Your home’s shut off valve allows water from the city’s utility company to flow into your home. This water enables you to cook, wash, bathe and take care of your garden. But when there’s a leak in the plumbing, water can gush into the house at high pressure, causing a lot of damage. You may also need to shut off this valve if you want to do some home renovation or repairs.
Shutting down the main supply can stop the flow of water, prevent damage and make repairs faster and easier. Here are some tips for finding and shutting of this all-important main water shut-off valve.
- Check the Property Inspector’s Report
In an emergency, this may be a good option for someone who keeps home documents in a well-known location. Look for the property inspection report you got from your property inspector when you were completing the process of buying your home. Check the plumbing section to find the actual location and picture of the shut-off valve. Whether you had a defective plumbing system or not, the report should have the location of the shut-off valve. Some reports provide details of the type of valve and its design.
- Look at the Perimeter of the House
If you can’t locate any house documents, you can start searching for the valve on the perimeter of your home. The main water pipe comes from the street and connects to your home’s plumbing system at the perimeter of the house. Stand close to the external wall of your home and face the street. The water pipe should come in from the street and head to your home in a straight line. You should be able to find a valve where the pipe meets the building.
- Go to the Boundary of Your Property
When the other methods don’t work, you can find a valve at the beginning of the main water pipe. It’s commonly located in a ground level utility box or casing. It is called a street side cut off valve because it’s located just at the edge of your property and the sidewalk. If you look carefully and you don’t find it, call your water company’s emergency line. The company rep may guide you to find the valve or you can hold on till their emergency team comes to your home.
How to Switch Off Your Main Water Valve
When you have found the main valve that allows water to flow into the home, what should you do? Here are some tips on how to turn off the valve at the street side utility box.
When you find the utility box very close to the street, here is what you should do:
- Take the lid off and put it close to the box.
- If you find some sand or dirt in it, take it out carefully using your garden trowel or your bare hands.
- Don’t throw away the sand because it may be needed to keep the pipes from freezing in winter.
- After you clear the box, ignore the glass covered meter.
- Take note of the number of valves you find inside the utility box. You should see two valves; one on either side of the utility box.
What are the two valves in the utility box?
- The street side valve: This is located on the street. You don’t need to turn this off. Only the utility company can shut off this valve because it needs a special tool. Not even a normal wrench can turn this valve off successfully. The valve is also protected by some regulations so it may be illegal to turn it off.
- House side valve: This valve is usually attached to the water meter on the house side. You may find a knob on it that can turn it off or it may only have a nut. Turning off the knob will cut off the water supply to the entire house. In some recently built homes, there is more than one shut off valve. One valve will be responsible for cutting off the water supply to the building while another one will cut off the water supply to external taps used for maintaining the yard. To turn off the house side valve, you need to turn it clockwise.
Now that you know how to find the shut-off valve and how to turn it off, put these ideas and tips into practice. Don’t wait till you have a flood that makes you stand in 6 inches of water before you locate and operate this valve.