A critical home plumbing preventative maintenance issue is test the main shut off or meter valve for your home. If you cannot shut off the water to your home when you have an emergency leak or even just routine maintenance you have added to your cost and stress level. Frequently a valve will leak when you try to use it. It will either leak when you first turn it or it will leak when you turn the water back on after a repair. The following will help you determine if your main water valve or meter valve for the house is working properly. If you have a water leak in your home, many times the quickest and only way to stop it is to shut off the water to the whole house. Many times with old round handled valves the handle will not even turn at all!
It is good home maintenance to know that your main valve works BEFORE you have and emergency!
- I would strongly recommend doing this on a Monday or Tuesday morning. That way if a repair needs to be made there is plenty of time to schedule the city to shut the water off at the street and for me to replace the valve.
- Make sure no one is using water. No faucets are on, nor are any toilets in use.
- In order to turn the water off you can use one of two valves, one before the meter or the one after. I always suggest to first try the valve after the meter. This is because most of the time it can be replaced without having the city shut the water off at the street. If it is a Round handle valve, rotate clock-wise until it stops. If it has a lever handle, rotate (it will only go one way) until it is perpendicular to the pipe.
- Turn on any faucet. Many water meters have a small (about ¼ in. long) pointer or (¼ in. diameter) dial on the face of the meter. If there is any movement of the pointer/dial, the valve is not closed completely (upper left picture small red triangle, lower left picture: blue dial on the left). The newer water meters have an electronic readout (picture on the right). To activate the readout you’ll need a flashlight pointed at the tiny hole next to the tiny drawing of a flashlight. If the readout is 0.00 your meter valve is OK.
- Repeat this process with the valve between the floor and the meter. CAUTION: If this has a problem and needs to be replaced, the city needs to turn off the water at the street. The most affordable time for you to have me do this repair is a day or two after I call the city to schedule a shut-off.