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PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
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Discussions > Espresso > Espresso Mods > PTFE Ball Valve...  
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stewjacks
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Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 21
Location: MTL
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 12:34pm
Subject: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

Hi Everyone,

I'm refurbishing an older water softener and need to source a few parts for it. I was having water leakage on both of the three-way ball valves, so I opened up the valves and noticed that the teflon seats had started to decompose and were filling my waterline and tank. I figured I'd be able to buy new seats for the valve but so far I haven't had any luck online, except if I want to buy new valves from espressoparts. The softener is an older DP-series from Rancilio (or similar - cosmetically they're identical but there's no badge on the tank any longer). I'm going to be replacing the resin beads as well, but I want to get the valves running before I try to flush the tank.

Anyone know where I can buy PTFE ball valve seats and seals?
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 1:55pm
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

I have not seen them but they may be out there.
I am going to compare this with when I used to work in the RV industry, very often we would get customers come in and want just a small part of some device, they did not want to buy the replacement device, only the seal or whatever the broken part is. Often, those parts inside a device are made special for that manufacturer for a limited run until they find another source of parts that cost less and are of a different design. I understand the frustration of needing a $0.04  part and not wanting to spend $28.50 for a whole widget but it is nearly impossible to have parts for every device ever made, we tried hard to do what we could but it is just an impossible task. I think you may be in a similar situation here.
Good luck in your quest, I really hope you find them :D

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
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Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 1:59pm
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

I wonder if one could fashion their own out of Sugru?

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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stewjacks
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Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 21
Location: MTL
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 4:21pm
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

calblacksmith Said:

I have not seen them but they may be out there.
I am going to compare this with when I used to work in the RV industry, very often we would get customers come in and want just a small part of some device, they did not want to buy the replacement device, only the seal or whatever the broken part is. Often, those parts inside a device are made special for that manufacturer for a limited run until they find another source of parts that cost less and are of a different design. I understand the frustration of needing a $0.04  part and not wanting to spend $28.50 for a whole widget but it is nearly impossible to have parts for every device ever made, we tried hard to do what we could but it is just an impossible task. I think you may be in a similar situation here.
Good luck in your quest, I really hope you find them :D

Posted February 3, 2014 link

Thanks for the well-wishes calblacksmith! I'm making a little more headway in my hunt. I contacted Rancilio North America and they were really quick to respond. They don't have a source for the part, so your diagnosis seems pretty spot on. If they can't source it then it doesn't look good!

The o-rings that form a seal between the brass body and the teflon seat look to be pretty standard, so I'm going to try putting two o-rings on each side (or maybe a flat and a round one) so that the threaded intake piece has something to push on and the ball stays centred. I have a feeling that while it'll be harder to turn the lever, this will provide enough of a seal under pressure to prevent water from leaking. If that doesn't work I'll check with the main plumbing supply guys here in Toronto to see if they can think up anything. I'm also considering getting a small run of them made (50-100) if there's sufficient interest here on the forum as this seems to be a pretty common valve and I can't imagine I'm the only one to have them crap out...

emradguy Said:

I wonder if one could fashion their own out of Sugru?

Posted February 3, 2014 link

Not a bad idea... but I'm pretty sure Sugru isn't food-grade!
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Mon Feb 3, 2014, 7:39pm
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

yeah, I looked for that on their site right after posting. The impression I got is they've applied for food-safe approval and expect to get it, but until they do...we'll never know for sure.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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stewjacks
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Joined: 16 May 2013
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Location: MTL
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Feb 4, 2014, 8:15am
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

Apparently there are a couple of ingredients that may cause allergic reactions in a small number of people, though I'm not eating the stuff and I don't think that that much could leech into the water. We eat peanut butter and that causes an allergic reaction in a lot of people...

Sugru got me thinking that I might be able to fashion a seal out of marine silicone. I could repack the o-ring, add some silicone, add the ball, add more silicone, add the last o-ring and then seal it up. I'll have to test it out first to see if silicone will adhere to the ball first, because I still want to be able to move the valve
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stewjacks
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Joined: 16 May 2013
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Location: MTL
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Feb 17, 2014, 8:32am
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

Update:

I've managed to jimmy a solution that works very well for anyone who's interested. What I did was replace the PTFE o-rings with thicker-than-stock 19/32" rubber o-rings (I think. I lost the packaging so the size is a guess. They were Moen stock parts in a pack of 4 and I can get the number for anyone who needs it).

So the packing order goes: 5/8" o-ring - 19/32" o-ring - nylon ball - 19/32" o-ring - 5/8" o-ring. I've had it in place over a bucket for a week now and I haven't seen so much as a drip. I think this system could be an issue if I was turning the lever constantly, but since I have a 12l softener on my home rig and I recharge every six months I don't see this becoming an issue. Not bad for two bucks!
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Feb 17, 2014, 12:55pm
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

GREAT! Thanks for the update :D

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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skydragondave
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Joined: 18 Feb 2013
Posts: 167
Location: Ontario, Canada
Expertise: Professional

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Posted Thu Mar 6, 2014, 9:15pm
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

I commend you for your efforts but have to admit it baffles me the lengths some people will go to and the hours some people will spend in order to avoid having to spend an extra $10-20.
To cost out a rebuild of a conventional DVA 8L water softener:
Resin beads, 1ft3/28.3L bag $95.00 minimum (does 3)
2 valves, inlet/outlet $28/ea (list)
Seal, top cap $8.00
Labour: 1hr
New replacement cost: $178.99 avg. (list as high as $220)
If you're spending $100 in beads for a $200 softener, it makes little sense to spend 6hrs to save $20 on the inlet and outlet valves. You could spend the same amount on a Bestmax "S" system, spend 15 minutes installing it, and not have to touch it for a year. Take the time you save and apply it to what you do best, which is cupping great coffee in your home. And never have to worry about missing a regeneration cycle or accidentally getting salt or scale in your machine. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy tinkering with things too, but the satisfaction to me comes from executing a repair which lasts a long time. Trying to cram a makeshift seal into a $28 valve is only going to result in an early failure and a possible embarrassment if it fails while company's over. Don't do it.
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stewjacks
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Joined: 16 May 2013
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Location: MTL
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Mar 6, 2014, 9:55pm
Subject: Re: PTFE Ball Valve Seats for Water Softener
 

Well, yes and no. So far as the labour goes, I guess it took me a little hunting around to find something that fit properly... but no more than a couple of emails and trip down the plumbing aisle at home depot. We shouldn't forget that this website is really just dedicated to expensive plumbing fixtures, after all.

I don't feel like I own something if I can't replace the parts on it... and throwing out a nice brass valve because of some crappy teflon didn't sit well with me. And seeing how gross it was when the broke down (it got in the tank, in the hose line, and some probably broke down small enough to get in the boiler), I'd much rather have something I can replace every five years for a buck or two that won't degrade. A seal's a seal, so whether I use a piece of teflon or rubber, it's going to stop water all the same.

Teflon doesn't flex much but it's nice and smooth when you want to rotate a PVC ball under pressure, hence the precise fit. O-rings do the same job, they just don't make turning the lever as smooth as it could be. There were round o-rings in there to begin with, keeping the teflon against the ball and prevent water from leaking out around the sides where the teflon ends and the brass starts. Some higher pressure ball valves use rubber and a metal ball because it holds up better under those conditions.

I don't know that I agree with your price-point, either. 200 bucks for a new softener versus the $37 I paid to refurbish this thing, while keeping it out of a landfill, works just fine for me. You can spend all you want on disposable softeners, but I'll stick to my $1.50 O-rings, 30 bucks worth of resin, and $5 worth of salt. We'll see who makes out better in the long-run!
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