Do you know where your main water shutoff valve is?

If not, you could be headed for trouble.  Here’s why.  Water damage from pipe leaks can cause extensive damage – in the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And it can be so easily avoided – just by knowing where your main water shutoff valve is and then turning off the water at the first sign of trouble.  So here is some advice:

  1. Know where your shutoff valve is.  It is usually in the basement along the wall of the front of the house.
  2. Tag it.
  3. Show your family members where it is, in case you are not home and they are when a leak occurs and the water needs to be shut off.
  4. If you do not know where the shutoff valve is, call a plumber, who can locate and tag it.
  5. Once you know where it is, make sure you always have access to it.  For example, if you are paneling your basement, make sure there is a cut out where the shutoff valve is.
  6. Every few months or so, exercise the shutoff valve by turning it off and then on.  If it is stuck, you can try spraying it with a lubricant such as WD-40.  If that still does not work, you may need to call a plumber.
  7. The valve may also leak or even break if it has not been opened for a long period of time.  In that case you may need to have the valve replaced.  While it may cost you a few hundred dollars to replace, that is a small price to pay to protect yourself from extensive and expensive repairs.
  8. The best time to exercise your shutoff valve is on a weekday morning.  That way if you have a problem, you may be able to call a plumber and schedule a repair for the same day at normal rates, rather than emergency rates.