When left unchecked, water damage from broken pipework, faulty fixtures, and other plumbing issues can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. If you want to minimize the problem while waiting for a professional to arrive, you need to know how to locate and use your water shut-off valve.
Our experts at MT Drains and Plumbing are here to help you understand the different types of valves to prepare you when an emergency strikes.
What is a Water Shut Off Valve?
A water shut-off valve is a device that allows you to quickly and easily turn off the water supply to your home. It’s instrumental in the event of a broken pipe or any plumbing issue that could cause water damage.
Let’s go over the different types of water shut-off valves and how to use them.
1. Ball valve
A ball valve is the most commonly used valve for residential plumbing. They’re highly durable and can withstand high water pressure, making them ideal for main water lines. Simply turn the lever to the “off” position, and the water flow will immediately stop.
Next, you need to relieve the pressure inside the pipes by draining away the remaining water. Turn on a fixture located in the lowest part of your home, such as a faucet in the basement, letting the water run until it’s completely gone.
After fixing your plumbing issue, you can restore water to your home by turning the lever back to the “on” position. Check its seal by turning on a high-pressure fixture, such as a shower, and ensuring the water flow is steady and consistent.
2. Gate Valve
A gate valve is similar to a ball valve, but it operates with a wheel instead of a lever. These devices are mainly for industrial applications, but some homes may have them as well.
To shut off water to your house, simply rotate the wheel clockwise. You can then follow our instructions for relieving pipework pressure and restoring your water flow.
3. Supply Stop Valve
If you suspect that your issue lies with a single fixture, such as a toilet or washing machine, you can stop the water flow to the fixture itself. Try to search for a water shut-off valve underneath or behind the plumbing appliance.
These devices come in “angled” and “straight” designs, both resembling miniature gate valves. You can turn them off by rotating the handle in a clockwise direction, then follow our instructions for relieving pressure and restoring water to your home.
4. Stop-and-Waste Valve
Are you dealing with an outdoor plumbing issue, such as a broken sprinkler head? If so, you can try looking for your stop-and-waste valve in your yard. These devices are large and easy to spot, so they’re great for quickly shutting off the water supply in an emergency.
Locate the cover for your valve box and remove it to access the valve. You need a unique tool called a meter key to turn it, which you can purchase at most hardware stores.
After closing the water shut-off valve, use a garden hose to drain away any water remaining in your pipes. You can open up the valve by turning it counterclockwise with your meter key after fixing your plumbing issue.
5. Saddle Valve
A saddle valve is a small, T-shaped device that connects plumbing appliances to your water supply without needing to solder them. Refrigerators, humidifiers, and ice makers often have these valves installed. To shut off the water, turn the handle in a clockwise direction.
Since modern building codes prohibit the installation of new saddle valves, you should only encounter them in older homes. Our plumbing experts can replace them with a more modern valve if necessary.
Locating Your Main Water Shut Off Valve
Every property is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, here are a few tips that will help you find your main water shut off valve:
Inside Your Home
Municipal water supply lines usually enter homes through the basement, so that’s the first place you should start looking. Check all exposed pipework in your basement until you find a large valve at eye level. Another great place to look is near your water heater since the supply line will likely enter your home near this appliance.
If you can’t find it in the basement, try checking in rooms along exterior walls facing the street. Valves found on the main level of homes are often below eye level, hiding inside cabinets or closets.
Outdoors Near Your Water Meter
What if you can’t find the valve inside your home? In this case, your best bet is to check for it outside near your water meter.
Start by removing the lid from your water meter box. Keep in mind that you will likely need a meter key or a screwdriver to do this. Once it’s off, you should see your main shut-off valve inside the box.
You might see two valves side-by-side: one for you, the homeowner, and one for your municipality. The valve you’re looking for is the one nearer your home. If you see only one valve, contact your municipality first to check if you’re allowed to turn it off.
Get Your Plumbing Issue Fixed Today
At MT Drains and Plumbing, we understand that plumbing disasters can strike at any time. That’s why we’re proud to offer 24/7 emergency services to our customers in Vaughan, Barrie, Richmond Hill, Toronto, Markham, Newmarket, Etobicoke, ON, and the surrounding area.
We hoped that our water shut-off valve guide was helpful. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a service, please contact us at (905) 761-5551 today!