Where and How to Shut Off Water
Knowing where and how to shut off water for the entire
house or any part of it can be mighty important in an emergency. That's
why it is extremely important for all members of the family to know where
the valves are and in which direction they should be turned to shut off
One way to identify the valves is to have a tag on
each valve indicating its function, that is, which fixtures or group of
fixtures it controls. Valve- identifying tags may be obtained from plumbing
dealers. Many plumbers are glad to offer a valve tagging service to their
customers or prospective customers.
Another method of identification is by means of a
valve chart. Because this is somewhat more elaborate, it is usually employed
only for houses with several bathrooms. A drawing is made of the basement
piping with all the valves indicated. The valves are numbered on the chart
and tags with corresponding numbers are placed on the valves. Still another
idea which aids in identification is to paint pipes a distinctive color.
Obviously, the most important valve in the house is
the main shut-off valve for the entire plumbing system. This valve, generally
located on the house side of the water meter, usually has a handle like
a wheel If it has not been used in many years, it may require a wrench
to turn it. Because the easy operation of this valve in case of emergency
is so important, it is advisable to place a few drops of oil around the
valve handle once or twice a year. This will prevent the sticking action
The shut-off valve may be the ground-key type with
a small hole bored in its side for draining the pipes after the water
is shut off or it may be a drain and stop with a cap nut covering the
drain opening. In either case, close the opening before turning the water
off. Unless this is done, water will spurt with force.
Where no means has been provided for shutting off
a drain opening, drive a small wooden peg into it until the pressure is
relieved by draining the piping that is exposed.
In addition to the main strut-off valve at the meter,
the well plumbed house has individual shut-off valves on the branch lines
leading to individual fixtures, groups of fixtures or equipment such as
water heaters, water softeners, automatic washers, etc.
Many contractors, when installing plumbing fixtures,
provide separate strut-off valves or stops for each individual fixture.
These will be found on the supply lines below the fixture. These individual
stops are a great convenience to regulate water flow in case of repairs
as well as emergencies.