Having a stuck water valve is a common plumbing issue that can occur in homes and buildings with copper, galvanized steel, or iron piping. Over time, these types of pipes are prone to rust, corrosion, and mineral buildup. This gradual accumulation can eventually cause the valve to become stuck in place and unable to turn on or off properly.
The consequences of stuck water valves range from annoying to severe. At best, you may experience decreased water pressure, steady dripping from the valve, or difficulty shutting the water on and off. However, a badly stuck valve can completely stop water flow, leading to major inconveniences. Ignoring a stuck valve can also lead to pipe bursts and water leaks down the road due to excess pressure building up behind the blocked valve.
Luckily, there is an easy and effective solution for freeing stuck water valves – penetrating oils. Keep reading to learn why penetrating oils work so well and discover the best options to use for getting your stubborn water valves moving freely again.
Table of Contents
1. PB Blaster Penetrating Oil – Overall Best
The PB Blaster brand offers a penetrating lubricant particularly popular in the plumbing trade for addressing stuck water valves and pipe components.
- Fast-acting formula begins working in seconds
- Low surface tension penetrates tiny spaces
- Affordable pricing for homeowners
- Less viscous than some competitors
- Strong odor some users dislike
Technicians praise this oil for beginning to work within seconds of application. The quick action helps save time and frustration when dealing with stubborn stuck valves.
Low Surface Tension
With excellent wetting abilities and capillary action, the PB Blaster formula readily penetrates and spreads into tiny spaces most competitors cannot access as effectively.
Affordable Price Point
Available in a range of sizes, PB Blaster offers an affordable option compared to some other commercial-grade options, while still delivering professional-quality results. This makes the oil reasonable for regular homeowners to keep on hand for occasional stuck valve issues.
2. Liquid Wrench Penetrating Oil
Another leader in the penetrating lubricant sphere, Liquid Wrench earns high marks from both DIYers and tradespeople alike for freeing stuck parts of all kinds.
- Contains graphite for added lubrication
- Used reliably by professional plumbers
- Wide range of sizes fit different applications
- Requires more frequent reapplication than leading brands
- Runs thinner than some other oils
Contains Graphite Lubricant
The addition of graphite gives the oil added lubricating powers. Graphite molecules help prevent future sticking of components by leaving behind a smooth coating.
Used by Plumbers
With proven results across many trades, professional plumbers regularly rely on Liquid Wrench Penetrating Oil to deal with stuck valves and speed up their repair jobs.
Range of Sizes Available
Coming in small 2-3oz containers up through gallon jugs, Liquid Wrench offers versatility to buy only what you need for small household tasks or larger-scale commercial applications.
3. Kano Aerokroil Penetrating Oil – Top Rated
Lesser known by the general public but boasting a cult following, Kano Aerokroil remains a staple penetrating lubricant in aviation and industrial circles.
- Highest spreadability rating of all penetrating oils
- Used even in demanding aviation and industrial settings
- Displaces moisture better than competitors
- Not as readily available at local hardware stores
- Relatively expensive price point
- Slower initial penetrating action than fast-acting brands
High Spreadability Formula
Aerokroil contains a proprietary blend of solvents that gives it reputedly the highest spreadability rating of any penetrating oil on the market, around twice that of competitors.
Used in Aviation Industry
Aerokroil won over even military and commercial airline operations to become an approved production item due to its effectiveness minimizing stuck fuel valves and other components.
Excellent Water Displacement
Multiple independent tests confirm Aerokroil’s superior performance when it comes to dissolving and displacing moisture that leads to stuck parts vulnerable to corrosion.
Common Causes of Stuck Water Valves
There are three main things that can cause water valves to become stuck over time:
Water naturally contains mineral solvents like calcium, magnesium, and silica. As water flows through pipes, these minerals accumulate along the inside of the pipes and fixtures. The gradual mineral buildup forms crusty deposits that can make valves difficult to turn. Mineral deposits are especially prevalent with hard water and corroded pipes.
With metal water valves and pipes, rust poses an issue. When moisture causes iron pipes to corrode, it creates rust flakes and particles inside the pipes. These rust deposits then cling to valves, impeding their movement and range of motion.
Old Age and Wear
The longer a valve has been in use, the more likely it is to get stuck at some point. Pipes expand and contract with temperature changes, putting stress on fixtures over decades of use. Valves can become misaligned or warped. Internal components and washers wear down over time as well. All this regular wear and tear limits how smoothly the valve can turn after years of use.
Signs You Have a Stuck Water Valve
It’s typically easy to recognize when you have a stuck water valve in your home. Here are some telltale signs:
Reduced Water Flow
If turning the tap or accessing hot water suddenly seems sluggish, that often indicates an issue with proper water flow coming from a valve that is not opening all the way. The stuck valve is restricting the amount of water coming through the pipes. You may notice lower water pressure throughout the house when showering or doing laundry.
Loud squeaks or screeches coming from pipes and valves usually means there is friction occurring. A valve that should spin freely getting stuck likely causes these sounds as metal scrapes against buildup deposits while trying to turn.
You may spot moisture around a valve on pipes or corroded mineral stains from water droplets. This points to small leaks coming from the valve components that cannot seal properly while stuck. Leaks tend to worsen over time if stuck valves go unaddressed.
Why Penetrating Oils are Effective
With the pesky causes and signals of stuck water valves covered, penetrating oils provide the ideal solution. Here’s a look at how they work to free stuck valves and why they work better than other options:
How Penetrating Oils Work
Their formulation allows penetrating oils to work their way into tiny crevices and gaps caused by things like mineral deposits or rust. They utilize three key methods of action:
Penetrating lubricants contain solvents and surfactants that alter surface tension, allowing the oil to exhibit capillary action. This lets it travel into spaces as narrow as 1 millionth of an inch wide. The oil wicks into cracks and crevices through moisture absorption.
The surfactants also help the oil displace any existing moisture from the stuck area. Removing this moisture prevents further corrosion and assists with loosening rust bonds and mineral deposits.
Finally, penetrating oils leave behind an ultra-fine lubricating film. This slick substance then makes components like valves and hinges easier to operate and resistant to future sticking when you go to turn them.
Benefits of Using Penetrating Oils on Stuck Valves
There are several advantages that specially formulated penetrating oils hold over other potential options for freeing stuck valves:
Break Down Rust and Mineral Deposits
The oils actively break down bonds causing sticking due to rust and calcified minerals. They dissolve these connections better than other lubricants.
Quick and Effective
You only need to apply penetrating oils for a short time before they start working at dissolving buildup. Most products recommend letting them soak 15 minutes or less before taking effect.
The oils get to work loosening stuck valves without needing to take apart pipe components. They provide a gentle yet potent solution compared to physically dismantling hardware.
The Best Penetrating Oils for Freeing Stuck Water Valves
Penetrating oils vary widely in their ingredients, efficacy, and intended applications. With so many options on the market claiming to be the best, it helps narrow down the top-performing choices recommended specifically for stuck water valves. Here are three penetrating oils well-suited to getting your valves moving freely again.
Using Penetrating Oils Correctly on Water Valves
While the best penetrating oils do the heavy lifting when freeing stuck valves, getting the most from them relies on using proper technique as well. Here are some tips to follow:
Clean the Area
Before applying oil, thoroughly clean around the stuck valve and pipes with dish soap or other mild detergent and water. This removes grease and grime so the lubricant can access hard-to-reach spots easier.
Generously Apply Penetrating Oil
Aim the applicator straw directly at crevices around bolts, handles, and hinges. Apply liberally and let it pool, allowing maximum penetration. Reapply oil every 5-10 minutes for faster action.
Let it Soak In
Leave the penetrating oil to soak anywhere from 20 minutes up to a few hours before attempting to work the valve. This gives it ample time to seep behind mineral deposits and dissolve rust corrosion.
Try Operating the Valve
Finally, gently try turning the valve handle, opening and closing it to test if the stuck component moves freely again. Reapply more penetrating oil if still stuck and let soak further before retrying. With sufficient time and application, the oil will work its way into sticking points and lubricate the mechanism into smooth operation in most cases.
Be sure to wipe away any excess oil once finished so grime cannot build back up. The penetrating oil film left behind continues lubricating valves to prevent repeat sticking incidents long-term.
What is the fastest acting penetrating oil for stuck valves?
PB Blaster is considered among the very fastest acting penetrating oils, with many reviewers noticing positive results in as little as 10-30 seconds on stuck water valves and other stuck mechanical parts. This makes it an ideal choice when speed is essential.
How long should I let the penetrating oil sit before trying to turn the valve?
Most experts recommend letting penetrating oils soak for at least 15-20 minutes. For best results, allow 1-12 hours or more soak time before attempting to operate the stuck valve. This allows ample time for the active ingredients to break down rust and mineral bonds.
Can I use WD-40 instead?
While WD-40 can work in a pinch, it is not actually formulated to perform as a penetrating oil. The ingredients that make it a decent water displacer and rust inhibitor do not compare to specialty valve lubricants in terms of penetrating ability and loosening stick valves. Stick to commercial valve oils for reliability.
What if the penetrating oil does not work?
In rare instances with severe valve sticking issues, penetrating oils alone might not do the trick. You may need to disassemble the valve fully to manually remove extensive mineral or rust deposits. In other cases, the internal valve components could be damaged enough to require replacement. Calling a professional plumber assists if DIY efforts cannot get valves operational again.
Is there a penetrating oil safe for drinking water pipes?
Yes, the majority of commercially available penetrating valve oils utilize non-toxic formulas safe for use on potable water pipes and plumbing fixtures. They ensure any residual lubricant film left behind will not pose any health risks or change drinking water quality.
Stuck water valves represent a common household plumbing headache. But with the right penetrating oil and some time and effort, freeing that obstinate valve proves an easy fix most of the time. Reach for the PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench, or Kano Aerokroil oil to let capillary action and advanced lubricants do the tough job busting through mineral deposits or oxidation sticking up your valves. With the steps above to apply penetrating oils effectively, you can look forward to smooth operating valves for years before needing to lubricate them again. And avoid the hassle and cost of replacing expensive valve components or calling for emergency plumbing service. Equipped with one of these high-performance penetrating lubricants, you now have a simple solution ready to tackle stuck valves throughout your home plumbing.