Emergency Shutoff Valves Plumbing 101 – Step by Step

Whether you’re talking about personal safety or the integrity of your home’s structures, it is critical that you know what to do in case of an emergency. This is why shut off valves exist on many of the major appliances and systems in your home, including everything from your electricity and gas to the water that runs through your pipes. These valves were designed to provide you with a way to safeguard yourself in case anything were to happen. Without them, many things can go wrong, but they’re not going to help you if you don’t know where to find them. Familiarize yourself with the location and type of valves in your home in order to learn a bit more about them and what they can do for you.

Main and Master Valves

There are two types of shut off valves that you can find within your home – the main and master shut off valves. They are for the gas and water lines of the home. You can also shut off the gas or water to a specific appliance or area of the home through these valves.

Gas Lines

Homes with natural gas will have something known as a main shutoff valve. This is located right by the gas meter inside the home. It is known as a street side valve. It is shaped like a rectangular nub on the unit. Turning it a quarter turn will close it. A wrench must be used to turn this on and off.

The house side valve is usually the ball shaped one on the unit. It can be found where the pipe enters the house from outside. It is generally black to differentiate it from the other lines that might be running from the unit. This is the valve that many emergency personnel services want you to use rather than the street side one.

If you have a higher pressure gas system, then the valve is generally found near the furnace or water heater in the home. It is a flying saucer type of shape and it is known as the pressure regulator. You can turn the pressure off by turning this nozzle.

Water Lines

There are two shut offs for the water, one main and one to the specific pipes in the home. One should be directly before the meter and then another can be placed closer to the meter or further away, depending on the climate where you live.

In colder areas, the extra valve is usually down in a basement or somewhere inside the home. This keeps it warm when the temperatures drop. It warmer areas, it may be found in an underground box or right outside of the home.

If you’re using the city water, then there will also be a house side valve that is found on the meter. It has a round curled handle and works much like a gate valve.

Now that you have an idea of what to look for within your home, it is important to get out there and find them when the time comes. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of an accident and don’t know how to turn these main lines off. They might even be able to save a life when something happens.

Of course, plumbing emergencies can happen, no matter how well you educate yourself or how meticulously you maintain your home. When disaster strikes, your team at Tritan Plumbing is here to get all of your systems back to proper working order. Give us a call at 815-515-4062 at any time of the day or night.


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