When a plumbing emergency
occurs, the first thing you need to do is shut off your water supply. Shutting off the water is the best way to minimize damage until the underlying problem can be corrected. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t actually know where their main water shut off is located. Here we will highlight just why you should know where your shut off is, so you can take action when you need to act fast.
Locating Your Shut Off
It is vital that every member of your family knows where to locate the main water shut off valve. This means that even if you’re not home if a plumbing emergency occurs, water damage can be minimized. There are several possible locations for a shut-off. In most homes, the valve is located outside where your front yard joins the street. You should look for a circular plate that is metal or plastic at ground level. This is usually labeled with “Water.” Your valve may also be enclosed in a plastic or concrete box placed at ground level. The boxes are usually 2 feet by 2 feet, but if there is a circular plate, this will be smaller. You will need to lift the lid to expose the valve, so you may need to use a pry bar.
Some homes have a shut-off valve attached to an exterior wall or mounted in a warm area of your home. This means that your valve could be in your laundry room, kitchen or basement.
Test Your Valve
In most households, the shut-off valve
is rarely used. This means that it can easily become stuck in the open position, which can be problematic in an emergency. Therefore, once you’ve located your shut off valve it is a good idea to test it. If your valve appears to be stuck, you will need to take care. It is important not to try to force the valve as it could break and spring a leak. This means that you would need to try to get help from the city to turn off the water. If your valve is tricky to use and seems to be stuck, it is a good idea to call in a plumber. An experienced plumber has the skills and expertise to safely restore movement to the valve so that it can be easily used.
Teach Everyone to Use it
Unless you have very small children, it is a good idea that everyone in your household knows how to use the main shut off valve. This means that you can relax knowing that if a plumbing emergency occurs when only your teenager is home, you won’t come home to a swamp. You’ll need to emphasize that the valve is not a toy, but allow your teenagers to turn the water on and off, so they are comfortable with how to use the valve. You may even want to label the valve with a tag so that in the event of an emergency there are no mistakes during the chaos of dealing with leaking water. Remember that your main water shut off is a little like a fire extinguisher; while you hope it won’t be needed, you can be confident it is in working order.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.