When your home’s plumbing suddenly springs a massive leak, do you know how you would react? Calling A Better Plumber is a good move, but it probably shouldn’t be your first thought when your home get closer to drowning by the second. This is when you should turn off your home’s main water valve right away -- but how are you supposed to do that if you aren’t sure where it is or how to turn it off?
Each and every home connected to a city water main has a primary shut-off valve that will stop the flow of water to all fixtures, pipes, and appliances with one turn. Most of the time, this valve is outside next to your water meter.
The location of your water meter isn’t always in plain sight. Sometimes it is easy to spot on the side of your house or attached to an above-ground post, but more often than not its hidden underground. Take a walk around your house looking for a small metal cover or hatch, much like a manhole cover. When you see one marked “water”, lift the lid to see your water meter inside. If you simply cannot find your water meter, call the local water authority or have a plumber come out and ask about its location.
Your valve should be connected to the water line right next to the water meter, just keep in mind that not all valves look alike. Some of them look like regular spigot handles like you would see on your garden hose faucet. Others are metal projections that might look like they are just another part of the water line, so pay close attention and don’t be afraid to ask the local water authority for answers.
Just in case your valve looks like it can’t be turned with your bare hand, it might require a pipe wrench or a water key (a long-handled plumbing wrench). Both of these can be found at any hardware store, and they are super important to have accessible in case of an emergency.
Here, There and Everywhere
Once you have figured out how to shut off the water to your entire home, it’s time to take an inside tour and locate fixtures and appliances and their dedicated individual shut-off valves. These tend to be the style you can close with one hand, but if they haven’t been touched since they were installed, they may be stuck in the open position.
Sink valves are typically located right underneath the sink, inside the cabinet (if there is one). Toilet valves are also usually pretty obvious, they are almost always a little egg shaped handle fixed to the water line coming out of the wall.
Appliance valves, like the ones for your dishwasher and washing machine, are also typically the hand-crank style. However, these are usually hidden behind the appliances themselves, so you should probably devise a plan for quick access to these valves should you have a water emergency.
Other fixtures, like showers and solid fiberglass tubs, the valves tend be inside the wall the faucet is attached to. Getting to these valves might require some hardware removal like faucet handles or face plates and in some cases, drywall.
Give It a Go
Just to make sure you are prepared for the worst-case scenario, you should shut off each valve once or twice just to familiarize yourself with the experience. This is especially important if you find a valve that turns out to be stuck; a little spritz of WD-40 now can make quickly closing a valve a much easier task when it comes to counting seconds in preventing a kitchen remodel.
Just in case you are having some difficulty opening a sticky valve, locating the main water shut-off valve for your home, or another home plumbing challenge, don’t think about it too long, pick up your phone and call A Better Plumber today at 301-994-1000.
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