Check your main shut-off valve

Do you have a main water shut-off valve inside your house?  It’s a code requirement, so you probably do.  But if for some reason you don’t have one, I recommend getting one installed.  It makes it easy to shut off the water to repair or replace toilet valves, washer hoses, sink faucets and supply lines, etc.

Mine looks like this.  I access it from a trap door in a closet.  

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Do you turn off the main shut-off when you go on vacation?  I recommend it.  It’s peace of mind that you won’t come home to a flooded house if a washer hose bursts, pipes freeze or some other unplanned catastrophe occurs.

Can you easily access your main shut-off valve, or is it behind a locked door, accessible only by ladder, or otherwise barricaded by stuff?  If so, I recommend clearing a path and making it quickly accessible.  That way, if there is a water emergency, such as a burst pipe or hose, you can quickly stop the flow.

The next important question is:  Is your main shut-off valve this type?

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If so, I recommend replacing it, and here’s why.  It will break.

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Recently, I turned the water off at the shut-off, so I could replace a toilet valve.  With the toilet valve easily replaced, I re-opened the shut-off valve.  Unexpectedly, the shut-off valve handle came off in my hand, and water started pouring into the space under my house. 

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Miraculously, I got the handle back on and the valve closed.  Murphy’s Law dictated that this would happen on a Sunday afternoon.  No plumbers were available.  I went all night without running water, worrying that the shut-off would fail.  Thankfully it didn’t.  The plumber got here first thing in the morning and replaced the valve.  He replaced it with a quarter-turn ball valve.

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This is the type of shut-off I had always wanted, but didn’t realize I should have gone ahead and gotten the replacement.  The total cost was $150.  The plumber rolled his eyes at the round handle type and said “they all fail”.

With the quarter-turn ball valve, my peace of mind is restored.  If I want to replace a faucet, or go on vacation, a simple turn of the shut-off valve is all it takes to turn the water off to the entire house.


Not all water can be so easily turned off.  I’m speaking of all of the rain we are getting here in the Arkansas River region.  Our banks, reservoirs and ditches are full, and we are sending the excess on to Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Sorry ’bout that, neighbors to the south.

Bridges are still doing okay in my area, but some streets and paths, not so much.  Parts of our river bike/walk path has been submerged.  When the water recedes, in some spots the path has washed away with it.

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‘Some’ are enjoying it.  Others like me are spending a lot of extra effort on cleanup.  Sigh.

8 thoughts on “Check your main shut-off valve

  1. I read this yesterday…I checked the basement but couldn’t find anything…the search is still on… I know we have a main valve hidden near our house in the woods which you need a tool to turn off…we had to turn it off when our kitchen flooded one time. We had to call the previous owners to find it.

    I got new respect for flooding after 2010 in Nashville…Even houses that were flooded for a short amount of time were ruined.

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    1. Oh wow, good luck finding it. I bet you can have a second shut off installed in the house, for quick and easy access. Shouldn’t cost too much. That’s up to you, of course. I couldn’t imagine being without one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it is…a lot of people didn’t have flood insurance and lost everything. Pipes busting (like we had) was covered but not flooding.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Know all about destructive flooding — I live in the Houston area. My house was thankfully spared the wrath of Harvey in 2017, but many of my friends’ houses were not. Thank you for the info about main shut off valves. Mine is outside, just under the kitchen window.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Harvey was so destructive. I’m glad your house came out okay. Good you know where your shut off is. I suppose in Houston, it can be outside without fear of freezing in the winter. That would be handy.

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