Have you ever wondered why your single-lever faucet starts dripping after years of use and little maintenance? Chances are really good that the simple reason why is because the ball valve that controls the flow of water from your pipes to your faucet has begun to break down.
The ball valve is the simple ball-shaped mechanism that works as the “on and off” switch for your faucet. If you are unsure if your faucet does use a ball valve to control the flow of water, the easiest way to tell is to look for the dome-shaped cap underneath the faucet handle.
Once you have identified the dome-shaped cap, you can be sure that you are looking at a ball valve faucet. While you could certainly employ a plumber or faucet specialist to come and do the replacement, it is also a job that people with very little training can do. If you are interested in the process of replacing a ball valve, then you have absolutely come to the right place.
Basics of ball valves
Before we break down how to replace a ball valve, let’s break down some basic facts about these fantastic marvels of modern engineering.
Ball valves have the name of ball valves because they feature both a ball and a stem. The ball has a small opening inside of it and when the valve is on, that opening lines up perfectly with the pipe, thus allowing a free flow of liquid through the pipe. By turning the lever, the ball then rotates so that the opening in the valve turns to be perpendicular to the flow, turning it off.
One fantastic thing about ball valves is that they are known to be highly durable and are able to last for a very long time under heavy use. They can also work perfectly fine even if they have not been used for a long time.
Ball valves are also highly ideal when an operator needs to be able to turn things on and off without losing and pressure. Ball valves are known to seal very well and are really simple to use because a small turn of the handle will be the difference between a valve being on or off.
Beyond that, they are highly reliable.
With that being said, one thing that they do not have is a more fine or precise control. For that reason, it is considered best to use ball valves in scenarios in which you want an easy shut off or start up and do not need to fine tune the amount of flow that is going through the valve. That is one of the main reasons why ball valves are referred to within the industry simply as “shut off valves.”
One other thing to keep in mind is that ball valves tend to cost a bit more than gate valves. Finally, one other thing to consider as a potential disadvantage is the fact that ball valves require a certain amount of space to operate because there is a need for a full 90-degree turn in order to use the ball valve control lever.
How to replace your kitchen faucet’s ball valve
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s go step by step on how you can replace your ball valve like a pro on your own!
1. The first thing you have to do is stop the water from your faucet. If you do now have a working shutoff valve for this specific sink, you are going to have to turn off the main shutoff valve for the home. From there, you will expose the Allen screw by lifting up the handle of the faucet and loosen it. Find the cap and stem to the ball valve under the now removed faucet handle.
2. Loosen the cap and remove it to see the ball valve’s cam and seal. Then, remove the ball itself to find the valve two water seals. Remove the old water seals and springs and pry off the O-ring spout seals.
3. Purchase a faucet repair kit for your brand. The kit will contain new valve seals and springs as well as a brand-new valve ball. If special tools are needed, they will most likely be included in this pack as well.
4. If you are replacing the spout, you will now install the new O-rings that will spout seal by greasing them up and guiding them into grooves that seal the valve body. From there, lightly coat them with faucet grease and install them with the narrow end pointing upwards. Then place the new valve ball in the valve body. Look for the alignment pin on one side of the valve body. That will help you align the long slot of the valve ball with the pin as you insert it into the valve body.
5. Place the new valve cam and seal it in the faucet body on top of the ball. After that you will want to line up the orientation tabs on the cam and seal with the designated slot on the body of the faucet. Next, screw on the dome-shaped cap and tighten it with your pair of pliers. Slide the faucet handle over the valve ball’s exposed stem and tighten it in place by fastening the screw. Then move your handle to the off position before you go and turn the water supply back on. Move the faucet handle up and down to make sure that there are no leaks and that the movement is smooth.
There you have it. If you follow these simple steps, you should have no trouble replacing a worn down or leaking ball valve in your kitchen’s single-lever faucet.