An incredible step towards ensuring that your home is prepared for an emergency is knowing where your water shut-off valves are. Educating yourself on how and where to turn off your main water supply can help prevent severe problems. When a catastrophe happens, it’s essential to turn off your water shut-off valves. Calamities like earthquakes, floods, and fires can happen quickly. And by knowing how to shut off your water during an emergency, you can prevent severe damage to your home.

Water flowing uncontrollably through your house is dangerous and will instantly cause extreme damage to your home. After a disaster, your waterline might be contaminated due to the water lines that might be cracked. During an emergency, you should immediately turn off your water line and turn it back on when the authorities say that it is safe for you.

Shut-off valves could be in various areas. For example, shut-off valves can be found on a wall, in front of the house, near the water heater, in the garage, or outside near the street. Labeling your shut-off valve could be a great help as you can find it easily when you need to.

Your shut-off valve should be closed after it is fully turned clockwise. If it does not sufficiently close because it is somewhat rusty, you should talk to your technician about having it replaced.

Where to Find the Main Water Shut-Off Valve

Typically, the water shut-off valves will be near the perimeter of your house. But first, check it inside your home. It may be located in your basement or crawlspace or on the wall near the front of your house. You can also check in your garage or near your water heater.

If you weren’t able to find the water shut-off valves around the perimeter, then you should probably check also outside. Shut-off valves outside your house are typically buried underground near the street. Look for a round or rectangular metal cover flush on the grass or sidewalk. It might be labeled with “water meter” to help you identify it.

Conventional water shut-off valve designs:

Gate valve: Over the years, gate valves become very reliable, but they become tough to turn after not being turned for years. In turning off a gate valve, turn the handle clockwise. We suggest not to apply too much force while turning it as it might bend and damage the gate, or snap the valve stem.

Ball valve: A ball valve has a lever. If the lever is in line with the pipe, it means that the valve is OPEN, but if it’s perpendicular to the pipe, the lever is CLOSED. To close a ball valve, turn the lever clockwise 1/4 turn so that it’s at a right angle to the pipe.

How to check if your home has a hidden leak?

There is nothing good that comes about from a water leak in your house! Recognizing a water leak earlier can save you money and prevent a potential disaster. Here are the two most common signs that you may have a leak and should consider contacting a plumber.

Check your water meter: First, turn off your water in your home. This includes your sinks, dishwashers, and washing machines. While testing out, we suggest that you first stop using your toilet. After turning off all your water, set a toothpick on the meter at the exact location of the arm, and came back for at least 20-30 minutes to see if the meter had moved. If you see that the arm is in a different position, it means that you surely do have a leak, and there is water escaping your system.

Monitor your bill: If your water bill increases unexpectedly, but your water use habits haven’t changed, it may be due to an invisible leak. A leak is terrible in so many ways: it causes additional expenses, it wastes precious water, and it could even cause damage to your home.

Be water smart

Leaks can add about 10%-15% of your regular water use, which can result in a higher water bill than what you typically pay. Take a look at the chart below to see how much water can be wasted due to leaks. You can see it pays to detect and repair leaks early!

detect and repair leaks

What do I do in an emergency?

After a disaster happens, if you hear news about broken water or sewage lines or a water problem, you should turn off your water to prevent contaminated water from getting into your home.

Here are some points for handling water in a disaster.

  1. Never use water unless recommended by officials.
  2. Never drink cloudy water from your faucet, stream, or pond without treating it first.
  3. Never swap water for soda
  4. To use the water in your pipes after completely turning off your water, you should open the lowest faucet in your home, and get the water as it runs out.
  5. To use the water in your water heater, first, turn off the power and/or the gas. Open the drain located at the bottom of the tank, turn off the water intake valve and turn on the hot water faucet. (Make sure that you first refill your water heater tank before turning it back on)
  6. You can get drinkable water from thawed ice and liquids from canned goods.
  7. Never take water from radiators, hot water boilers, water beds, toilets, pools, or spas.

When in doubt, consult a plumber

Call Caccia plumbing at (650) 376-6800, and we will assist you and get your home back up and run after a disaster. We have professionals that deal with water damage and also provide other services for you in San Mateo.