The main water shut off is a valve that shuts off all water coming into your house from the public utility (water company), or private supply (your well). It is important to know where this valve is and just as important to know if it works. Since most plumbing codes require all fixtures (toilets, faucets, showers, tubs etc.) to have an individual shut off valve, the main water shut off is very rarely used. Fixture shut offs are important and if there is a leak on a toilet or sink the water can be shut off to that fixture. The big problem is when there is a leak in the water piping system or when a fixture shut off does not operate properly. In this case you will need to shut off ALL water coming into the house until the problem can be resolved.
We should all know where the main water shut off is in your house, condo, townhouse or apartment. In houses there are a few common locations. A water loop in the garage with a valve is very common. A pipe coming out of the ground running up to an outdoor hose bib is another common scenario. In some cases a valve box in the yard with the valve buried is another possible location. If you happen to have a water softener, filter or other type of water conditioner there will be a valve located at that device which should shut off all water coming into the house. In attached homes such as condos, townhouses or apartments the main water shut offs can be outside near your unit or at the end of the building in a group. Another common location in attached buildings are in the laundry room, closet or kitchen cabinet.
Now that you have located the main water shut off, we must determine if it will work when needed because devices and equipment that are rarely used tend to rarely work as designed and the reason you will need to use this valve is generally an emergency. ie: water pouring out of the ceiling onto grandma’s antique china cabinet. Keeping this all in mind, now is the time to test the main water shut off. Not NOW if you are reading this at 7:00 PM on a Sunday evening, but now meaning a weekday during business hours because then in the event the valve does not work , help is only a phone call away.
To be clear, help is only a phone call away any time night or day, any day of the year with The Pampering Plumber, but why create an emergency when this test can be done at your leisure at a more convenient time for everyone.
If your main water shut off has a round handle, turning it clockwise should shut the water off. If the valve is a lever type, turning the lever so it is perpendicular to the pipe it is attached to should shut off the water.
No matter what type of valve you have once it is in the off positon opening faucets should only produce residual water which should stop flowing in a few seconds. Once the water has stopped flowing, shut off the open faucets and wait a few seconds then open a faucet. If you get a full faucet stream, even if it slows and stops again, the valve is not holding. You can repeat this test again and unless opening the faucet produces no water, there is a problem with the main water shut off.
If your main water shut off does not work, or if you cannot locate it, or if you are not comfortable testing it on your own, simply call The Pampering Plumber at 727-232-8400 or 813-926-0707 and they will help you find it, test it and if there is problem they will be right there with any necessary materials and tools to repair or change out the valve.