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How To Quickly Locate and Close Your Emergency Water Shut Off Valve

The emergency water shut off valve is used to cut off the water supply to your house in a plumbing emergency. Knowing where your home's shut-off valve is and making sure everyone else in your house knows about it can assist you in quickly turning off the water during or after an emergency. This is especially crucial when you have an active pipe burst, pipe leak, or frozen pipes that have burst.

While you may not be a plumbing expert, you should know how to turn off your water in the event that it breaks down or if you're going away for an extended period of time. You should locate the main shut off valve and shut off your water supply immediately to prevent the issue from getting worse and doing serious property damage.

If something catastrophic happens to your house's plumbing system, such as a burst pipe spraying water on your walls and floors, you'll want to cut off the water flow as soon as possible. To accomplish this, you'll need to know where your emergency water shut-off valve is and how to use it correctly.

Where Is My Emergency Water Shut Off Valve?

Depending on your home, your emergency water shut off valve is typically located in one of a few discrete locations. If you can't remember from the house inspection when your purchased your home where to find the water shut off valve, check these areas first.

Check Outside Your Home

The first place is outside near your water meter. Your water meter will most likely be in a covered box and will be positioned on the side of your house, near the street, or in the front of your property near the sidewalk. Some homes also have a water shut off valve located right at the spot the main water line enters your house.

If your water shut-off valve is not visible on the side of your property, search for a tiny plate in the ground in front of the home that faces the street. This is when the town water supply enters your home.

Check Your Basement

If you have a basement, look for the shut-off valve near your front foundation wall. The main water may flow through the concrete floor or the wall. The valve is generally within 3-5 feet of the point where the main water enters. The main water may enter in a variety of locations, such as a mechanical room, via the floor near the water heater or furnace.

The shut-off valve is generally found near the water heater or beneath the kitchen sink if you have a crawl space. If the crawlspace is directly below the house, consider installing a secondary valve in the living area close to the water heater or underneath a sink.

Other Common Locations

If your home is built on a slab, the shut-off valve will most likely be close to or beneath the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but it may also be in any other location. Check your garage or laundry room as well, as some homebuilders use these locations too.

How to Turn Off the Water Shut Off Valve

After you've discovered the shutoff, you'll need to figure out what sort of valve you're dealing with. The two most common valves used for emergency water shut offs are a gate valve and ball valve.

example of gate valve and ball valve emergency water shut off examples

The Gate Valve

The gate valve, which is typically found in older properties, has a round handle that must be twisted several times to open or close the valve. Open or closed, these valves are intended to be completely open or completely shut. Water flowing through a partially opened gate valve might wear down the metal and lead to failure over time.

If you don't adjust your gate valve on a regular basis, it can become difficult to turn. After not being turned for years, it may be hard to turn in an emergency. If you haven't closed the primary shutoff valve since you moved in, do so now. It's preferable to find out that you can't turn it with your bare hands now than waiting until you're knee-deep in water.

The Ball Valve

The ball valve, which is most prevalent in recent construction, has a lever handle that must be twisted 90 degrees to turn the water on or off. A full-flow ball valve may be found in houses with plastic or copper main water pipes that lead into the property. When the handle is pointing towards the pipe, this valve is open.

To close the ball valve, turn the knob counterclockwise 1/4 turn so that it is at a right angle to the pipe. You can quickly tell if it's open or closed: When in the shut position, the lever is perpendicular to the pipes; when it's opened, it's parallel. Shut off the main water valve at some point in the house and turn on a tap. All water flow should come to an end.

When working with an antique gate valve, be careful not to break it. Call your local plumbing company if the valve is frozen or jammed.

What About Shutting Off Water From Outside?

Your water line is generally located near the conclusion of your property line in a covered box within a “meter pit” underground. A cover may be used to seal the hole, which is usually made of steel or concrete.

To shut off the water from the meter pit, you'll need a water meter key and a curb stop key, which are special tools for this purpose. You can get them at your local hardware shop or online. The water meter key opens the lid of your meter pit, while the curb stop key regulates the valve within. Raise the lid of the box after inserting the meter key into the “lock” and turning it counterclockwise, then tilt it toward the box's edge to open it.

Contact The Plumbing Pros at ARS/Rescue Rooter

Once you shut off the water and the immediate risk is stopped, you’ll want to call a professional plumber to fix the problem right away. ARS/Rescue Rooter is a national home services company specializing in making repairs and plumbing installation services. Whether it's a plumbing line, drain line, or another plumbing issue that made you shut off your home's water, we're here to restore your plumbing back to working order.

Call our plumbers at 866-399-2885 or find your nearest ARS/Rescue Rooter location to schedule service today!

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