Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


Don’t Poke Holes In Your Pipes

Most ice makers and whole house humidifiers that I see have a saddle valve supplying the water. These are devices that allow for a very fast, cheap, do-it-yourself installation of a ¼” water supply line.

Saddle valves are installed by tightening a metal clamp on to a water pipe, then tightening down a needle valve until it pierces the water pipe.  No cutting of pipes is required, no soldering, no special tools… simple.  Very DIY.  The needle just pokes a hole in the pipe, and it can even be done without even turning off the water (but I sure wouldn't recommend it).  There has to be a catch, right?

Saddle Valve

There is.  They leak, and saddle valves are prohibited by the Minnesota State Plumbing Code.


Leaking Saddle Valve
Leaking Saddle Valve


Most of them don’t leak, but they have a much higher chance of leaking than a properly installed water valve.  If they do end up leaking, the repair will involve doing all the stuff that you’re supposed to be able to avoid – cutting, soldering, etc.

My advice is to not use saddle valves.  If you’re installing an appliance that needs a ¼” water pipe, have a proper shutoff valve installed.  It will certainly take more time, but you'll dramatically lower the chances of it leaking.


Proper Shutoff Valve
Proper Valve


If you already have one in your house, try to leave it alone.  Every time you operate the valve, you’re increasing your chances of creating a leak.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 9 commentsReuben Saltzman • May 25 2010 06:09AM


Sounds like the perfect solution for the oil spill in the Gulf. . . 

Have a great day and a productive week!

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 8 years ago

Interesting. Never knew this but it does make sense.

Posted by Pat O'Reilly (RE/MAX..214-289-6176 Irving and all of Dallas Fort Worth) over 8 years ago

It's never worth the cost of an inferior solution especially when mixing water and the interior of your house

enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 8 years ago

Reuben, good post----I WISH they were not allowed out here :)  Reuben here is the "question of the day."  Why are things that are not approved in a given area, for sale in the same area?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Fernando - they just need a really big one, right?

Pat - just look for 'em.  You'll start seething them everywhere.

Don - solid advice!

Charles - that's a great question!  That sounds like a good future blog topic, thanks for the idea.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 8 years ago

Good post Reuben.  I did not realize there was such a problem with those type of quick fixes. 

What do you think of gator teeth (also called shark teeth depending on the manufacturer)?


Posted by Aaron Silverman, Improving Real Estate Experience through Education (, Bluewater Property Management, LLC and Lowcountry Turnkey Properties, LLC) over 8 years ago

Hi Aaron, I really don't know much about gator teeth.  I've heard they work well, they're approved for use here, the fittings are fast and easy, and they're really expensive.  That's about it.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 8 years ago

I have never found one on an inspection that wasnt a problem good post.

Posted by Wilbur Lloyd (AR Home Inspection Service of New Jersey) almost 8 years ago

Thanks Wilbur.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago