Your Biggest Plumbing Mistake

We often get called to emergency plumbing situations in Ann Arbor. Pipes burst, sewer lines back up, toilets overflow, and sump pumps stop pumping. All of these situations wreak havoc on a home, and usually a small bit of prevention would keep them from happening.

While we believe prevention can help you avoid most home plumbing emergencies, the biggest mistake you can make is not being prepared for when those emergencies strike.

The biggest plumbing mistake most homeowners make? Not knowing the location of and how to use the main water shut off valve.

Your Home’s Main Water Shut Off

The main shut off valve for your home is typically located in your basement or crawl space. Sometimes it can be found along a wall in your garage, or even under your kitchen sink. When turned off, it shuts down all water flowing into your home. As you can imagine, when a pipe bursts, knowing how to turn off that water flow becomes invaluable knowledge.

Using the Main Water Shut Off Valve

Once you locate the main water shut off valve, learn how to use it. Most shut off valves use either a ball valve or a gate valve. You typically won’t need any tools to turn it off.
To turn off a gate valve, you will turn the handle, or wheel, clockwise several times. Over time, gate valves may become difficult to turn due to lack of use. We recommend using the gate valve twice a year, to keep it turning easily.
A ball valve has a handle for turning it on and off. When the handle aligns with the pipe, the valve is open. To close it, turn the handle clockwise 1/4 turn so that it’s at a right angle to the pipe.
Immediately after you turn off the main water valve, turn on a tub or sink faucet to its highest level, for both hot and cold connections. This relieves the pressure in the plumbing lines, and also ensures a full shut-down. Continue to open faucets around the house to drain down the home.

After resolving the plumbing issue, you will need to turn the main water valve back on. Leave one faucet on, at the highest level. Close all the other faucets around the home. Then, slowly and partially (about ½ the way to full) turn the valve on. Listen for the “noise” to end, which means the water pressure equalized. Once the noise ends, fully open the main valve, and then turn on all faucets one at a time around your home to ensure the water is flowing properly.

When to Use Your Main Water Shut Off Valve

Homeowners typically use the main water shut off valve in two situations: while doing major plumbing repairs, and in the case of burst pipes or other water emergencies. Repairs can often be done by shutting the water off to just the localized area, but will sometimes need the whole house shut down.

Burst pipes in the house must be dealt with the moment they occur. Homeowners, who do not know the location of the shut off valve and how to use it, may wait critical minutes or even hours for a plumber to arrive. While waiting, gallons of water pour onto your walls, floors, furniture, electronics, and other valuables. Knowing how to shut off the water to the house may save you thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs because it halts the flow of water immediately, stopping any further damage to your home.

Teach Your Family to Use the Valve

After you learn how to use the main water shut off valve, we recommend teaching the rest of your family how to use it. What happens when you are not home, your spouse and kids are, and a pipe bursts? If you teach your family how to use the valve, they will be prepared to use it. Teach any other adults living in the home, as well as any teenagers who may be home alone at times, how to use the main water shut off valve.

Your home’s water supply is controlled by a single valve. Understanding how to shut off the valve in the case of an emergency may save you thousands of dollars in damage repair and restoration. Take the time this weekend learning how to use the valve, and you will feel better prepared to take care of your home in the case of a plumbing emergency.

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Michigan Power Rodding

818 Phoenix Dr
Ann Arbor, MI 48108


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