You don’t realize how much you take tap water for granted, until it becomes necessary to shut off water to your home.e
You probably know how to fix a faucet, which sometimes requires you to turn off the main water. But to avoid a real mess when tackling larger plumbing jobs in the kitchen or bath, you must learn how to shut off the water. In the event of a pipe/water emergency, knowing how to shut off the main water valve can also save homeowners the big expense of water damage.
How to Shut Off Water to Your House
Some people just don’t know because they’ve never had to turn the water off. That makes sense, so here’s how.
Check outside to locate a water meter, or beneath a metal cover on the ground. Lift the cover and look down into the hole to find the valve. When the water is on, the valve will be aligned with the pipe, pointing towards the meter. (The meter also has a metal cover to protect the glass.) Turn the valve 180 degrees clockwise. This will turn the water off.
There is also often valve inside the home, instead, that will shut off water flow; a red handle located at the base or near the water heater. Shut off the water by turning the handle clockwise.
Different Pipes Around Your House
Learn to identify the types of pipe that supply or drain water to your house. Doing so will assist you when it’s time to troubleshoot a plumbing problem.
- Copper Pipe has a high heat tolerance and is very durable. The diameter of copper pipe is rather small, and with time and oxidation, its color turns from a reddish tint to a darker brown or develops a green patina. Copper is an expensive, but extremely durable option.
- PVC or polyvinyl chloride is a hard plastic, white pipe, distinguished by markings along the length. These markings identify the temperature rating, diameter, and the type of PVC. You won’t find PVC leading to the hot water tank, for example. PVC pipe acts as drain line, leading from a sink, toilet or bathtub.
- CVPC or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride is rather flexible, and is suitable for higher temperatures than PVC. CVPC handles temperatures as high as 200 degrees, but can also be used for cold potable water systems. It looks very similar to PVC pipe, except that it is not white, but a light yellow. The manufacturer markings indicate the type of pipe.
- PEX or cross-linked polyethylene is similar to PVC as it also has identifying markings along the slightly curved pipe. PEX has been common in homes since the 1990s and is packaged in a coil; thus the curved appearance. PEX, which is extremely easy to install, comes in a variety of colors, but most often red indicates hot water supply lines, and blue designates cold. It will not rust or corrode. Not all PEX is built the same and some research shows it’s not the best for pipes where you will get drinking water.
- Galvanized steel is seldom used in today’s houses. It was popular before copper was introduced, and may be found in older homes. If your home has galvanized steel plumbing, it is most likely buried as supply lines. It isn’t rust or corrosion resistant; at least, not very. Galvanized steel has been replaced by all of the above in current home construction.
- HDPE or high-density polyethylene is durable, flexible and very resistant to corrosion. HDPE is safe for carrying drinking water, but is also useful for transporting waste and even compressed gas. Heat fusion renders the joints leak resistant.
More Specifics for Better Identification
The type of pipe that runs from your kitchen sink is made of PVC, the diameter of which is between 1 ¼ and 1 ½ inches thick.
Bathroom plumbing is most common in just forms. It includes water supply and a drain-waste-vent system that delivers waste to the septic tank or sewer system. Sewer gases are released through vent pipes.
Drain lines come in multiple sizes, For the toilet, this is 3 or 4 inches in diameter. The bathroom tub’s drain is 3 inches, while the sink’s is 1 ½ to 2 inches. Flexible hot and cold water pipes run to and from the sink and bathtub.
One Precautionary Measure
Frozen pipes aren’t a problem for Phoenix homeowners, but there are other plumbing concerns¹ that could cause water to seep throughout walls, ceilings and under the floors of your home. Leaking supply lines, eroded pipes, compromised hoses, or malfunctioning water heaters are all culprits behind mishaps.
There’s a lot going on behind the walls of any size house. Knowing the different pipes and how to turn off the water are good steps to know for simple repairs or in case of emergency to minimize damage. If you have questions or a water disaster happens, give us a call at 480-422-5949.