If you live in the Village of Valley Stream, or anywhere on Long Island, knowing where is your main water shut off valve is located can be very helpful. In times of an emergency this can be vital information. For example, if you have a severely damaged or leaking water supply pipe in your house, the first thing you should do is to turn off the water. You can do this by turning the main shut off valve perpendicular to the pipe to which it is attached. This method works when the leaky pipe is located on the house side of the valve.
The importance of locating your main water shut off valve
Knowing the location of the main water shut off valve, and how to use it, can save you from having a flood. A leaky water line can flood your basement, bathroom, kitchen, or any room in which a major leak happens. If there is no water coming from the supply line, at least you can stop the flooding at the expense of not being able to use some water fixtures. Once you close the main water shut off valve, you can look for a branch line valve to isolate the leak. Finding your water valve before an emergency occurs is vital. So when you must turn the water off quickly, it’s best to know in advance exactly where to do that.
So where is your main valve to shut any way?
In most cases, the shut off valve is located in the basement or in the utility area. The valve is also usually installed just next to the water meter along the same pipe. In most homes nowadays here are multiple main control valves. It is always advisable not to close the valve closest to the street side of the meter. Always choose to close the main valve on the house side of the meter. The reason being is that if it malfunctions, you have the valve on the street side as a back up. In some cases, if your flooded out, you probably have a sidewalk valve.
Different valves are operated differently
Main shut off valves come in some different designs. There are two most common designs, including a Gate type and Ball type valve. There isn’t much of a difference between the two in terms of their function. However they are quite different in their closing and opening mechanisms.
- A Gate Valve uses a metal plate (the gate) to block the flow of water. You turn the handle a number of times to lift the gate up to allow flow of water, or to lower the gate down to stop it. In case you have this type of valve, please make time to open and close the gate periodically. This exercising of the valve every once in a while to loosens corrosion, and keeps the valve limber. never use brute force to make a gate valve operate, you will snap the stem, and make the valve useless and frozen in place.
- Ball valves use a metal ball housed in a metal casing to allow or stop the flow of water. It is easier to operate than the gate type yet it does exactly the same job. You only need to flick the lever ¼ of the way to turn off the water and turn it back on. Also, unlike a gate type valve, it is fairly indestructible. It takes severe abuse to make a ball valve fail.
Share the main valve location information and label it clearly
Make sure everyone in the house knows where the shut off valve is, and understand how to operate it as well. It is advisable to clearly label which is the valve to use. It is equally as advisable to clearly label which valve should not be used. Depending on the type of the valve, it may take a little bit of force to open or block water. But no matter how tempting using force may be, never do it. Finesse will win the day. You can add a wrench on the handle for added leverage, or loosen the packing nut near the top of the valve. Either of these tips can prevent you from breaking your main valve in place, or a family member closing the wrong valve.
Your main water shut off valve is important not only in times of emergency, but also when you need to do regular maintenance or install new water fixture. For example, if you need to turn the water off anytime you drain your water heater tank, or replace a faucet that does not have a branch line valve. In case you must reduce water pressure by installing a pressure reducer, you have to turn off the water first as well.
Stopping water flow in the supply line does prevent you from using all fixtures in the house, such as shower or even toilet. If you have a leaking pipe, however, turning the water off is unavoidable. If not you will have a flooded house in no time, especially with a pretty big leak. Call a professional immediately after you turn off the water, not the other way around. Feel free to contact the Balkan Team for expert advice, service, or repairs 7 days a week.