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How to Turn Off Your Main Water Supply Valve in an Emergency

Water Valves

The plumbing industry has hundreds upon hundreds of complicated rules and regulations for one simple reason: homes and water do not mix. Even a little bit of water getting where it does not belong can cause mold to grow in your walls and damage wood flooring. A serious leak can cause devastation in less than a minute. Before you even think of calling for a Houston water heater repair or other plumbing services due to a leak, your first task is to shut off the main water supply valve as quickly as possible.

Know Where the Valve Is Located

Everyone knows where their electrical circuit breaker box is, but many homeowners do not know where their main water supply valve is located. For Houston and other warm climates, you will typically find your main valve in a hard plastic box in the ground near the street, and we recommend keeping the lid free of grass and dirt so that you can find it in an emergency. If you cannot locate the valve near the street, sometimes you will find it near the foundation of your home.

Identify the Type of Valve

Your home should have one of these two types of valves:

  • Gate valve
  • Ball valve

Gate valves are very durable, and their internal mechanisms often work for decades without issue. However, they can be next to impossible to turn on or off if you have not touched them in a while. Ball valves are also common, and because they have a handle, they are easier to turn, but they can start leaking after years of service.

Be Prepared

It is always a good idea to test the main supply valve once a year to make sure that you can turn it on and off without difficulty. If your home has a gate valve, consider purchasing what is known as a gate valve key — a long metal bar with a slotted end that fits onto the gate valve and makes turning the valve on and off easier. Don’t want to purchase another tool? An adjustable wrench with at least a 10-inch handle should work in an emergency.

How to Turn the Water Back On

Once the water is off, you can breathe a sigh of relief and schedule a Houston toilet repair or any other service that you need to stop the water leak in your home. Your plumber should turn the valve back on when they have repaired the problem. In the event that your ball valve begins leaking, tighten its packing nut just enough to stop the leaking but not enough to stop the flow of water.

Ready to learn other tips that will keep you prepared for any plumbing emergency? Get in touch with the Houston plumber professionals at Santhoff Plumbing at (713) 360-2185 today!

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