How to Turn a Stiff Water Valve

Updated February 21, 2017

Water valves are small knobs located underneath sinks, toilets and all other water connections in a building. When open, these knobs allow water to flow. When closed, they stop the water flow, allowing for plumbing work. Since these knobs are rarely used, they frequently become stuck due to mineral build-up around the base. The process for freeing a stiff water valve is not difficult, but it does require a bit of strength.

Apply a light coat of lubricant spray around the entire bottom of the water valve. Use a dry cloth to wipe away any drips from the surrounding area.

Place a pair of pliers around the nut located at the base of the water valve.

Grip the pliers firmly with one hand and place the other hand on top of the water valve knob.

Hold the valve still while using the pliers to turn the nut slightly counterclockwise. Twist the nut only until you start to feel it move. This slight movement of the nut loosens the debris and mineral build-up around the seal.

Remove the pliers and turn the water valve as normal.


To prevent valves from sticking, turn them off and then back on at least once a year.

Things You'll Need

  • Lubricant spray
  • Cloth
  • Pliers
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About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.