A Guide To Locating and Properly Turning Off Your Water Valve
One of the first things you should do when moving into a new home is to locate the main water valve. This valve is located on the outside of the building and may be in the front or back depending on the property. This is especially important to know when you have a toilet overflowing or a pipe break in your house. Turning it off will stop the flow of water until you can contact a plumber to correct the problem. If you have an irrigation system, there is probably a shut off water valve for that as well. This is convenient when one of the outside water pipes break and water is seeping into the ground or shooting into the air.
Ball Valve or Gate Valve?
A main water shut off will contain either a ball valve or a gate valve. These valves must be certified by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) when manufactured. They are used in many different industries but are essential when it involves a shut off water unit.
The ball valve has a clamp flange for the inflow or outflow of water. It is connected directly to inlet and outlet connections. It has a metal face seal composed of two fitting parts which enclose the valve itself. The gate valve, on the other hand, is either parallel or wedge-shaped and slides into the water flow to turn off the water. The disadvantage of the latter includes pressure limitation and low shut off.
When Should You Shut Off Your Water During a Flood?
I have personally had two occasions when I had to use my main shut-off valves. The first occurred when my toilet overflowed and water was seeping onto the bathroom floor and into the hallway. The other was when my irrigation pipe ruptured and I had to turn off the water in the back of the house. Believe me, it is extremely important to know where the water valves is and how to quickly stop your water flow.
I always shut off the water when I go on vacation. This prevents me from coming home and finding water everywhere if there had been a leak, even a small one, while I’m away. An unattended water leak could cause very severe damage to your home.
A Test Run
It is important to check and see if your shut off valve is working correctly. Go outside and shut off the valve, then come in and turn on your faucet as a test. If the valve is working properly, a little water should drain out and then stop completely. If the water continues, then something is wrong with the shut off valve and you need to call a plumber.
A licensed, bonded and insured plumber will quickly be able to determine the problem and replace the valve, if necessary. If you are moving into a new home or just don’t know where the shut-off valve is, it is important that you locate your main water shut off valve immediately and understand how to use it in an emergency.