Loosen A Stuck Shut Off Valve

There’s nothing worse than getting ready to start a plumbing project only to realize that you can’t turn off the water supply. Plumbing valves have a way of freezing up over time, and that can make it difficult to do even the simplest repairs. In this post, we’ll explore the best ways to unfreeze stuck valves.

The Traditional Grease-and-Wrench Approach

The traditional grease-and-wrench approach to opening a stuck shut off valve is basically a matter of trial and error. Start by turning off the main water shut off valve to the house. Then, spray down the stuck valve with penetrating oil. Penetrating oil is a special type of grease sold at home improvement centers and hardware stores. It has unusually low viscosity, which allows it to penetrate very tight spaces easily.

Once you’ve sprayed the valve, grip the valve with a plumber’s wrench, and use a rubber mallet or a hammer to tap it gently on the handle. “Gently” is the key word here. Many older plumbing fixtures can break easily, or can become so fixed in their positions that reverberations can break tiles in the wall around them.

If this doesn’t work and the shutoff valve remains fixed in place, try heating the valve with a hair dryer. Spray down the valve again with the penetrating oil, and then try again with the wrench. Doing this over and over again, you should be able to loosen your stuck valve.


Valves become stuck because they don’t get used very often. Minerals from hard water, rust and sometimes even random gunk can get trapped inside the valves, cementing them in place. The easiest way to prevent this problem from happening in the future is to turn on and off every shut off valve in your home twice a year.

Mark your calendar to do this at the same time that you check your smoke alarm batteries or replace your HVAC filters. To make the job easier, consider purchasing this special wrench that grips angle stop handles and fits easily into tight spaces.

A Handy Tool for Loosening Sink Valves

As a side note, we wanted to address an issue that relates to stuck valves inside sink faucets. Unsticking valves in faucets can do damage to the faucet as well as the basin. This makes it difficult to make even the simplest repairs, like changing out a washer. There’s a very useful product on the market called the Easy Tap Splitter which enables you to use the sink faucet as leverage against the stuck washer. This keeps the faucet firmly in place and prevents the basin from cracking. You can see a video of the Easy Tap Splitter in action here:

You can purchase a kit for yourself here.

Or, you can just call Terry’s Plumbing and we’ll come fix your valves and change your washers and go to all the trouble for you. We have all the tools we need to get your plumbing projects completed quickly and efficiently. For more information, contact us today!