The old adage, "They don't make 'em like they used to", holds true in a lot of home repair situations. I find it to be the case especially in the case of many plumbing repairs.
This photo is a picture of a brass shut off valve for an ice maker line. My customer couldn't get it to shut off completely during a appliance upgrade project in their kitchen. Just take a look at it... it's tarnished, old, and a great candidate for replacement. Call in a plumber and yank that dirty old thing out... right?
Hold on there cowboy. Not so fast! Take another look at this valve. You'll see brass - solid brass.
You don't see that much anymore. Nowadays valves have at least a few parts that are made plastic - the handle, the stem... something is always plastic. And no matter how pretty, new and shiny the chrome plated valve is... it will never be brass, and it will never last as long.
For this repair, we simply replaced the rubber (neoprene) bib washer at the bottom of the stem. It had completely deteriorated over time, broken down, and prevented the valve from seating properly, causing it to still leak when shut off. Pop off the old rubber washer and pop on the new one. The repair took 45 minutes (including the run to the store) and only cost 30 cents!
This valve will last another couple decades! Maybe old's not so bad.
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