Home Emergencies: How to Shut Off the Water

Home emergencies occur and some problems are more critical than others. Water emergencies should be dealt with right away, regardless of whether the water is coming in from outside, or from a plumbing leak inside your home.

It's important to deal with water emergencies immediately because water or high levels of moisture can cause ongoing damage, often hidden, increasing the risk of mold and higher repair costs.

If you notice a stain in your ceiling, it is likely that that the water leak that caused it may be days or weeks old. Additionally, there may be more damage hidden between the ceiling and the walls or floors above.

Learn Where Water Shutoff Valves Are

When you buy a home, you should find out, as soon as possible, where you can shut off the water supply inside your home or the main supply where it enters the house. By learning where your shutoff valves are located you will be prepared for any emergency that requires shutting off the water. Do not forget to practice opening and closing them at least once. Your plumbing system starts with a shutoff valve at the point where the water enters the house. Most fixtures like toilets, have a shutoff valve that can be used to stop the flow of water from the main system, to a single fixture.

Turn Handle Clockwise to Shut Water Supply Off

• To stop the leak, identify the shutoff valve that will stop the flow of water and turn it off once you know where the water is leaking.

• Use a pair of slip-joint pliers to grip and turn the handle of the shut off valve, rotating it CLOCKWISE until it stops thus completely
closing it.

• In cold climates, it is becoming more common to add shutoff valves near the washing machine, as plumbing located in an unheated space, can freeze.

Try Shutting Off Single Fixture First

Here are all the places where you can close the shut off valves, whilst leaving the main water supply on

• Near the water meter (main shutoff), where the water enters your home. The valve may be found outside in warm climates but always
inside in cold climates.

• Under each sink there should be two (2) shutoff valves, one each for cold and hot water supply lines. After the kitchen and bathrooms, don't forget about utility and/or bar sinks.

• The water supply line to the dishwasher is typically connected to the water line under the sink, and can be shutoff by turning off the water supply to the sink.

• Each toilet has a shutoff valve behind the toilet, most often on the left side.

• The washing machine should have valves behind it that are easy to access, and turn off.

• There is a shutoff valve on the cold water pipe coming into the top of your hot water heater.

• The refrigerator ice maker has its' own small shut off valves however it may be controlled by the kitchen sink or other water supply valve.

• Bathtubs and showers do not have special shutoff valves as their regular on and off controls serves the same purpose.

• There are shutoff valves for exterior plumbing including faucets and a sprinkler system.

Tina Gleisner, founder of the Association of Women Home Owners connects homeowners with concepts, terminology and advice to build homes that support today's lifestyles. Through the library and directory at www.HomeTips4Women.com, you can LEARN more about how to maintain and repair your home and more.


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