> So what's the general group think on which type of valve to choose for
> house water lines? Gate (I think they are... The ones with the little
You're probably thinking of a "globe" valve. Gate valves have the same
handwheel & packing nut, but not the little rubber washer that needs to be
replaced occasionally. However, because of the lack of a resilient seal in
the valve, Gate valves sometimes don't seal completely and so are only used
in applications where a little leakage won't hurt anything, or where
"straight-through" flow is important.
> or 1/4 turn ball valves?
Ball valves have their own problems. Probably the most significant for home
use is that it's very difficult to control the flow. They do make good
shutoff valves though, especially for locations that aren't used very much.
> I _hate_ having all these old valves in our house (built in the
> 50's) that
> can't be shut off /on without leaking around the stem. Don't talk to me
> about tightening packing nuts either... On the old valves, I can tighten
> the damn things until I think I'm going to snap something and they still
> leak a little.
So have you tried replacing the packing ? It's certainly possible for the
stem to be so badly worn that new packing won't solve the problem, but 99%
of the stem leakage problems I've seen have been cured by new packing. And
if the nut is hard to turn, almost certainly there isn't enough packing.
You should be able to almost completely lock the stem from turning, before
the nut "feels like something will break".
Stem packing comes in a variety of materials. ISTR paying about $3 at Home
Depot for the Teflon-coated stuff, but that maybe 10 years ago (and I still
have some left). Can't really say it works any better than graphite ...
They also have new stems for many valves ... changing a stem is a lot easier
than changing the whole valve, IMO.