Saddle Valve Q&A
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Your article on saddle valves made it quite clear that they
should be attached to the cold water supply line. However, the
"professional" installers of my humidifier tapped into
the hot water line from my water heater. The humidifier is
attached to the furnace in the attic, which is also where my water
heaters are. The installers said that the 1/4" tubing would
be less likely to freeze by tapping into the hot water supply. My
1) Is the saddle valve more likely to fail because it is
attached to the hot water supply?
2) I was told to turn on the saddle valve on in the winter and
off in the summer.
I thought the more you turn on and off a saddle valve, the more
likely it is to widen the hole, and eventually never turn off. Is
Saddle valves are mounted on a cold supply line instead of a
hot line because the heat of the water decreases the life of the
rubber/fibrous gasket used to seal around the hole the valve
pierces in the pipe. Any plumber will tell you that flexible parts
always fail on the "hot" side of a faucet first. I can't
tell you how much "life" you are losing, but I can tell
you that NO manufacturer I am aware of encourages installation of
saddle valves on hot water lines. Even companies that manufacturer
sink-mounted "hot water machines" recommend installation
on the cold line. There are some water heating units that DO feed
from the hot water line, but they do not use saddle valves.
As far as opening and closing the valve, don't worry about it.
The saddle valve only pierces the pipe once. After that there is
no further increase in the size of the opening. There is no
additional stress placed on the valve by opening and closing it.
In fact, you may prolong the useful life of the valve by opening
and closing it a few times a year. Plumbing valves that remain
unturned are more likely to seize up and fail when you need them
the most. I have found this to be a common problem with shutoffs
under sinks, which are usually only turned when the faucet is in
need of repair!
If there is any leakage around the handle stem when you open or
close the saddle valve, use a small wrench to tighten the packing
nut enough to stop the leakage. If the body of the saddle valve
turns, use a second wrench to hold it in place while tightening
the packing nut.
Concerning the issue of freezing, I would suggest that you wrap
the tubing in fiberglas pipe insulation... just in case. Don't
depend on the connection to the hot water pipe to give you much
freezing protection. Because the amount of water drawn through the
tubing into the humidifier will be small, it probably won't even
be warm unless you have just run the hot water in the sink!
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Written by Jerry Alonzy
Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.
As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+ and Facebook.