Although water is incredibly useful, it can also cause significant damage when left unchecked. Even small water leaks can cause major problems in a home, including mold growth, structural issues, and more. To help prevent damage to your Los Angeles home, it’s important to understand how the entire plumbing system works so that you can take action if you notice an issue.
One of the most important parts of your home’s plumbing system is the main water shut-off valve. Given this valve’s role in controlling water to your home, we think it’s important to understand what it can and can’t do to help you during a plumbing emergency. It’s also good to know where your shut-off valve is located so that you can access it quickly if there’s a problem.
What Does a Shut-Off Valve Do?
A shut-off valve of any kind is designed to reduce or entirely stop the flow of water from one location to another. If you take a walk through your home, you’ll likely notice multiple shut-off valves on various plumbing fixtures. Your home’s main shut-off valve controls the flow of water to your entire home.
It is connected to the water supply that comes into your home from the street. Since the main shut-off valve can control water to all of the pipes in your home, it is ideal if you need to respond to a major plumbing emergency or when there’s a leak in a plumbing fixture that is not equipped with an individual shut-off valve.
Where Is the Main Shut-Off Valve?
At Restorerz - Emergency Services, we believe that knowledge is power. Understanding where your shut-off valve is located can save valuable seconds when water is gushing out of a major pipe in your home. If your home has a basement, start there when looking for your main shut-off valve. Since the supply line runs underground, it will often come in through the basement before branching off to feed the fixtures on the other levels.
If you have a crawl space or a slab foundation, the best place to start is in your home’s utility closet. Typically, the shut-off valve will be located close to an exterior wall. Therefore, if one of your utility closet walls is an outside wall, you can look there for the shut-off valve. Your shut-off valve will often be marked by a tag from your water company indicating which valve is the main shut-off valve. Once you find the valve, make sure that it is marked so that it is easily visible to and identifiable by anyone who lives in your home.
Understanding Different Types of Shut-Off Valves
Although all shut-off valves operate similarly, they are not all designed for the same purpose. While your main shut-off valve is extremely important, there are other shut-off valves in your home that we think you should know about.
For example, you’ll typically find small shut-off valves on both your hot and cold-water supply lines running to the sinks in your home. These valves usually have a small handle that you turn to control the flow of water to the fixture. Toilets also have a shut-off valve to control the cold-water supply going to the tank.
When plumbers install supply lines for washers and dryers, they typically equip them with shut-off valves that resemble an outdoor spigot. That’s because these supply lines are larger and need a more robust valve to control the flow of water.
How to Maintain Your Home’s Shut-Off Valve
Given the large volume of water that passes through your home’s main shut-off valve, it’s important to maintain it so that it can perform as expected if you face a plumbing problem. The good news is that typical maintenance is quite easy and doesn’t need the assistance of a plumber.
For all types of shut-off valves, make sure to turn them on and off at least once a year. This will clear the valve mechanism of any debris that could cause corrosion. One type of valve, called a gate valve, may need to be tightened using a standard screwdriver to help prevent leaks around the valve. Speaking of leaks, it’s good to check your main shut-off valve for signs of leaks at least once a month so that you can catch problems before they cause major damage that requires the assistance of Restorerz - Emergency Services.
How to Assess Which Shut-Off Valve to Use
Since you have multiple water shut-off valves in your home, you may wonder which one you should use in certain situations. After all, you don’t want to cut water to your entire home if you can successfully take care of the problem with an auxiliary shut-off valve.
If you can see where the leak is coming from and it is located downline of an auxiliary shut-off valve, we recommend that you use this valve instead of the main shut-off valve. Using the main valve can introduce air into the system and cause scale on the pipes’ walls to come loose. Then, when you turn the water back on at the main valve, the scale can become trapped in aerators on your faucets and clog them. Therefore, for leaks at sinks, toilets, washers and dryers, dishwashers and other fixtures with a shut-off valve, it’s best to use the individual shut-off valve.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with a major leak that is causing flooding anywhere in your home, it’s best to use the main shut-off valve, even if the leak is located down the line from a localized valve. A major leak could be indicative of a problem with the localized valve in addition to the supply lines. Rather than take chances, it’s best to use the main valve. Additionally, if you’re having a problem with a bathtub or shower, you’ll need to use the main shut-off valve since these fixtures are not equipped with an auxiliary valve.
Supply-Side Shut-Off Valve
In some cases, there may be another shut-off valve that’s located with your home’s water meter. These are typically below ground, protected by a metal cover labeled “water supply” or something similar. If you need to access this valve, you’ll need a special tool to remove the bolt holding the cover in place. Typically, it’s best to let a plumber handle problems with this valve since it is so hard to access. As a last-ditch effort to stop water problems in your home, though, it’s good to know if your home is equipped with this supply-side shut-off valve.
Call for Help with Home Damage Big and Small
Dealing with a plumbing issue can be quite stressful. That’s why the restoration experts at Restorerz - Emergency Services will work hard to help repair any damage from plumbing issues so that you can resume normal life as soon as possible. We can also take care of fire and smoke restoration, mold remediation, carpet cleanup, biohazard cleanup and much more. Our customers in Los Angeles consistently leave us five-star reviews to reward us for our superb service. To learn more about protecting your home from water damage, contact us at Restorerz - Emergency Services today.