Plumbing: What kind of water shut off valve is this?
September 12, 2020 10:35 AM   Subscribe

The toilets in our new apartment have this water shut off valve. I don't recognize it, and can't identify it online. (I'm installing a bidet.)
posted by shrimpetouffee to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
I don’t know what kind of fitting is coming from the wall, but that wide adapter is a “hose thread” adapter. Finding an adapter for that setup is going to be challenging.

And that setup looks ultra sketchy and I would be extra careful cracking in to it.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:04 AM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

When in doubt, I check with the Terry Love forums, maybe post there?
posted by aramaic at 11:17 AM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sorry, my answer was way too vague: it’s specifically called “Garden Hose Thread” sometimes as as NHR (National Hose). The standard diameter is labeled as 3/4”
posted by furnace.heart at 11:22 AM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm no expert, but my gut feeling is that is not a shut-off valve at all, and is, instead, a jury-rigged, not up to code anomaly. I'm guessing if you ever need to shut off water flow to your toilet, you will have to do so via the main water shut-off valve.
posted by SageTrail at 11:44 AM on September 12, 2020 [11 favorites]

I'm with SageTrail. To me these look like reverse osmosis quick connect fittings, but I don't recognize the specific system.
posted by RichardP at 11:49 AM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: No, it is definitely a shut-off valve, you can see the marking with the arrow for "On". You would (I think) rotate the ring on the right to shut off the water. I don't believe it actually has hose threads, the body of the valve just has a bigger diameter so you can get some purchase and screw it closed. I guess I would call it a push-on elbow shutoff valve, to make something up. I Googled about 10 pages of shutoff valve pictures and didn't see anything like it. But yes, it's super sketchy. The connection to the supply pipe is one of those push-on fittings that give me (an amateur who has replaced all the toilets in our house) the heebie jeebies. If it actually works as a shutoff valve and doesn't leak when closed, I would leave it be, but be prepared to replace it with a quality all-brass quarter turn valve with a standard compression fitting on short order. They're like $10 and will outlast the pipe they're connected to. Assuming you have copper supply pipes. Yours look, um, blue? So I could be completely wrong.
posted by wnissen at 12:19 PM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That's an "aw, HEYll no".

If that blue pipe coming out of the wall is painted copper, clean it up and install a shutoff valve with a compression-style connection. If it's PEX or some other plastic, use the appropriate connection thereof. You will need to shut off water to the entire apartment to do this.

Whatever that is, it isn't code.
posted by notsnot at 1:26 PM on September 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

First guess was an Accor push-on thing ... but looking now, they don't make any inline shower-style flow control and shutoff valves like that. :( Is there any chance a close-up cellphone / mirror shot of the underside or back shows a part number, etc.?
posted by introp at 2:55 PM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

After a few minutes with Google Image Search, it looks similar to but different from either a through-hull bilge pump fitting for boats or an RV Gray water drain connector.

Is your landlord either an RV or boating enthusiast?
posted by Hatashran at 3:30 PM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with everyone that it looks...unusual. But also looking at the photo it appears there is the word "Off" and an arrow. (Or maybe "On" and and arrow, or maybe some other word and an arrow. It's a bit vague.)

Have you tried simply twisting that part of it. I'd go top towards the wall first and gently, then the other direction also gently. Then maybe a bit less gently (or to be more precise, put some kind of wrench on it, but then still turn quite gently in wrench terms).

If it starts to move then you can experiment & see what happens.

Whatever you do, don't turn or twist or wrench hard enough to break anything. Everything looks plastic there, so "hard enough to break anything" is not very hard.

Also do be aware if you break or crack or snap anything or cause a drip or a leak, you are looking at turning off the water valve to the apartment (at minimum) to stop it, so if you don't have the confidence or experience to twist on it gently enough to not cause breakage, then definitely don't even try.

But, try it gently in both directions is what I personally would do.
posted by flug at 5:51 PM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also, typically the the bidet attachment goes on the bottom of the toilet tank, then the water line connects to that.

Point being, it doesn't connect to the weird looking wall connection setup at all and the only reason you are thinking about the weird-looking contraption is as a way to turn off the water to the toilet.

If you have a different way to turn off all the water to your apartment then you don't need to touch the weird looking wall wart with the possible on/off twisty thing at all.

I would do that if I could (ie, turn off all the water to the apartment rather than messing with strange toilet line contraption to turn off the water their only).

Bypassing weird-looking jimmied-together contraptions and just not touching them is always the best plan, if possible.
posted by flug at 5:59 PM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Put me down in replacing it. Anytime I work on a water fitting like this I have replaced it with a braided metal line and a proper valve. When this plastic mess fails, and it will, it could be some time before you notice, and that would be a disaster. At a minimum a huge mess that you could have prevented with proper fittings, which will cost like 20$. The two suggested repurposed fittings Hatashran found are likely the sort of thing you are looking at. It is not a valve* - turning that fitting won't turn the water off, it will turn that fitting off, so make certain you've shut the water off before touching it.

*At least one I have ever seen - I can't visualize how such a fitting would reliably work. Even the fittings Hatashran found are triple the cost of regular toilet valves.
posted by zenon at 7:53 PM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone!

I brought it up with the maintenance person, and he seemed reluctant to touch the thing.

So I'm just going to leave it alone, for now.

I do know where the main water shut-off valve, which is on the ceiling of the garage, of all places.

Strange that this is such a sketchy setup, considering this is actually a modern, relatively expensive townhome apartment. Been living here for ~2 months, and everything else about it is great, so far.
posted by shrimpetouffee at 11:04 PM on September 16, 2020

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