How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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What is the average life expectancy of plumbing fixture water shut-off valves?
Sunday, December 22, 2019
How long does a water shut-off valve last?
You can expect a shut-off valve to last about 10 to 25 years, with an average of 20 years. But, if they are not “exercised” every year or two, there is good chance a valve will be freeze prematurely in the open position just when you really need it to close for a plumbing emergency or repair.
"The problem that most people have with shut off valves is that their lack of regular use makes them freeze up,” according to our plumber friend, James Freeman, of J.W. Freeman Plumbing, in Gainesville, Florida. "They can even get so stiff that they will leak behind the handle, snap the stem or even break off a pipe in the wall when you actually try to use them. The valves are handy when they work, but often we will need to shut down the water to the house and change the shut off valve at the same time we are doing a fixture repair because they have not been put to use often enough."
It’s also a good idea to change all your older fixture shut-off valves if you find a couple that are frozen, and we suggest quarter-turn valves for your replacements. See our blog post Which plumbing fixtures require water shut off valves in a home? for more info.
Home inspectors do not test shut-off valves because of the possibility they will leak when operated. Also, the standards of practice of both nation home inspector associations and the State of Florida specifically exclude testing valves as a requirement for a home inspection.
Here’s a bar graph that compare the life expectancy of shut-off valves to other home plumbing fixtures.
Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?
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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING PIPES:
NOTE: These life expectancies are based on data provided by InterNACHI, NAHB, FannieMae, and our own professional experience. Because of the numerous variables that can affect a lifespan, they should be used as rough guidelines only, and not relied upon as a warranty or guarantee of future performance.
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