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Basic Plumbing for Homeowners: Shutting Off the Water

In the event of water damage in your home or business, there are a number of steps that should be followed when it comes to stabilizing the situation. Chief among them is to shut off the water supply to the property. That way if pipes or supply lines are leaking, it will prevent any more water from getting into the location and causing further damage. It also means that the source of the water leak can be located, which will let you know what kind of water you are dealing with, if there are contaminants involved, etc.

The problem is that most people don’t have the first clue when it comes to shutting off the water in their home. Once you are ankle deep in rising water is not the time for a lesson. So today’s blog entry is devoted to this one subject, something that each member of the home needs to know how to do.

Water valves are located on water lines throughout the home, but there are some main valves that should be addressed immediately. The first main valve is usually located where the water line enters the house, typically in the basement or crawlspace along the outside wall near the front of the house.  If the home is on a slab, the valve may be located near the water heater or in the garage. These valves can be turned off by hand, rotating counterclockwise until they stop. This will disrupt water flow to all areas of the home.

The second valve is located near the meter itself (you know the one the county or city uses if you don’t pay your bill on time). This requires a special key or pair of channel locks to operate. A third valve may also be located in a box buried in your yard near the street, which may also require a special key or tool to operate, but you should still know where these valves are located.

If you know what fixture is causing the problem, you can shut the water off to that one area by using one of the individual shutoff valves mentioned earlier. If your water lines do not have these valves, as some homes do not, then make it a point to have them installed, as they may prove invaluable to you later on.

Know where the location of each valve is, as this allows you to shut off water to a specific area, reducing the amount of water damage inflicted.

Valves should be checked on a yearly basis to make sure that they are in good working order and not likely to stick (either opened or closed). Any malfunctioning valves should be replaced right away.

Again, each member of your family (or employee, if it is a business) should be familiar with where valves are located and able to shut off the water in a pinch.

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