If you live in a house built before 1990, the chances are it's starting to show some wear and tear. The plumbing is an example of older systems in your home that tend to experience problems as your home ages.
For instance, that oak tree planted in your front yard might have only been a few feet tall in 1990. Thirty years later, it's a large tree with roots spreading out all over the driveway. There's a chance that one of those roots decides to penetrate the sewer line, causing a burst pipe.
Maybe the weather gets cold in the winter, and your pipes freeze. The expansion cracks the pipework, and you start to get leaks everywhere. You need to act immediately to save yourself thousands of dollars in water damage and bills.
In these plumbing emergencies, you need to know how to turn off the water mains to your home. Getting to the water main and shutting it off is the top priority before calling anyone for help. In this post, we'll unpack everything you need to know about turning off the water main to your property.
Where Do You Find the Main Water Shutoff Valve?
The main water shutoff valve for your home could be in several places. Those homes with basements or crawlspaces will probably have the shutoff valve located somewhere on the interior walls towards the front of the house.
Most of the shutoff valves are at the split where the water comes into the house from the water meter. Most developers will hide the shutoff valve in plain sight for easy access. However, if your home has a slab foundation, then you might find the shutoff valve near the water heater or outside your garage in a valve box.
When shutting off your water valve, you mustn't touch the pressure regulator above the valve. Only a licensed plumber should ever touch the valve, as it can cause massive damage to the system if incorrectly set.
If you can't find the main water shutoff valve inside your home, chances are it's outside near the edge of your property, close to the water meter. The shutoff valve could be outside the wall's boundary next to the meter in a box or cover in the ground.
Some shutoff valves come in a metal box cemented into the ground, along with the water meter. These boxes require a special key available from your local hardware store to access the box. If you don't have the key, then you can't access the shutoff valve.
Be careful when opening this box, as insects like spiders and scorpions love hiding in these locations. Wedge it open using a long screwdriver to avoid any nasty surprises.
How Do I Turn Off the Main Water Valve?
After opening the box, shut off the main water valve by turning it a ¼-turn, so it's perpendicular to the pipe. When the ball valve handle is parallel or in-line with the water pipe, the valve is one. When its perpendicular, it's in the off position.
The water meter is also a sign showing you when the water stops flowing into your home. You'll notice the numbers and the little wheel turning when the valve is open. After closing the valve, the numbers and the wheel will come to a halt.
It's important to note that you must never tamper with the water meter itself. If city inspectors think you're tampering with the meter, they may shut off your water and remove the service. You could end up facing a fine for the action.
If you have issues with the water connection, you need to call the city water department to investigate. If there's an emergency, call a plumber to help you resolve the issue.
Some older water shutoff valves may have plenty of corrosion around them. If you're struggling to close the valve, try to spray some multi-purpose oil on the tap or valve to loosen it. Some models come with taps, and others come with ball valve gates or wheel valves.
Call Professional Plumbers for Help
If you're struggling with turning off your water or don't have the key to access the water box, call your local plumber for assistance.
Most plumbers operate a 24-hour emergency service, 7-days a week. They have all the tools needed to ensure they turn off your water and solve your plumbing problem. Look for a reputable and trustworthy plumber with a solid reputation for the best service in your area.