Valves and Faucets – Ask An Expert

Introduction:

jaclo-supply-valve-handle-standard-crossBecause Expert boiler replacement services frequently receive questions pertaining to repair or replacement of valves and faucets commonly found in residential applications, this article has been prepared, as a reference, to provide basic information about several of those devices.

We hope the do-it-yourself homeowner may find this information useful in determining the nature and extent of some of the problems frequently found in their
plumbing and hot water heating systems, as well as helpful when attempting to repair or replace such devices.
Because there are many types of valves and faucets, it is beyond the scope of the article to provide exhaustive descriptions of the materials
and configurations found in every available type.

Water Supplies:
Almost all domestic, potable water supplies are from a distribution
system owned, operated and serviced by a Public Utility, usually a City
or County or tradesmen for insulation jobs like these. In some rural, or remote, areas the water supply may be from
a “drilled”, deep well or a shallow “dug” well.
Occasionally, a source of “spring water” is used. City and County water
supplies may be from rivers, lakes, reservoirs or deep wells. Such
sources usually contain, among other things, air and a variety of
minerals. Where deep wells are the source, sulfur may also be present.
Sulfur is frequently found in domestic well water, but most well water
supplies contain little, or no, air.
Air in domestic water supplies is both “beneficial” and an “annoyance”.

FaucetscutoutAirless water, such as “distilled water” has an unpleasant taste. For
this reason, Utilities with well water sources often incorporate a
feature, in or near the holding reservoir, at the treatment plant,
called an “aerator”. The device resembles a large fountain that forces
the water into the air, where it dissolves some of the air, and falls
back into the reservoir. Small, rural, well water supplies rarely
incorporate “aerator” devices and the water retains its unpleasant
taste, sometimes amplified by the presence of sulfur.

In the past, many municipalities, enjoyed domestic water sources
relatively free from most contaminants such as calcium and silicates.
Users of those water supplies enjoyed relatively trouble free service
from their valves and faucets, unless they abused them by
over-tightening or other physical damage. That advantage has either
become extinct, or is rapidly disappearing because the EPA
(Environmental Protection Agency), in its infinite wisdom, now requires
suppliers of domestic water that is inherently free of minerals to be
mixed with other supply sources that contain such minerals. The excuse
for this ruling is that, because pure mineral free water is an effective
solvent, it MAY dissolve lead from a lead supply pipe to the residence
(some still do exist) or from the solder in copper pipe system,
installed before lead bearing solder was banned. The latter seems most
unlikely.
Corrosion, or coating of valve and faucet parts, due to the presence of
minerals in water supplies, is a major source of deterioration and
malfunction of those devices. Water that is high in mineral content is
known as “hard water.” The effectiveness of soap is greatly impaired by
“hard Water”, but detergents are affected to a lesser degree. The result
of all this is a thriving “water softener” business in nearly every part
of the United States, more costs and more maintenance problems to plague the home owner.

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