A small upgrade can make a huge difference

There are some things you just never think about until you are forced to:

Where is your certified birth certificate?

What’s your emergency contact’s phone number?

What’s your blood type?

How do you jump-start a car?

Where is the water shut off to your house?

I’ll be honest. I could probably walk you through how to jump-start your car. But I’ll leave that to an expert in car repair.

What I can help you with is where your water shut-off valve is, what it does, and why it’s important to make sure it’s in good working order.

Gate Valve

What is a water shut-off valve?

As the name implies, it’s the place in your home where the water supply enters. And there’s a knob, handle, lever, or handwheel to start or stop the flow of water into your home.

Attached to the handle is a valve inside of the supply pipe that is responsible for stopping the water flow.

Water shut-off valves are usually gate valves or ball valves.

Ball Valve

Gate valves are more often found in older homes and take longer to completely shut off the water supply.

Ball valves are found in newer homes, require more space for the handle, are more expensive, and turn off the water flow immediately.

Why are water shut-off valves important?

Unless you’ve had a plumbing emergency, you may not know where your home’s water shut-off is located. And if you’ve had the misfortune of experiencing a major water leak or flooding in your home, you know that being aware of where your shut-off valve is prior to an emergency is really important.

Times when you need to shut off the water supply to your home:

  • Interior water leak
  • Flooding
  • Plumbing repair or fixture replacement
  • Extended absence/vacation
  • Frozen pipes

Stopping the water from damaging or further damaging your home is of the utmost importance.

Where is the water shut-off valve located?

Shut-off valves aren’t located in the exact same spot in every house, but here’s where you should start looking for yours:

Lowest level of your house

Front wall of your home

Near your water heater

Near pipes or a plumbing fixture, i.e. under sink, near toilet, in wall behind access panel

Please don’t mistake a specific plumbing fixture’s supply valves for your home’s water shut-off valve. Near each toilet and sink, you’ll find a short pipe with a knob that will turn off the water to that fixture, not the entire house.

Anyone that can be left alone in your home should know where the shut off valve is.

Is your water shut-off valve in working order?

Now that you’ve located your home’s main water supply shut-off valve and shown each of your family members and the pet sitter where it is, you need to determine if it’s in good working order.

4 reasons to replace your main water shut-off valve:

  • Age of your house
  • Type of handle, i.e. knob, handwheel, lever
  • Visible rust or corrosion
  • Ease of use

Age of your house

If your house is more than 25 years old, it’s likely the builder installed a gate valve as your main shut-off valve. Gate valves do not last as long as ball valves. Upgrading to a ball valve is a fairly simple project. One of our technicians could easily replace your shut-off valve while at your home for a service call or a fixture replacement.

Type of handle

The type of handle attached to your shut-off valve will give you the best idea of what type of valve you have. A knob handle like you’d find on your outdoor water house faucet likely means you have a gate valve. If you have a lever or straight handle, you have a ball valve.

During an emergency, having a ball valve with a straight handle is a huge benefit. Ball valves only require a quarter turn to completely shut off your water supply. Plus, you can look at a ball valve handle and know whether it is open or closed.

  • Open – Handle is parallel to the pipe
  • Closed – Handle is perpendicular to the pipe

Visible rust or corrosion

Regardless of the type of valve you have, rust or corrosion of any kind is a sign you need to replace your water shut-off valve.

Ease of use

Once you’ve located your main water supply shut-off valve, test it. We recommend testing it during normal business hours in case it gets stuck. Otherwise, you’ll be without running water overnight or a few days. Or be saddled with an emergency plumbing bill. Does it turn smoothly? Does it feel stuck? Does the handle feel too loose? Could you easily turn it during an emergency or will it require a feat of strength?

Act Now: Install a new water shut-off valve before an unforeseen emergency occurs.

It may seem small, and technically, a water shut-off valve is a small device and a small project. But that small device has a major impact on your home.

If you find an old or corroded shut-off valve, call us for a free, on-site estimate. We can upgrade your shut-off valve as an add-on service while we’re on a service call or installing water-saving devices to your showers and sinks

Here’s my personal promise to you: When you call with a question or to schedule an on-site estimate, there will be no pressure. No obligation. We will not sell you a plumbing solution you don’t need or want.

Questions? Give us a call at (925) 872-0805.

Thanks for letting us be your trusted plumber.

Phil Barnett
President of Barnett Plumbing & Water Heaters