Uh, I need to shower, dude.
July 3, 2012 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Emergency Filter: where can I buy a water shutoff wrench on the Philadelphia Main Line this afternoon or tonight?

Due to a miscommunication between my new landlord and the water company, our water was physically shut off today instead of transferred (we moved in yesterday)! Due to the holiday, they won't be out to turn it back on until sometime Thursday.

No amount of pleading or cursing warmed the heart of the bureaucrats.

I'd like to simply turn the water back on. We have the service in our name already, so we aren't stealing anything. I just need to find someplace to buy the wrench.
posted by Netzapper to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I can turn my water on and off at the main using two pipe wrenches. Clamp one to the handle of the other at a 90 degree angle, then clamp the other to the water valve. This will also work with a pipe wrench and an adjustable wrench.

You might have a different or more deeply-set shutoff, though.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:23 PM on July 3, 2012


Have a look if there are any plumbing supply stores in your area, or if the local big box home improvement store has a street key.

Keep in mind that those valves aren't turned very often, and there's a slight--but not insignificant--risk that you'll break something while attempting to open it, even if you have the proper wrench.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:27 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you looking to get into one of the circular water access covers and need to twist the pentagonal bolt head that secures it? If so then you don't need anything special. I have done this before. A crescent wrench cranked down to full contact on just one of the bolt's facets will open it just fine. Don't admit to the water co. that you did this though. They'll haze you for danger liability if your acess cover is in the street.
posted by No Shmoobles at 1:29 PM on July 3, 2012


There's an access port in our yard. But, I believe it's one of the recessed valves down several feet. So, I'm looking for a street key (name provided by RonButNotStupid).

Am I likely to find one at just any hardware store?
posted by Netzapper at 1:37 PM on July 3, 2012


Maybe someone here with more plumbing knowledge can correct me if this is a bad idea, but if I was in this situation and knew my neighbors, this is what I'd probably try doing instead of messing with a water department key: with the neighbor's permission I'd run a garden hose extension from the neighbor's outside spigot to mine, which when both are open would pressurize the water supply in my house. I would open my taps before doing this to bleed out the air in the line and cut off the house-side valve, if I had one, to keep the city supply out until I was sure it was working.
posted by crapmatic at 2:30 PM on July 3, 2012


Maybe someone here with more plumbing knowledge can correct me if this is a bad idea

I am not a plumber, but I've often noticed that being done around here, but to temporary above-ground water mains, not neighboring houses.

The thing to be aware of when doing this is that many municipalities require the installation of backflow devices on outdoor spigots to protect the system from accidental siphoning from swimming pools, fertilizer reservoirs, etc. Usually these are little through-fittings placed on the faucet, though newer construction might have a permanently installed vacuum breaker somewhere behind the outdoor faucets.

I think it's technically feasible, but due to the reduced water pressure, it's probably a bad idea.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:06 PM on July 3, 2012


Can you call 311 or the local equivalent instead of dealing with the water co? In my limited experience, the city controls those valves, and it seems that water access is protected under PA tenant rights.


run a garden hose extension from the neighbor's outside spigot to mine, which when both are open would pressurize the water supply in my house.

You're blowing my mind here. That couldn't work, could it?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 3:08 PM on July 3, 2012


If you shine a flashlight down the hole, what does the valve look like? The wrench you need will depend on the shape of the valve stem.
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:31 PM on July 3, 2012


Thanks everybody! I got a 60" street key from the Do It Best in Wayne for $20. I needed every inch.

The funny bolt holding closed the access port was easily defeated and replaced with locking pliers.

Nothing flooded, broke, or blew up.
posted by Netzapper at 5:00 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


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