One of the most helpless feelings for a plumber is to get an emergency plumbing call, and the homeowner does not know how to turn the water off in their home. Freezing weather, earthquakes, and basic wear and tear over time can cause the pipes of your home to burst or leak. In the time it takes a plumber to reach you, a considerable amount of water can flood your home and cause substantial flood damage.
Knowing how to shut off the water to your home is extremely important. Everybody in your home should understand how to turn the water off in case of an emergency. Further, test these shut-offs at least once a year to make sure each is in proper working order.
Types of Shut-Off Valves
There are going to be many shut-off valves in your home, but only one that shuts off all of the water to the entire house. The other ones are going to be on the pipes that lead to major appliances, like the dishwasher, toilets, water heater, and sinks. These are usually knobs that are located under or behind the appliance, and turning them will shut off the water directly to that appliance.
Water Meter Shut-Off
The water meter for your home is typically located between the street and your house. The meter is in the ground inside a water meter box with a blue cover. The valve adjacent to the meter is called a “curb stop”. You will need a water meter key or emergency water/gas wrench to turn the stop clockwise a quarter turn and shut off the water. You can purchase a water meter key for $16-$20 or an emergency water wrench for $10-$16 from a local hardware store or online. Keep these tools where you can quickly get to them in an emergency.
In addition to the “curb stop” at the water meter, you may have another shut-off near the meter box. This shut down will be found in a small meter box closer to your house. If the valve is a gate valve with a round metal handle, you might need to turn it clockwise numerous rotations to completely close the valve. If the valve is a ball valve, with a little metal deal with, turn the deal with until it is perpendicular to the water system pipeline. You might require to employ a set of pliers or channel locks to turn the deal with on the valves if they have not been operated in an extended period. This shut off will turn the water off to both the underground water line and your house.
Main Water Supply Shut-Off
The location of the main shut off varies according to the type of foundation you have; slab, crawl space, or basement. If your home has a slab foundation, your shut off will typically be located adjacent to the water heater. If you have a crawl space or basement foundation, the shut off would most likely be found where the water line comes through the foundation masonry wall. Again, the shut-off may be a gate or ball valve. Turning the valve clockwise will turn off the water to your entire home.
Each toilet and sink in your home has a shut-off. This allows you to turn the water off to just one fixture instead of the whole house. This shut off is a quarter-turn ball valve or more commonly called a “brass stop”. The supply lines are constructed of PEX or rubber tubing with braided stainless steel. Older homes may have chrome-plated brass supply lines.
Water Heater Shut-Off
Your water heater has a shut-off on the cold water supply line going into the cylinder. This valve will allow you to turn the water off to the water heater for regular service or to replace the heater. Make sure you do not use any hot water when the water supply to the heater is shut off. Doing so could cause your water heater elements to burn up if the water level in the tank drops below them.