How to Loosen a Corroded Water Valve

Plumbing repairs can be complex, but adding a problematic water valve into the mix makes the process even more complicated. Nothing is worse than having all of your tools and replacement parts ready with time to handle the repair, only to find out that the water valve is severely corroded.

In this article, we will review how to loosen a corroded water valve so that you can continue with your repair project.

What Causes Water Shut-Off Valves To Stick?

Stuck water shut-off valves are a nuisance, no matter which way you look at them. They can become firmly lodged in place for a number of reasons, but most commonly, mineral buildup or corrosion is the culprit.

Mineral buildup is more common in older plumbing, as hard water can cause deposits to accumulate over time. On the other hand, corrosion on the valve’s exterior can freeze it in place as well.

Since most people don’t make a habit of tinkering with their water shut-off valves, they often sit for long periods between miscellaneous plumbing projects. Over time, rust and minerals may build up, creating a solid bond that fixes the valve into place.

Without regular movement, the rust and minerals don’t break up, thus creating issues that keep the valve stuck closed. So, if you have a mishap with a faucet and need to cut off the water supply quickly, you may find that the corroded water shut-off valve beneath your sink refuses to budge.

How To Loosen A Stuck Water Valve

How To Loosen A Stuck Water Valve

There are several ways you can go about loosening a stuck water shut-off valve. Refrain from using excessive force in an attempt to free the valve, as you may break the valve itself or the pipe. However, before you throw in the towel and call in a plumber, try these methods.

Clean The Valve

If there is visible buildup on the water valve, start by cleaning the valve the best you can. Complete this process before you proceed with the following methods. For this process, you’ll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Wire brush
  • Cloth

Start by pouring a small amount of vinegar on the visible buildup on the water valve. Using the wire brush, scrub the deposits adhered to the valve. Once you’ve removed as much of the buildup as you can, continue with the following methods.

Use A Penetrating Oil

Once the valve is clean, try using penetrating oil. It may be able to work its way into the valve and loosen things up. For this method, you’ll need:

  • Penetrating oil for water valves
  • Hammer

Apply a few drops of the penetrating oil to the stuck valve. Allow the oil to work its way into the valve body. Using the hammer, gently tap the valve to help the oil penetrate the valve. Allow the oil to soak in for a few minutes.

Old Water Valve

After the oil has soaked on the valve, try to loosen the valve. If the valve budges even just a small amount, apply more penetrating oil, then try tapping it with the hammer again. You may have to repeat the process several times before the valve thoroughly loosens and is moveable again.

Can you spray WD-40 on a water shut-off valve? Absolutely. If you’d prefer to try WD-40 over another type of lubricant, go ahead. It shouldn’t damage the fixture, so try using it instead of the penetrating oil we mentioned in this method.

Use Heat

After you try using penetrating lubricant on the valve, and it still won’t budge, try using heat. For this method, you’ll need:

  • Water-based degreaser
  • Cloth
  • Hairdryer
  • Wrench

If you attempt to loosen the water valve with penetrating lubricant, it is imperative that you remove all said oil from the valve before you use heat. Some lubricants are flammable, so always proceed with caution when following with heat.

Thoroughly clean the water valve with a water-based degreaser, ensuring you remove the entirety of the lubricant. Wipe away the excess. Once it is clean once again, use the hair dryer to heat the valve.

Slowly warm up the body of the water valve with the hairdryer. The heat should help the valve’s body expand enough to allow the moving parts to become mobile once again. Once it warms up, use the wrench to try and loosen it.

Use A Wrench

Water valve and wrench

Although this method seems like it should be the go-to method, you can snap the pipe if you’re not careful. However, if none of the previous techniques seemed to work, give this one a go. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wrench

Connect the wrench to the valve handle, then gently force the valve open. Ensure that you hold the valve body firmly in its place to prevent the joints from twisting during the process. Be careful as you do so, as too much force can cause the valves to break, which is a nightmare in itself.

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