The washing machine shut-off valve is an essential piece of safety equipment to keep your laundry area from flooding.
It’s also useful in managing maintenance and repairs, so when it springs a leak or freezes in place it’s time to address the issue.
To tackle this repair, you’ll need a few supplies and a bit of time (if everything goes as planned).
Even if your setup brings a bit more complexity, this is a task most DIY homeowners can manage without calling in the pros.
Step 1 - Unplug the Washing Machine Power Cord
Unplug your washing machine from the power source to avoid accidents. You’ll probably need to move the washing machine out of the way to give yourself adequate workspace.
Step 2 - Turn off the Water Supply to the Laundry Room
Unless you want to deal with a water fountain when you open the water shut-off valve, shut down the water supply to the laundry room before you start tinkering with your plumbing.
You may have a water shut-off in the room or you may have to locate and use the primary shut-off to the house.
Step 3 - Evaluate the Shut-off Valve
Your shut-off valve will be behind the washing machine. Most sit about hip height and include both cold water and hot water valves.
Your hoses should be attached to the valves. Some valves are further down in the wall, behind the drywall, paneling, or other wall finish.
Since your water is turned off at the primary source, you can turn your valves on (if they’re not already) and drain water from the lines.
Step 4 - Remove the Water Hoses from the Water Valve
With a pair of pliers, remove the water hoses from the water valve by turning them counterclockwise.
Place one end of the water supply hose inside a bucket to catch the residual water from the hose as it drains.
Step 5 - Remove Shut-off Valve
If your shut-off valve is easily visible, use a wrench to loosen and remove it.
If it’s been sitting in place for many years or you have hard water corrosion, it may take some convincing. Attach a pipe to the end of your wrench for added leverage.
You may also need to rely on a penetrating lubricant to help out.
Some washing machine shut-off valves will have screws holding them in place. Look for them before spending too much time trying to heavy-hand the removal.
Some unfortunate designs hide the shut-off valve behind the wall. If you’re lucky there’s an access panel or a way to reach it through the existing hole the hose goes through.
Otherwise, you’ll need to cut the wall material away to access the shut-off valve.
If this is the case, use a drywall saw for sheetrock or a keyhole saw for wood. Make your cut clean and save the piece you remove so you can make the wall repair later on.
Step 6 - An Alternative Removal
If you try everything but still can’t get the valve to release from the pipe, you’ll need to cut out a section of pipe that includes the valve.
At that point, you’ll need to use replacement parts that attach to the pipes at the top and bottom.
Step 7 - Prep the Pipes
Even if the second shut-off valve is still functioning and not leaking, you may want to consider also replacing it at this time.
With the old shut-off valve removed, thoroughly clean the pipe threads.
Apply plumber’s tape to the pipe threads before proceeding in order to prevent water leaks.
Step 8 - Install the New Valve
Twist or screw the new shut-off valve or valves into place, using the reverse of whatever technique it took to remove the old one.
Step 9 - Reconnect the Water Supply
After replacing the shut off valve, replace the water hose from the back of your washer to the water supply.
Ensure the valve is in the off position. Then turn the water back on at the main.
Slowly turn on the shut-off valve, watching for leaks. If you find leaks, remove the parts, apply more plumber’s tape and reassemble.