Plumbing leak that won’t stop? Broken water pipe and flooding water? Need to replace a washer in a faucet? Just where is my water shut off valve when I need it? Obviously, in emergencies and other times of need, you don’t want to spend time scrambling around looking for the right water shut off valve. You want to get ahead of emergencies and leak repairs by knowing where the water shut off values are.
When engaged in leak detection to repair dripping faucets, running toilets, or puddles of water under your refrigerator the water must be shut off before repairs can be made.
· Sink faucets. Two shut off knobs can be found under the sink. The left one is for the hot water and the right is for cold. Some utility room sinks may only be plumbed for cold water, in which case there will be only one knob. Turn these knobs clockwise to close the valve. This means the water is shut off right behind the knob and applies only to that faucet.
· Toilets. Toilets use only cold water, so there is only one shut off knob and it will be on the wall behind the toilet. You can follow the water hose line that is attached to the toilet tank back to the wall to find the shut off valve knob.
· Showers and tubs. Showers and tubs are out in the open with nothing to put a shut off valve behind. Depending on your house design, this valve could be in one of three places: 1) In a utility panel somewhere near the tub faucets or below the shower head on the wall 2) in a panel on the other side of the wall behind the faucet knobs 3) In a ceiling panel directly below the shower/tub or in the basement ceiling, if you have one.
· Dishwashers. Dishwashers often have a water shut off under the kitchen sink, near the sink shut off valves. Look for the water supply hose that runs to the dishwasher and follow it back.
· Refrigerators. Find the copper tube or mesh tube and look for a valve on the line. If none is present, it may run into the cabinet space under the kitchen sink and have a shut off there.
· Washing machines. Depending on how the hot and cold water lines are set up for your washer, the shut off may simply be the hot and cold water taps in the utility sink or knobs in a recessed panel on the wall near or behind the machine.
Shutting off water to the hot water heater
There are two shut off valves related to the hot water heater and they are often very close together. In most cases, they are color coded, blue for cold water and red for hot. All the water that enters the hot water heater is cold. Shutting down this line cuts the water to the heater. When it is heated and ready to be distributed to the rest of the house, it flows out through the hot water pipe. Shutting this line disconnects the hot water heater from the hot water feed lines throughout the house. If these valves
are not color coded, you can probably tell them apart by the temperature of the pipe or where the water is leaking. Be careful, as the pipes can be very hot. Be sure to immediately color code them for your own safety.
Locating the main shut off valve
If there is one shut off valve you MUST know the location of, it is the main shut off. If a pipe bursts, water will flood the space with force. Only turning off the main water feed will halt the problem. When this valve is shut off, the main water line into your house is disconnected from your inside plumbing. The only water remaining is the standing water inside your pipes and in your water heater.
Different houses, different ages, different regions and different city regulations may dictate where this shut off valve is. This blog will list the most likely places, but if you can’t find the valve, it may have been installed in an unusual place. Give Benjamin Franklin Plumbing a call. We’ll locate the valve quickly for you and if need be, move the shut off value to a more convenient place. In fact, we will gladly tag all your household shut off valves for you, so they are easy to spot in the future.
Here are some pro tips on finding that main shut off valve:
· Find the metal cover for the water main at your street level. It may be slightly on your property at the curb or in the street. It will be surrounded by a concrete box. That water line will be run up to your house as straight as possible. Walk up to your foundation and see if you can find a pipe with a lever that is entering your house. If so, that is your water main and cut off.
· If you can find the pipe but there is no valve, it may have been placed inside the house. Go inside the house and find where the pipe enters. Somewhere close by is the main water shut off valve.
· Check the inspection report that was given to you when you bought the house. The location of the shut off valve is shown in this report, usually with a photo of the site.
· It may be behind an access panel somewhere in your basement, crawl space or first floor.
· We have seen it happen that a previous owner paneled over the shut off value in ignorance. It can happen.
Shut off valve types
The two main valve types you may run into are gate valves and ball valves.
· Gate valves are the wheel shaped knobs that takes several turns to close or open. If it has not been turned for years, it may be difficult to turn or to close completely. Better you find out now than when you have an emergency. Turn it off and back on. If it is really stuck, call us.
· Ball valves have handles that look like butter knives. They only turn one way. If the handle is in line with the pipe, the valve is open. Turn it one quarter turn (in the direction it allows you to turn it) and when it is at right angles to the pipe, the valve is closed.
A good idea…
…is to have a Benjamin Franklin plumber come out and inspect your plumbing and label your various shut off valves. At the same time, we will perform a general inspection and advise you of any issues that may become an issue down the road. We have built a reputation on service, not on upsell. We are members of your community and we know that if we can amaze you with courteous and professional
service at good rates, we’ll have an opportunity to help keep your plumbing and fixtures in tip-top condition for the long term.