Knowing how to turn off the water means you can limit the extent of damage during a plumbing emergency, and maybe prevent it altogether. That’s why every member of your household should know how to operate the main valve.

Of course, before you can turn on and off the water, you have to know where to find the valve. Here’s your answer.

Common Places To Find The Shut-Off Valve

The main shut-off valve regulates the water supply to the entire plumbing system. This valve provides the water that lets toilets flush, clothes wash, and gardens grow. When it’s shut, the main valve stops all water to the home.

Main Water Shut-Off Valve To Plumbing System

So where is this oh-so-powerful valve? Answer: it could be anywhere! Now, before you fret, thinking you’ve wasted time reading up till now, there are some common places where shut-off valves are located, which we’ll now tell you about.

Crawl Space

The crawl space is the area beneath the ground floor. It’s labeled as such because of its height, anywhere from 3 feet to just 1 foot, which makes maneuvering by any means other than crawling a literal headache. Since it can be a pain (again, literally) to squeeze your way into the tight confines of a crawl space, you can look for the shut-off valve by opening the access point and merely peering in with a flashlight. If the water heater is in the crawl space, the main valve is usually close by it. If you don’t see it there, check directly below the kitchen sink. If you encounter difficulty accessing the crawl space, or you’re claustrophobic, don’t hesitate to ask our plumbers for assistance. Years spent kneeling under sinks and moving around crawl spaces have accustomed us to working in tight spaces.

Where Else To Look?

If you still haven’t found the shut-off valve, that just means you’re getting closer to finding it. The main valve is always placed along the perimeter of the foundation, so it’ll be near the wall, not the center of the household. It’s also usually installed at or near ground level, so you can skip checking the upstairs and attic. In most cases, the valve is connected to a copper pipe beside the water heater. Since your water heater isn’t in the crawl space, it’s probably in a utility closet on the main floor. After you’ve exhausted all options but still haven’t find the main valve, read the inspection report you got when you bought the home. It may take a few minutes to find this document, but it will diagram the valve’s location. If you absolutely can’t find the shut-off valve, or you don’t have time to look for it, calling a plumber may be your best option. Our plumbers in Ocala can intuitively locate the valve by looking at the plumbing system. And if all else fails, we can trace the water pipes to their origin.

What Does A Main Water Valve Look Like?

To find the shut-off valve, it helps to know what it looks like, so you know what to look for. There are two common styles of main water valves: gate valves and ball valves.

Gate Valve

A gate valve is a circular handle. It can be round but more commonly has six or eight nodules for better gripping. The outdoor spigots on many homes in North Florida have gate valves attached parallel to the wall. When a gate valve is used as a main shut-off valve, however, it’s orientation goes the other way: parallel to the ground. A gate valve works like a screw. As you turn the valve, the screw moves up or down, releasing more or less water through the pipe. It takes several rotations to fully open or close the valve.

Ball Valve

A ball valve has a flat metal handle wrapped in rubber and an arched bend in the front that attaches to a bolt. On the other end of the bolt is a ball with a passage through the center. A quarter turn of the handle aligns that passage with the pipe to release the flow of water. A quarter turn the other way blocks the water with the closed end of the ball.

Turning The Water Supply Off (Clockwise) & On (Counterclockwise)

Whether you have a gate or ball valve, you shut off the water supply by turning the valve clockwise and open it with a counterclockwise turn, unless instructions on the handle indicate otherwise. For a handy reminder, attach a piece of masking tape to the handle and write the directional instructions with a permanent marker.

Reasons Shutting Off The Water Comes In Handy

Knowing how to turn off the water is like having a superpower. Understanding the location and exactly how to operate the water valve allows you to mitigate the damage caused by a plumbing emergency, get repairs done faster, and even prevent leaks and ruptures to vulnerable pipes. Here are more details.

Avert Potential Disasters

A fast reaction to a burst water pipe can mean the difference between a few hundred dollars versus several thousand dollars’ worth of plumbing repairs and home restoration costs. But what happens if you’re not home to shut off the valve? Let’s say you’re on a vacation and a pipe springs a leak. The repair costs would be astronomical. Fortunately, you can guard against expensive mishaps by preemptively turning off the water supply before you leave the house for a long duration.

Mitigate Plumbing Emergencies

Water leaks and burst pipes shouldn’t be regular occurrences at your home. (If they are, it’s probably time to call a plumber in Ocala!) But if there’s a plumbing emergency  — ruptures can happen when a pipe freezes or rusts — shutting off the water supply by turning the valve clockwise will limit any mayhem caused by flooding, such as water damage and, inevitably in the Florida heat, mold growth.

Quicker Repairs

When it comes to emergency plumbing repairs, every second counts. You turning off the water supply in advance of calling us only saves time. We can certainly find the shut-off valve ourselves, but not having to take that step means we can progress more quickly with other repair work.

What To Know Before Turning On The Water Again

When the water has been turned off for a while, mineral sediments can shake loose from the drained pipes. Before you turn back on the water, remove the small screens (aerators, in plumber lingo) from the ends of each faucet. This allows the pipes to flush out any loose particles that otherwise might block the water and cause leaks or ruptures down the line. Sometimes, after a long shut-off period, water may leak around the valve after it’s been turned back on. The solution is usually as simple as tightening the nut and bolt that hold in place the handle. But if the leak persists, shut the water off again and call a plumber to inspect the valve; it may need an adjustment or replacement parts.

Plumbers with Sunshine Plumbing and Gas are experts at all plumbing components, including water shut-off valves. We not only can point out the location of the main valve in your home but if it needs work, we have the right tools and parts to deliver fast, reliable repairs. Call us for your Ocala plumbing repairs and service.