The plumbing system in your home has a number of water shut-off valves that control the flow of water from pipes that run through the house. These valves let you turn the water off in the case of an emergency, when repairs need to be made, or when your home will be vacant for a period of time.
Understanding where these water valves are located is very important, since you may not have much time to figure it out in an emergency, and it will be absolutely necessary if plumbing repairs need to be made. Some common locations where your main shut-off valve might be located include:
- Where the main source of water line enters your home
- In the area where your washing machine is located
- Next to the water heater
The importance of reliable water supply valves
Your shut-off valves should be periodically evaluated to ensure their performance should you need to use them. This is particularly important if you own a seasonal home or vacation rental property. This is a key piece of information you and your guests should have knowledge of, should a situation occur that would require the water to be shut off in the home.
Types of valves range from the main water valve closest to where water first enters your home, to smaller valves that are located at the appliance level (sinks, toilets and other appliances). Most valves open and close using a rotating valve to allow water to flow/not flow. These valves can be made of bronze, steel, and plastic. If you have plastic valves in your home, you may want to consider replacing them with a reliable, stainless steel valve (even more so if your main cut-off is plastic). Plastic valves are sometimes used as a more economical option; however, if the valve is rated within the temperature and pressure being applied, stress on a plastic valve can cause damage over time. If you don’t know where it is, or think you don’t have a main cut-off, a plumbing professional can show you where yours is located or recommend a suitable valve for your home.
The Steel Ball Valve
A steel ball valve is typically a large, metal valve with a lever-type handle on it. It’s designed to be quick and easy to turn off; the valve simply opens and closes with a short, quarter-turn of the handle. This is a very common valve seen in home main shut-offs. The internal ball has a hole through the center of it. When the valve is open, the hole lines up with water pipe, allowing water flow. When the handle is closed, the ball turns 90°, blocking the hole in the ball. This is our valve of choice due to the reliable nature of the material and design.
Turning the Water Off for a Fixture or Appliance
At some point in time you may encounter a faucet that you can’t seem to turn off, a toilet that continually runs, maybe a leak in the ice maker or washing machine. The first step is turning off the water supply to that appliance. Cutting off the water at the appliance level allows you to continue using other appliances while a repair is being made.
To turn off the water supply to the sink: The cut-off valves are located under the sink, where the water supply tubes run up to the faucet. There should be one for the hot water and one for the cold water. Turn the valve clockwise to close it off. Test the faucet to be sure you closed the correct valve(s).
To shut off the water to the toilet: A shut-off valve can be found below the tank at the base of the toilet. There’s only one valve because toilets use cold water only.
Closing off the water supply to a tub/shower: Most cut-off valves for tubs and showers are located either under the floor – in a basement or in the ceiling directly below the bathroom above. You will need to check behind any ceiling tiles that exist. This can be a little trickier, so a plumbing professional should be called if you’re not sure if that is the correct valve.
Dishwashers have a water supply tube that most likely runs under the kitchen sink. There should be a shut-off valve controlling the flow of water running through that tube.
Your refrigerator’s ice maker probably has a small supply tube running down the refrigerator with a tiny valve that can be used to cut off the water supply.
The washing machine has two water supply valves; one for the cold water and one for the hot water. If you have a utility sink next to it, the valve is mostly located in that area. Otherwise, you probably have a water supply valve box in the wall.
Not sure where your shut-off valves are located? We can help!
It’s critically important to make sure your valves are in good shape and can operate properly. Even valves that have not been touched in decades can easily fail after years of non-use. Call us today to schedule an appointment to ensure your valves are in good working order.