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Shut-off Valves

One of the most important things to know about your plumbing is where your main water line shut-off valve is located and how to operate it. This valve stops the flow of water coming into your residence. Being able to quickly locate it and shut if off could be the difference between a little water that is easy to clean up or a massive mess that can cause thousands of dollars in damage. That may seem like a scare tactic, but a ¾ inch water main can push about 25 gallons per minute based on average pressure. Fortunately, most leaks don’t result in quite that much water at once, but being able to quickly stop it will save you much time and trouble.

In central Missouri, shut-off valves are typically located in the front of the house, on the wall nearest the street. If there is a water hydrant (not to be confused with a fire hydrant) on the outside front of your house, the shut off valve/main configuration will often be found near it, but on the inside of the house.

The shut-off valve itself is usually found just above where the water main physically comes into your home. In homes with basements, this is where the water main usually enters the residence. For homes without basements, you might find the shutoff valve near the water heater or in the garage, and it might be concealed behind a removable panel used to hide the pipe for aesthetic purposes.

There are 2 common types of shut-off valves used for homes:

  • Globe Valve
  • Ball Valve

Globe ValveBall Valve 2

Most globe valves have a round handle on top that allows you to rotate it clockwise to stop the flow of water. Once the repair has been made and it’s safe to turn the water back on, simply turn the handle the other direction (counterclockwise).

A ball valve usually has a handle that is turned clockwise a quarter turn (45 degrees) to stop the flow of water and then when returned to a position parallel to the water main, it will open the flow of water.

Once in a while, there might be a situation which causes your water main to break in a spot before the shut-off valve, and I can tell you from personal experience that sticking your finger into a water main as a stopper doesn’t do a bit of good! In this instance, you will need to shut the water off at the street. This shutoff is usually located under the metal disk that resembles a manhole cover, often in the front yard. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy to access, and you might need a special tool to operate it. The street shutoff valve should only be used in an emergency and if you have any concerns, you should seek training from a licensed professional before ever attempting to do it yourself.

It’s a good idea to regularly check shut-off valves to ensure they are working. Doing so will give you confidence about how it works and make it much less stressful should you ever need to do it during an emergency. If you should ever encounter a water leak or a problem with your shut-off valve, MasterTech would be happy to fix it for you. Someone is on call 24/7/365 for emergencies. Just call 777-7777 and we’ll send a truck!

The Flood of 2006

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