How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

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:

How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?

Can galvanized steel pipe still be used for new water lines in a house? 

How can I tell if I have cast iron pipes in my house? 

Why can't a sanitary tee be used for a horizontal-to-horizontal drain pipe connection? 

What is the difference between green and white sewer drain pipes?

Is a washing machine drain hose required to be secured at the standpipe?

What are the abandoned pipes sticking out of the wall in my house?  

What are the code requirements for plumbing vent terminations?

What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?

What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains? 

What is a "combination waste and vent" in a plumbing system? 

What is a building trap?  

What is a galvanized nipple?

What are the pipes sticking out near my water valves?

How do you accurately find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

What is the difference between water pipe and sewage (waste) pipe? 

Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water? 

Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left? 

What is a dielectric union? 

What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater? 

If all the plumbing drains have water in them and you can still smell sewer gas, what's causing the problem?  

How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

Why is there a flexible accordion pipe under the sink? 

What is the difference between PVC and ABS plumbing pipe?

What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe? 

What are the pipes on my roof? 

• How can I find out what type of water pipe runs underground from the water meter to the house (service pipe)?

What is a P-trap?

Why is old galvanized steel water pipe a problem for homebuyers?

What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem? 

• Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable?

• Can you connect CPVC pipe directly to a gas water heater?  

     Visit our PLUMBING and LIFE EXPECTANCY pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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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