General Question

Blueroses's avatar

Can you help me with an urgent plumbing issue?

Asked by Blueroses (17453 points ) January 27th, 2012

I started my washing machine and the hot water hose popped off!

Water was pouring out all over the basement floor. In my panic, I managed to yank the plug out of the wall and think clearly enough to run to the crawlspace and shut off the main water valve.

Now, of course, I have no water anywhere in the house and I can’t find a shutoff valve for just that appliance.

The problem area is in this picture. I can’t just reattach the hose. It looks like a solder broke on the copper.

There is a toggle (highlighted) between the 2 inlets but it won’t budge.

It’s in the basement. There’s a bathroom on the other side of the wall and another bathroom above it. The water heater and main valve are on the same level.

Do you have any idea where I should look for a shut off for the washer? I can’t afford to call a plumber and my dad can’t get here for another 5 hours.

Should I try to loosen that toggle with WD40 and a rubber mallet? Or does that have anything to do with water flow to the machine?

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35 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

In the near term, you should be able to shut the valve at the hot water heater, which would at least let you get cold water to the rest of your house.

CWOTUS's avatar

That IS the shutoff for the washer. You’re stuck with no water in the house until you make the correct fix.

The correct fix is to replace that toggle.

The intermediate fix is… to simply replace the hot water hose with a new one, if the toggle itself isn’t cracked, broken or de-soldered from the copper tubing. (From your description that sounds unlikely.)

I’m kind of puzzled, though. Normally (in the US) the hot water is on the left, cold on the right. And I can see that there’s no hose on the right side, but you said you took off the hot water hose.

You did the right thing for now.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I agree with @thorninmud. It looks like the shutoff at the washer may have broken off with the hose, shutting off the hot water should at least give you cold water in the rest of the house until your dad can get there to fix it.

You could try to get the broken fixture off and put on a new hose, but I wouldn’t use a mallet. If you don’t have a channel lock or a pliers that will fit better to wait for the right tools.

CWOTUS's avatar

@thorninmud

Your plan to shut off the hot water at the water heater and then have cold water in the rest of the house may not work if that toggle is truly broken. That’s a mixing valve, and cold water will spew out of it if it can’t be isolated. (I liked the thought, though.)

Those valves are great, but they need to be used. I toggle mine off after each time I use the washer. Using valves keeps them functional (and usually lets you know with some advance warning when they’re going south).

thorninmud's avatar

@CWOTUS Really? I’m not seeing how you can have a mixing valve with a hot water AND a cold water hose coming out of it. Wouldn’t a mixing valve by definition have a hot and cold inlet, but only one outlet? And don’t washers do all the mixing internally?

CWOTUS's avatar

I stand corrected. Thanks. You’re right; it’s not a mixing valve, but a dual shutoff. There shouldn’t be any mixing occurring in that valve body.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If you can get the broken coupling off the right side of the valve, you could screw in a garden hose with an on demand nozzle that should let you turn the hot water back on until you can fix it.

Blueroses's avatar

Yeah. I’m not sure about it being a mixing valve either, since there are 2 hoses running to the machine. There are individual shut off valves – you can see it on the cold water side – but, unfortunately the hot water valve is on the broken side of the hose, lying uselessly on the floor at the moment.

Not having any luck moving that center toggle. I will keep that good advice in mind in the future of keeping it functional by using it occasionally.

Next question then is, where do I shut off the water heater? It’s electric and easily accessible, but I don’t see anything obvious that I can turn.

@westriverrat Good suggestion, but I can’t move that coupling either. It’s good and stuck.

thorninmud's avatar

@Blueroses There should be two pipes feeding into the top of the water heater. One should have a valve handle on it. That’s the water supply to the heater.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Turning off the water heater itself won’t stop the water from flowing, but it will prevent the heating core from burning up if there is no water in the tank. You can probably do that from the electrical panel, the water heater should be clearly labelled. (probably a good idea if the only shut of is on the intake of the heater.)

Check the water pipes near the water heater, if there is a shut off for the water heater it will be on one or both of the pipes leading to or from the tank. If there are more than one, the blue one should be the cold water intake and the red one is the hot water out to the house. You would want to shut off the red one.

Blueroses's avatar

It’s a fairly new water heater. There are no things that I recognize as a valve on either intake pipe but there’s a silver flange on the top that I believe could be flipped. Is that it?

The water heater tank is full, so if turning it off won’t stop the water flow, should I even mess with it?

thorninmud's avatar

If you shut off the cold water supply, the tank won’t be under pressure (since the broken valve would have already released the existing pressure), so no water should flow. Just having water in the tank won’t make it flow; it needs to be pressurized by incoming water. This is what you already effectively did by turning the water off at the main valve.

flutherother's avatar

I’m probably being stupid here but would tightening those screws not shut off the water supply?

thorninmud's avatar

What’s the brand of the heater?

WestRiverrat's avatar

If the tank is full, you don’t need to shut the power off to the heater. So no don’t mess with it.

Blueroses's avatar

It’s Bradford White brand. I’ve got the manual here.

The power box for the heater is in the same closet. Would I flip that fuse and then close the manual intake valve on the cold water supply? Would that stop water from going through the hot water pipes?

thorninmud's avatar

No need to turn off power. It’s the manual intake valve on the cold water supply that needs closing. If there’s no water coming into the heater, then you can turn the main valve back on and you’ll have cold water again.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think all you have to do is close the valve on the cold water supply. If the water doesn’t syphon out of the tank you don’t need to shut off the power.

But if you decide you want to shut off the power, you would do it at that panel.

Blueroses's avatar

OK. I think I’m understanding. Thanks for your patience, all. There are 2 pipes attached to the heater. One feels very warm to the touch, the other is cooler but not cold. Both have valves that I can see now that I got a light. Should I turn off both?

thorninmud's avatar

Both would be fine

Blueroses's avatar

Going to try that then. Fingers crossed.

thorninmud's avatar

Good Luck!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Good luck, it should work. GAs @thorninmud

Blueroses's avatar

Excellent! Thank you so much! I have running water again and no hot flood. At least I can finish my laundry in cold so I have something to wear to Home Depot!

You guys are wonderful. I wish I could give more GAs all around.

thorninmud's avatar

Yeah, happy weekend! God, I hate plumbing

YoBob's avatar

Ok, I haven’t read the whole thread so apologies if this has already been answered.

It appears as though in leu of a traditional hose bib whoever plumbed this substituted a threaded end on to which he attached a copper shut off fitting. It appears that all that has really happened here is that the copper shut off fitting has failed. This should be a very simple fix.

The plastic ring above where your hose popped off should simply unscrew from the fitting. You will need to go to the hardware store and get another shutoff fitting to screw on. they are pretty darned inexpensive, then you can just screw your washer hose on to the other end of the new fitting.

Good luck!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Trust a guy named Bob to come up with a real fix instead of just a work around. GA @YoBob

If you hurry and get a little lucky @Blueroses you could have it fixed and dinner on the table for your dad when he gets there.

Blueroses's avatar

@YoBob I’m sure you’re correct. That’s exactly what the broken end looks like, but it will take better tools and more brute strength than I have alone to remove that coupling.

Since the shutoff toggle is frozen and inoperable, am I right in thinking it might be just as easy to replace that entire intake unit?

WestRiverrat's avatar

As long as you are fixing the one fitting, you might as well do both. They were probably both put in at the same time so the cold water fitting may be near failing too.

HungryGuy's avatar

The little lever in the photo is the valve that turns off the water to your washer. If it won’t move, it’s probably corroded from having never been closed. You’ll need to call a plumber to replace it. It will cost extra, but there are plumbers who will come out 24/7 for emergencies. Fortunately, replacing that little faucet thingy is an easy fix.

Blueroses's avatar

@WestRiverrat Yep. That was my thought too. Those screws that @flutherother pointed out look like they hold the unit with both hose fittings and the shutoff lever. If it just comes away in one piece, I thought it might be best to replace that piece.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Blueroses it probably would be best to replace that part, but if it is soldered to the pipes in back, it will be cheaper to replace the fittings in front, and something your dad probably has the tools to do himself.

I am thinking the previous tenant added the shut off fittings in front when they had a waterhose break and the shutoff wouldn’t work.

Blueroses's avatar

That makes a lot of sense @WestRiverrat. Of course those front shutoff valves were almost useless in this situation.

I say almost useless because in finishing the laundry load, I noticed the cold water backflowing from the machine through the disconnected hot water hose. Being able to shut that valve fixed the issue. Well, patched the issue, at least.

Blueroses's avatar

Prologue:

@WestRiverrat You are prophetic. I found the channel-lock pliers and got the coupler off. For some happy reason, I had a pair of brand new washer hoses sitting in the garage so I didn’t have to try to pry off the broken end. The neighborhood hardware store had a replacement piece all brass so I bought 2 for $13.

Attached to the wall and to the new hose… hot water and dinner in the oven before dad got here. I’ll replace the other side tomorrow.

Thanks again, everybody!

YoBob's avatar

Replacing the entire unit is a non-trivial task. OTOH, it would give you the opportunity to fix it right by putting in better valves. However, that is a job that would be best left to professionals (and they ain’t cheap). Just replacing the broken valve is a 5 minute task. As for brute force, unless it is glued on it’s nothing a set of “monkey pliers” (long handle, curved jaws, adjustable for widths from zero to several inches) won’t take care of.

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