The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



Maintenance Minutes: How To Locate Your Valve Shutoffs

 January 16, 2023 |  Home Maintenance, Home Inspection, DIY, Safety |  Maintenance Minutes Series, new homeowner, first-time homeowner, plumbing

Each home is made up of a few key systems that every homeowner should be aware of. When needing to make a repair or renovations, knowledge of these systems will certainly come in handy. In the case of emergencies, it is even more important to familiarize yourself with these key systems before you need to act quickly. Water leaks have the potential to result in thousands of dollars in damage, and gas leaks can be even more dangerous. If you don’t know already, here are some quick tips for how to locate valve shutoffs for both your water line and your gas line.

Locating Your Water Line
Water lines run throughout houses, and their locations can vary considerably from house to house. One great way to set yourself in the right direction is to locate your water meter outside of your home. Near your front lawn or by the curb of your home, you should first locate the meter “box,” which can usually be identified by a dark-colored metal or plastic covering. Following that in a direct line to your house, you should find a circular water meter, likely also in your lawn.

Your water shutoff valve should be located in a direct line to your home from these items. If on ground level, the level is usually located lower to the ground. When in the basement, the shutoff valve is more likely to stand at eye level.

Water shutoff valves tend to be brightly colored for easy identification and are usually either ball valves (which look like levers) or gate valves (similar to water hoses). Ball valves are named for the stainless steel ball which turns to funnel water through a hole drilled in its center. When turning off water with a ball valve, simply turn the lever so that it is perpendicular to the piping. Turning the lever parallel will reopen the line.

Gate valves function just the same as watering hoses. Turn the wheel clockwise until the water is fully cut off in order to shut off the water supply to your home.

For warmer climates, it is important to note that the main water line may be located on the exterior of a home rather than the interior. In colder climates, these lines are most commonly located in basement spaces.

Locating Your Gas Line
To shut off gas lines, it is best to move to your individual appliances and shut off their dedicated lines as needed. Most likely, these lines will have a clearly marked red lever, usually a ball valve. Turn the valve so that it is perpendicular with the piping to turn off the gas supply.

Some situations that may warrant a need to turn off your gas are: 

  • if you smell gas 
  • if you can hear gas escaping 
  • if you see a broken line 
  • if you suspect a gas leak for some other reason

In situations where you are unsure how long a gas leak may have been unaddressed, remove yourself and your family from the location and contact your local gas company or the fire department.

After your gas lines have been deactivated, it is important to note that you will have to relight any pilot lights that have gone out. If you are uncomfortable with relighting pilot lights yourself, contact a plumber or your local gas service for further assistance.

To learn more about basic home maintenance tips, check out the rest of our Maintenance Minutes series. To schedule your annual home maintenance inspection, schedule an appointment with your local expert today!


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