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Troubleshooting > Quick > Ball Valves and Gate Valves

A gate valve on a commercial heater is compared to a ball-valve drain assembly

All water heaters have a cold-water shutoff valve and some also have one on the hot side. There may be other valves on recirc lines.
There are two types: ball valves and gate valves. Either kind can fail to open or close when you need it, but ball valves are more reliable.

Oodles of people, however, have gate valves. Often, though, valves are installed and not touched again until someone needs to shut off the water. By then, they often don’t work.
To ensure that this does not happen, close and then open the valve, of either type, once a year. Open and shut all the way; don’t leave them half open.

My mentor, Larry Weingarten, has a trick he likes to use: he backs off the packing nut, wraps Teflon around the stem and then retightens the nut, to keep water from leaking there.
Gate valves are prone to dezincification, which can happen in certain kinds of water, and then the stem can snap off.
Ball valves are better, but in all cases, it’s important to buy from a reputable maker.

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