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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Do You Know Where Your Main Water Shut-off Valves Are?

1/15/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Do You Know Where Your Main Water Shut-off Valves Are? As our mascot, Dewey, is showing here, the water shut-off valve inside this home is located in the garage.

No one expects pipes to burst, water heaters to break, or toilets and washers to overflow.  If this happens, your quick response along with the highly trained specialists from SERVPRO of Fernandina Beach/Yulee will limit your damages and potentially save you thousands of dollars! Here are some tips for locating water shut-off valves on your property.

Source: The Spruce…

Finding the Water Shut-Off Valves

Some things in life are worth learning before it's too late—like the locations of your water shut-off valves. If a water pipe springs a leak, knowing where the shut-off valve is could save you thousands in water damage repairs. What's more, you can't make those major plumbing repairs or improvements unless you first turn off the water.

Home water systems contain two types of shut-off valves: main or master shutoff valves for stopping the flow of water to the entire house and individual or supply shut-off valves for specific appliances and fixtures.

Before Anything Else, Try to Cut Off Water Close to Source

If you have a leak at your toilet, sink, clothes washer, or ice maker, shut off water close to the source:

  • Toilet:  Look under the toilet, against the wall.  You will see flexible metal tubing.  Turn the handle clockwise until the handle stops.  Do not force.
  • Sink:  Look under the sink cabinet.  You will see two sets of flexible metal or plastic tubing.  Turn clockwise.
  • Clothes Washer:  Some houses have the valves clearly exposed above and behind the washer.  Turn both valves clockwise.  If you do not see these valves, slide the washer outward and you will likely see them.
  • Dishwashers: The water supply tube running to the dishwasher often has a fixture shutoff valve controlling it. In many cases, this is also located under the kitchen sink base cabinet, and it may be close proximity to the sink faucet shut-off valves. 
  • Refrigerator ice makers/water dispensers: The small copper or mesh supply tube running to the refrigerator usually has a small saddle valve or other devices that can be shut off to close down the water supply. 

Now for the main water shut-offs to the house…

  1.  Water Main:  Locate Shut-Off Valve Within the House

This is the best way to shut off water in your house.  It will cut off your home's entire water supply, allowing you to open up any pipe within the house.

Unlike the main water valve, it should be easy to access and not involve special tools or digging. (The only problem is that not everyone has one. In this case, turn off the pump at the electrical box.)

But where would you find yours?  Put on your detective's hat for this one.  Suggestions:

  • Inside/Outside Perimeter:  In most cases, it will be near the perimeter of the house—like the outside wall in a utility area where the main water line enters the house, or on an outside wall near the water meter. This valve will always be located on the house side of the water meter and is usually a rather large valve. 
  • Ground Level:  Keep your focus on-grade.  So, if you are in a basement, you will be looking at eye level or above.  If on a ground level floor, you will be looking down.
  • Path of Least Resistance:  Imagine a straight line extending from your outdoor water meter to the nearest point of your home's exterior perimeter.  Water lines will take the shortest path to get to a house.  Where that line meets your house is likely where the house's shut-off is located.
  • Check Inspection Report:  If you still have your property inspection report from when you purchased the house, it should indicate the location of the shut-off valve.  Inspection reports often follow a standardized format, so you may find this information located in Section 6.1.
  • Access Panels:  Look for any kind of access panel.  Water cut-off valves are not supposed to be sealed up behind drywall.  However, your home's previous owner may have unwisely sealed the valve behind a wall.  Most homeowners--and any legitimate contractor--will create an access panel around the valve.

Where It Is Not:  It is likely not under a sink.  The shut-off to the water heater may look promising, but that only affects the outflow of hot water from that point.  Do not confuse the gas shut-off to the furnace or water heater with water lines.

  1. Water Main:  Locate Main Shut-Off Value Outside By Meter

If the previous two options fail, try to shut off the water main outside.  

This will cut off all water in the house.  This is the most rigorous option and will involve tools, and possibly even tools that you do not have on hand.  It is dirty work and may involve digging.

Locate the round, square, or rectangular steel or iron lid.  Lift the lid and set the lid to the side.  If there is dirt or sand, remove gently with your hand or a garden trowel.  Do not discard.  If you live in a climate that freezes in the winter, this sand/dirt is required to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting.

After clearing the box, you will see three things:

  • Water Meter:  A glass-covered meter that may have a secondary cover to protect the glass.  Ignore this as it has nothing to do with shutting off the water.
  • Water Company's Shut-Off Valve:  This will be on the street side of the water meter.  See attached image.  This turn-off is designed so that only the water company can turn it off with a special tool.  Do not turn this off.  Even if you manage to get a Vise-Grip or Crescent wrench on this, you would find it exceedingly difficult to turn.
  • Your Shut-Off Valve:  This will be on the house side of the water meter.  It may have a knob for turning or it may have a nut.  There is no standard size for this nut.  For example, some are 3/8" and require a ratchet wrench with an extender for access.  Turn this clock-wise.

If you need help locating your main water shut-off valves, you can schedule a service call for SERVPRO of Fernandina Beach/Yulee to come out and assist you. Call us at 904-729-2401 if you are interested. It would be money well spent to protect your home investment.

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