Winter’s cold temperatures typically bring with them the risk of having your home’s pipes freeze to the point of bursting. Vigilant homeowners generally understand that it is caused by the extra pressure on pipes. This usually happens because water expands while turning into ice.
There are other things, like hair clogs in shower drains that can damage or overload the sewer lines. Pipes back up for other reasons. This include grease being emptied into the sink instead of being placed in the trash or paper products labeled “flushable” that really should never be flushed.
Tree roots are another culprit that can cause blockages when they enter the pipes and cracks as they grow. Besides that, your home can flood when valves and flex lines to appliances burst.
For regular maintenance or emergency repairs, it is best to know where the shut-off to your water meter is located and how to turn the water off in a hurry.
Local Water Shut-Off Valves
It is likely that your home’s fixtures have shut-off valves of their own. The most obvious of these is on the water line going to the toilet. This is a good thing because it allows you to turn off the water when you see the water rising in the bowl and nothing is going down. In this case, all you need to do is reach down, turn the valve and put an end to this disaster with a plunger. Dishwasher and sinks should also have valves situated underneath the counter or inside the cabinet. The water heater typically also has its own. Flooding can be prevented with a FloodStop system. This uses a water-sensor and motorized ball-valve. This valve shuts will shut off the water going to the fixture any time water is detected and, at the same time, sounds the alarm.
Main Water Shut-Off Valve
Plumbing water problems are not always localized though. If you are fortunate enough to be home when a pipe bursts, panic can set in quickly. This is the reason it is vitally important for you to know where to find all the water shut-off valves, not just those inside the house. These valves are usually located close to the front-most outdoor faucet which can be found somewhere around the perimeter of the home. A good way to alleviate the fear of water problems damaging your home is to have a remote-controlled water shut-off system installed. Similar to the FloodStop system, a sensor will detect water before a flood sets in and the water supply is shut off to the entire home, not just single fixtures.
Location Of Main Water Shut-Off Valves
As mentioned earlier, although the main water shut-off valve is typically located on the outside wall of the house, it can also be located in the utility room or basement. While the smaller valves used to shut off water to individual valves do a great job, a ball valve or a gate valve is generally used at the main water shut-off valve. A ball valve works by way of an open or closed position. Gate valves often need to be turned several times around to get them fully open or closed.
Gate valves may be more reliable, lasting for years. However, they can be hard to turn, particularly if they have not been used in a while. It is possible that you are reading this during a water emergency situation. If that is not the case, consider turning that valve right now to help loosen it up. It will help in an emergency situation to learn now whether or not you will need a wrench or other tool when the house is being flooded.
Water Meter Shut-Off
If you discover burst pipes or a leak inside your home, it will help to turn the water off at the main shut-off valve. You may need to turn off the water to everything while searching for and repairing a more extensive plumbing problem. For this, you may need to shut off the water at water meter box instead of the local or main shut-off valves. The water meter box might have two shut-offs with one being on the customer side and the other on the utility company’s side. This box could be in the basement or somewhere underground between the sidewalk and your home. Generally speaking, these are often located in the basement or other areas of the home.
At times, water meters are combined on one of two neighboring properties. That means your meter might be on yours or your neighbor’s property. It’s in your best interests to find this out as soon as you can and before a disaster strikes. Your meter should be the one closest to your property. You really should determine its location. If there is some resistance or confusion caused by this, contact your utility company for help to figure out which one is yours.
How To Shut Off Your Water Meter
Water meter shut-off valves typically have arrows indicating water flow direction and often have a handle for turning by hand. In other instances, a key must be used to shut the water off. A screwdriver or wrench can sometimes be used in place of a key. Turning the handle clockwise should shut the water off to your home. It should not be necessary to use excessive force, but if it is don’t risk damage to the meter. Contact your utility company instead.
Don’t let a burst pipe or blockage turn into a catastrophe. This is the most important thing anyone can do to protect their home. You need to know where to find the water shut-off valves and how to turn them to the off position. Everyone living in your home should also be schooled on where these are located. There may be nothing that you can do to save those pipes. However, it will save a lot of time, money and stress.
For any plumbing issues that you need to have addressed, be sure to contact R.F. Ohl. Our certified and experienced plumbers have the skills necessary to get the job done accurately, quickly, and affordably.