Learning how to shut the water off to your house is very important. You’ll need to know how to do this if you ever need to do repairs to your home plumbing system. It’s especially important when emergencies arise such as frozen pipes, leaking water heaters, leaking faucets or just a simple faucet replacement or repair.
Common Reasons To Shut The Water Off To Your House
There are a multitude of DIY home repairs that would necessitate shutting off your house water. This is a simple task assuming your plumbing system is plumbed to code and functioning properly.
Some of the most common reasons to shut the water off to your house are:
- Leaking faucet repair
- Faucet replacement
- Frozen or burst pipe
- Water heater repair or replacement
- Leaving town for a few days
- Leaking refrigerator water pipe
- Leaking washing machine water shut off
- Leaking solder joint
- Bathroom remodel
- Kitchen remodel
- Burst wall faucet or spigot
When a qualified master plumber builds a home there should always be isolation valves.
What are these? Generally in plumbing terminology when you say isolation valve you’re talking
about any additional water shut off beyond the entrance valve to isolate a particular plumbing fixture or appliance.
Examples of these are angle stops and straight stops under your kitchen and bathroom sink faucets or your toilets.
The water heater should have a water shut off on the cold water pipe entering the tank for maintenance and repair purposes.
Your refrigerator and furnace humidifier should have isolation valves.
And when these valves fail and need to be replaced you shut the water off to your house at the entrance valve.
An entrance valve is the first water shut off on your water service as it enters the house. Should you ever need to shut the water off to your house, the entrance valve will be the valve to turn off.
You can normally find your entrance valve by standing by your water meter service lid in your front yard and face your home.
The entrance valve will normally be a couple of feet above the basement floor going through the wall.
You’ll also quite often see a wall faucet or spigot on the outside of the house just above where the entrance valve is inside the house.
These are usually seen in two different types of valves; either a compression valve or ball valve.
A compression style valve has a brass screw with a rubber washer on the end.
As you turn the handle clockwise the screw moves toward an opening in the valve called the seat.
When turned all the way, it blocks the hole completely which stops the flow of water.
These are prone to leaking due to the rubber washer failing.
A ball valve is a brass ball with a hole through it. It normally has a lever or tee handle.
You turn it 90 degrees on or off. This is why it’s often called a quarter turn valve.
When in the on position, the hole in the brass ball is alligned with the flow of water and allows water through it.
When in the off position the hole is facing the sides of valve and water can’t pass through.
Ball valves are normally considered the preferred style valve due to the lack of maintenance and ease of use.
Water Meter Shut Off
On occasion, an entrance valve will not work properly. It can leak due to a failed rubber seat in a compression style valve or simply be damaged. When this happens you’ll have to use the water meter shut off to turn off your water.
These can be a compression style valve but are almost always a ball valve style. They may have the usual lever handle but almost always have the hash mark lever as I call it. Turn the valve handle the opposite direction it’s in as far as it will go and that will be the off position. They sometimes have integral holes on the handle that line up with another molded hole when in the off position. This allows the water company to lock your meter in the off position if you don’t pay your bill. If the meter shut off is accessible, you can normally use a pair of pliers to shut it off. Otherwise, you can purchase a meter key at your local home store for about 20 bucks.
I hope this has been helpful. Don’t ever be afraid to turn off your water in whatever form valve it might take. They’re just like a light switch. And they’re there to be used. But if you find yourself unable to do it as I’ve described above or simply don’t want to, give us a call at Advocate Master Plumbing. It’s the local family owned plumbing contractor where you are guaranteed to get a master plumber every time.