All home owners know that if anything in the home can go wrong, it will happen at the most inconvenient time. Plumbing is no exception. At your sleepiest, busiest, most tired moment, the toilet begins to overflow and no amount of jiggling of the control handle stops the water from edging toward wall to wall carpeting. It may be the sudden bursting of a pipe, or an out-of-control faucet. Such emergencies are inconvenient and can cause expensive damage if corrective action is not taken immediately. Being prepared for plumbing emergencies is as simple as 1-2-3. A few minutes of your time now could be insurance for future security, and trouble free performance of your water system.
Know Your Plumbing:Your plumbing system includes a series of emergency shutoff valves throughout the home. Find and identify them. Make a tour with a flashlight, adjustable wrench, and pliers. You should tag each shutoff valve, such as kitchen sink hot, kitchen sink cold, etc.
Kitchen Shutoff Valves: Below your kitchen sink you will probably find shutoff valves for both the hot and cold water. In some cases, the valves will be below the kitchen in the basement. Sometimes valves are installed both below the sink and also in the basement.
Bathroom Valves: Valves are provided for the lavatory, toilet, and bathtub. The lavatory valves usually are below the fixture for easy access. Tub valves can be in the basement or behind an access plate in back of the faucet controls behind the decorative cover. The toilet has a single cold water valve normally installed below the water tank. Just about all that’s left, serviced by water, is the washing machine, the dishwasher, and the hot water heater. These have shutoff valves conveniently located on or near the appliance.
Main Shutoff Valves: The water line coming in from the street is often connected to the water meter followed by a master shutoff valve for the entire home. Close this one valve and you have shut off water throughout the house; it’s instant action for serious emergencies. If you need to shut off the water at the main valve make sure the hot water tank is turned down to pilot. If you have a hot water heating system you will also need to make sure the furnace has a sufficient supply of water. (This should be checked often.) Electric hot water tanks require special attention, and it is best to enlist the aid of a plumbing and heating professional.
Vacation Safeguards: Closing the main water shutoff valve before leaving for a vacation is recommended. Emergencies do arise when the house is unattended, and a periodic visit by a neighbor is of value. If the main water supply is turned off, the hot water tank should be turned down. This appliance is equipped with a pilot control valve.