WHEN IT COMES TO PLUMBING KNOWLEDGE
You Should Know This 1 Thing
I’ve been in the plumbing business for decades now, so I know pretty much any plumbing tip or trick that exists. Naturally, people who aren’t plumbers won’t know everything I know, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things everyone should learn about their plumbing systems. Feb. 27 is National No-Brainer Day, and that got me thinking about some of the plumbing knowledge that should be a no-brainer to the average person. When you get down to it, the most important thing someone can know about their plumbing system is the location of their water shut-off valve. A couple of months ago, I had a client with a burst pipe below her bathroom sink. She called me to fix it, but I was about 45 minutes from where she lived. She didn’t know where her water shut-off valve was, and her entire apartment got flooded. She had to take out an insurance claim to redo the carpet and flooring in her bathroom. Before you ever have a flooding situation in your home, the water shut-off valve is the single most-important fixture you should be aware of. Just knowing where it is can save you thousands of dollars in damages. The valve could be in a few different places, depending on the layout of your home. If your house is on a concrete slab, it’s usually near the water heater. Your shut-off valve might be in your basement, and if it is, 9 out of 10 times, it will be on whichever wall faces the street. If you have a crawl space, there’s a chance you might have to crawl down there to find the valve. “Naturally, people who aren’t plumbers won’t know everything I know, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things everyone should learn about their plumbing systems.” If your shut-off valve is in the basement, I can’t stress how important it is to make a clear path to be able to get to it if you need to. I’ve had to spend 30 minutes at client’s houses just moving all the stuff they store in their basement to get to their shut-off valve. If you can find the valve and make sure it’s easily accessible, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money.
If you can’t find the valve, I have a few recommendations. One is that you get a meter key so you can shut your water off at the meter. If you can’t find the valve, you don’t have a meter key, and I’m really far away, I recommend calling the county or city water department. They’ll sometimes
get to your home faster than I can to shut off the water. Once you take care of that, give me a call and I’ll be right over to take a look at the problem.
There are a few different kinds of shut-off valves. If your house was built
within the past 10–12 years, you might have a lever valve. With this type of valve, you just have to give it a quarter turn to turn off your water. In older homes,
chances are you have a gate valve that you have to turn multiple times until it closes. If it is old and has never been turned since it’s been installed, there’s a chance it won’t completely close off your water.
If you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can shut your water off whenever necessary, Plumb Smart sells an automatic shut-off valve. It uses smart technology to send a message to your phone if it detects leaks and allows you to turn your valve off remotely. That said, I promise you that just knowing where your main shutoff valve is and how to turn it off will save you from a lot of trouble until I can get there to fix the problem.
–Pa u l Little
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