Different Types of Water Shutoff ValvesA household water shutoff valve may control water flow to the entire house or to a single fixture. It’s good to know the type of each valve and its location. In the event of a plumbing emergency like a ruptured water supply line or an overflowing toilet, seconds count in getting the water turned off to minimize damage.

Main Shutoff Valve

The main household water shutoff valve is typically located where the main water line enters the house, just outside along an exterior wall. Or, it may be in the crawl space or inside the house mounted on a basement wall. Original equipment main shutoff valves in older homes are typically “gate” valves with a round handle that you rotate. This action screws a gate down to block the flow of water through the valve. In newer construction, it will more likely be a ball-style valve. This incorporates a straight handle that fully opens and closes the valve with a single 180-degree motion.

Because main shutoff valves are often very infrequently operated, mineral deposits may build up inside the mechanism. They should be tested once a year to make sure you can still shut the water off. If the valve is stuck or seems very hard to turn, don’t force it. Contact a plumber to inspect the valve.

Individual Fixtures

Known as stop valves, these are typically located very close to the individual fixture. A toilet shutoff valve is usually on the wall directly behind the toilet tank. Valves that control water to sink faucets are usually located in the space below the sink, often a cabinet.

Stop valves are typically screw type valves with a round or oval-shaped handles. Rotating the handle screws a stem with a rubber O-ring down into a valve seat, sealing off the flow of water through the valve. Like main shutoffs, these individual valves can also become stubborn over time. Check them once a year and have a plumber replace any that are sticky.

Questions or problems with a water shutoff valve in your home? Contact the experts at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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