Do you know as much about your water shutoff valves as you might need to know in a plumbing emergency? Knowing where the valves are located and what they do could help prevent water damage in your home. Here’s a basic primer to familiarize you with shutoff valves.
Main Water Shutoff Valve
Make sure everyone in your family is familiar with the main shutoff valve in case of an emergency. It controls the water supply for the entire house from your city water line, and should always be turned off in case of burst plumbing pipes.
The main water shutoff valve is generally located in a basement, by an outside wall near a utility area or near the curb in front of your house. Most homes will have what are termed gate valves, where a metal wedge is moved back and forth to open or close the water supply, or ball valves, which are handles that align with the water pipe to allow water through. Whichever type you have, be sure you know how to turn it off and have your family members practice as well.
The valve that controls the water supply to the sink is usually right under the sink and easy to find. The dishwasher valve should be close by, perhaps on the hot water supply line, although in a home with a basement, the valve may be accessed through the basement pipes leading to the dishwasher.
The valve for the toilet is usually in plain sight, under the tank. Valves for sinks may be inside a vanity cabinet but may be on the other side of the wall or above the ceiling for pedestal sinks. There may also be an access hatch for the tub and shower.
You should also locate shutoff valves for these:
- Water heater — usually right above the top of the appliance
- Outside faucets — trace the line through the garage or basement to find the valve
- Washing machine — usually behind or above the washer
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