If you’re sitting in your basement and suddenly water starts pouring from the ceiling, you’re going to want to know where your water main shutoff valve is located. The difference between getting to the valve quickly and having to search for it can be several thousand dollars of damage, so it is important to discover the location before such an emergency happens. The easiest way to learn the location of the water main shutoff valve is to ask about it when purchasing the home, but if it’s too late for that there are still a few ways to locate it.
Whether your water main shutoff valve is located inside your home or outside depends on your climate. In climates with very cold winters, the valve is usually located in the basement. For plumbing in Baltimore and other milder climates, the valve could be located somewhere along the exterior of the home, or in an underground box in the yard. If you’ve found some sort of valve and aren’t sure whether it is the main shutoff, look for a meter nearby. The main shutoff valve will always be located next to your home’s water meter, which keeps track of how much water your home uses.
But wait, there are two valves, one on each side of the meter, so which one should you turn? It is recommended that in an emergency, or if you need to shut off the water to install or repair something in your plumbing, that you shut off the house side valve, or the valve closest to your home. The valve will sometimes have a round handle, which needs to be turned clockwise several times to prevent water flow. In newer homes, you may have a ball valve instead. If the ball valve’s lever is running parallel to the line, water is allowed to pass through, so pull the lever towards you to shut off the water.
Sometimes leaks and other plumbing problems are more localized, and you won’t need to shut off water to the whole house. It is important to know the locations of these valves as well. Toilets typically have valves hidden behind them, and you can often find a sink’s shutoff valve in the vanity or cupboard beneath it. This way, if your sink or toilet is ever overflowing you can quickly shutoff the water supply before too much flooding occurs. You never know when these plumbing emergencies can occur, so be prepared.
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