Shut-off valves have a tendency of accumulating ice and mineral residue. You will, of course, not know that this has happened until the need to shut the valve off to fix the sink, bathtub, or pipe arises. Not knowing the right way of freeing stuck valves leads to broken plumbing fixtures, which spell costly repairs. By following the steps given below, however, you can get a stuck valve to work again and finish fixing the broken plumbing fixture.
1. Switch off the water main. Doing this prevents water splashing elsewhere when you move the shut-off valve. The water main connects the water utility line with your home plumbing system and can be found outside or inside the home.
2. Hold the body of the stuck valve using a pipe wrench so it does not move.
3. Find the packing nut of the valve. You can find this under the handle that you grab to turn the valve on or off. If you can find a stem between the body and handle of the valve, you can find the nut at the bottom of the stem.
4. Using a wrench, turn the nut counter-clockwise (to the left) to loosen it. Use a pipe wrench to hold the body of the valve.
5. At this point, you can try to turn on the shut-off valve. If it does not move, tap the body of the valve lightly using a wrench. This frees the stem of build-up. After tapping the body of the valve, try to turn the handle using slip joint pliers, but avoid applying a lot of force.
6. This step applies if the valve still refuses to move. Apply oil under the packing nut so it goes around the stem and into the threads. You may have to remove the handle of the valve if necessary using a screwdriver so you can access the stem. After ten minutes, you can repeat the aforementioned step.
7. Lock vise grip pliers to the stem (if the said part is accessible), and use it to turn the stem a little to the left (counterclockwise). Once you have loosened the stem, make the packing nut tight again, put the handle knob back, and turn the water main back on.
8. Completely open the shut-off valve before you rotate it a little in the opposite direction. This lessens the chance of the valve becoming stuck again.
These are the things you should do to free any stuck plumbing valves. Don’t hesitate to ask for the help of a plumber you know to be reliable if do not know how to do one of the steps or if you do not have the right safety equipment to put on for the task.