Emergency shut-off valves are those little valves beneath your sinks and toilets that supply water to the fixtures. They are an important component to your plumbing system as they give you the ability to shut the water off to a leaking faucet or drain until repair can be made.
Because these valves are not used frequently, we find many times they are extremely hard to turn or are “frozen” in the open position. Or sometimes they can be closed and become “frozen” in the closed position when you try to re-open them. It is not uncommon to find older homes with no working emergency shut-off valves whatsoever.
A similar problem is the valves that control the water supply at the house service and water heater. Valves called “gate” valves were commonly used (and in some areas still are) for these purposes. They are valves with a round handle and a “stem” that pushes a “gate” down into the valve to close or raises it to open.
Our corrosive water quality in San Diego County plays havoc with these types of valves and it’s only a matter of time until the stem deteriorates and the valve becomes frozen in whatever position that is in when this occurs. A better valve to use is a “full port” ball valve. Ball valves work by using a lever handle that rotates a ball inside the faucet ¼ turn and has no “stem.” A recent innovation is ball valve angle stops and washing machine valves.
Once you’ve converted your system to ball valves, it is simple and easy to shut the water off and on at various fixtures with a simple ¼ turn of the valve with the fingertips. If you’ve ever tried to shut off a hot water angle stop, found it “frozen,” ran to the water heater and found a “frozen” gate valve, gone to the water service valve and found it “frozen,” located the water meter and found a valve that could only be closed with a “meter key” device, you’ve probably had an opportunity to meet one of your friendly local firemen.
To learn more about emergency shutoff valves in San Diego or to schedule a plumber in the North County area, call Town & Country Plumbing Repair at (760) 744-8672. We offer free estimates and a quality guarantee with all our work.