besides just potential overheating.....

    Now, when I installed all the Garn plumbing, I put in about 15 valves, all these nice webstones, etc....never pressure tested....and never had a leak! SO I am starting to wonder if there is something else going on here.....no leaks before, same guy (me), same valves, etc. and now the pressure test is showing concerns with my soapy water spray!
  11. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    607
    Loc:
    Ithaca NY Area
    So how about using 50/50 solder or other Pb based material....melting at a considerably lower temp. Would that make soldering valves/purge tees that much better?
  12. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    805
    Loc:
    SW Missouri
    I took one apart, yes it is just a Loctite connection, no o-ring or gasket.

    We assemble all of our brass components with a Loctite 272 product it works great.

    They could have some bad assemblies. I doubt you have overheated them, usually the flux burns and turns black if you over heat a solder joint.

    You might want to contact Webstone so they can be aware of the problem.

    Attached Files:

  13. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    534
    Loc:
    Maine
    I've had to tighten the packing nut on almost all the 1 1/4 valves I've installed, thread or sweat.

    I've got a tiny leak somewhere, I can't find it and it's driving me nuts! I've got it isolated to one section of pipe that has probably a dozen fitting and two valves. It's easy for me to isolate the section so I've pumped that sucker up to 30 PSI and let it sit for a couple of days. The needle will move the width of the 30 PSI mark. I can never find water when it up and running and soapy water doesn't turn anything up either.

    The only reason I know it's there is my make up water valve is on the fritzs and this summer the system got down to 6-8 psi. That took a long time to happen.

    K
  14. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    805
    Loc:
    SW Missouri

    It's not unusual to find a leaking stem seal on ball valves, probably torqued by a robotic machine somewhere. Also, could the leak could be around the stem seal and water is running around the valve to make it look like the valve assembly connection is leaking?

    Small threaded leaks sometimes disappear when the system warms and pieces expand. The leak detection fluids sometimes work better than soap for finding tiny leaks. They seem to cling to the pipe better, and form larger bubbles.
  15. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,620
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    Bob, could one simply take the valve body apart and use loctite 272 on the fine threads again? That is if one could get the body to split?

    TS
  16. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    805
    Loc:
    SW Missouri
    Sure, that's what I did with the one above. To disassemble a Locktite joint, heat it with the torch a bit. You can smell the Loctite when you get it hot enough. A socket or large Cresent wrench will disassemble it.

    Wire brush the threads and look for problem areas.

    it could be it did not get enough Loctite when it was assembled.
  17. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    607
    Loc:
    Ithaca NY Area
    272 is on its way. Bob, do you routinely place 272 on the threads before installation, or just when there's a known leak? I guess I should sweat pipes into the valve, then take it apart and apply the 272, then use couplings to continue. Seems really dumb! I can cut the pipe from the "nut end' of the valve, unscrew it, apply 272, put it back together, and then sweat in a coupling. Or I guess use threaded valves....but then this is more expensive as it requires more pricey fittings. Those 1.25" threaded male adapters are about $15 a pop! Or in that ballpark anyways....though I think I must be overheating....

    Thanks!
  18. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    607
    Loc:
    Ithaca NY Area
    Just as a follow up, I cut the system apart so I could unscrew the purge tee. Looked like pipe dope on the threads to me....a light brownish flakey stuff. I cleaned it off the threads on both fittings with a fitting brush, applied the 272, and put it back together. Problem solved....leak is gone. So always make sure you can cut into a system to separate a valve and fix, then use a coupler to put it back together.
  19. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    805
    Loc:
    SW Missouri
    Every straight thread we assemble has Loctite as the assembly product. From my experience taking things apart either a red, blue or green Loctite prpduct is used. If the product is assembled with o-rings, intended for disassembly then we do not use Loctite. I have used it on ugly, ripped npt threads also.

    You should be able to solder at any sweat valve or devise, just don't over-heat. Once the solder melts at the fitting, remove the heat.
  20. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    534
    Loc:
    Maine
    So I just retested the part of my system that seems to be giving me trouble. Found yet again a valve stem leaking, I put more pressure then I like on the packing nut and it seems to have stopped. I retested the run (about 25" of 1 1/4" pipe) and after a week at 30 PSI it lost less then a pound, I'm going to guess about 1/2 a pound.

    I tried the leak detector and it didn't show anything. I'm thinking it's still a stem that's leaking. When everything is hot it doesn't seem to leak at all.

    I could drive my self crazy with this stuff. I think I'm just going to chuck some wood in the boiler and forget about it. :)

    K
  21. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    805
    Loc:
    SW Missouri

    Yes many small leaks, or weeps go away when things heat up. It's not un-common to need to tighten the stem packing nuts. Even on good quality, name brand ball valves the stem packing nuts need to be torqued. Many are now robotically assembled.

Share This Page