Whole-House Shut Off Valve: Where It is and How to Use It!

This week we would like to share a very important tip about your home: how to turn off your water. The past two weeks have been a busy time for us and all the plumbing industry as there has been an overwhelming number of burst pipes due to extremely low prolonged temperatures.  This has lead to many emergencies, where customers are experiencing water shooting throughout their house, pouring down walls, and streaming through ceilings. In some instances, they are unable to locate the source as the water continues to do expensive damage to their home.

The BEST way a homeowner can protect themselves from flooding, costly water damage, and the formation of mold is to know that they CAN and SHOULD turn the water off to their home in the event of a leak. Several customers were unsure as to how to turn off their water, and we would love to change that!

Every home is equipped with a whole-house shut off valve. This controls all the incoming water to your home and is typically simple to use. We recommend you locate yours and tell your family where it is and how to use it (even your well-behaved kids)!!  Knowing the location of this valve and how to use it is vital to your family to protect your home and provide peace of mind in the event of a flooding emergency. Typically, these valves are located in your basement or an area of your home that has your water heater or other major plumbing. This could also be a utility room or a laundry room. If the valve is not easily accessible, we recommend you move unnecessary items or keep a step stool near it if need be for easy access.

The valve itself is typically either a ball valve or a gate valve. Both should be easy to turn, and follow the old adage of “right-y, tight-y, left-y, loose-y”. The ball valve has a small ball on the inside that is rotated when you turn the handle. It allows water to flow freely when turned to the left and causes the ball to block the flow of water when turned to the right. This type of valve is the easiest to turn and the easiest to judge as to whether the water is on or off. Gate valves, on the other hand, have a small device in them that acts like a gate and goes up and down as you turn it. They can be susceptible to corrode over time and are harder to open and close. If left somewhere between the open and closed position, gate valves vibrate and can be damaged.

For these reasons, we always recommend a ball valve for your main shut off valve. Check yours out today, and if it is hard to turn or doesn’t turn at all give us a call before you need it and it doesn’t turn!

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