Monthly Archives: August 2013

Finding Your Water Shut Off Valves

All homeowners and even renters should know how to shut the water off in their home in case of an emergency. This could be an entire house shut-off or just the valve for a particular fixture such as the toilet or dishwasher. When a leak or other problem arises, stopping the water at the source can prevent further water damage while you wait for the plumber to arrive and fix the problem.

- Whole house shut-off valve. Most homes have a shut-off valve for the main water supply located near the foundation in either the front or rear of the house. However, each home is different and it may also be in the basement or the garage, wherever the water main connects to the house.
- Whole house hot water valve. To turn just the hot water off to the whole house, locate the valve where the water supply enters your hot water heater.
- Individual sink valves. Each sink should have it’s own valves located directly beneath it, one for hot water and one for cold.
- Toilet shut off valves. The toilet valve is usually easy to find, usually located beneath the tank on the left side.
- Dishwasher and icemaker valves. Usually both of these valves are also under the kitchen sink. If not, check your basement or crawl space right under the kitchen.
- Clothes washer. Behind the washer, there should be two valves, one for hot water, one for cold, which connect to the main house water supply.

Make sure everyone in your home knows how to turn these valves off in case of an emergency. It could save thousands of dollars in unnecessary water damage to your home if there is a severe leak or other plumbing malfunction. Check them all periodically and have them replaced if they are not working properly.

Should Galvanized Piping Be Replaced?

If your home is fifty years or older, there is a good chance that it was built with galvanized piping in the plumbing system. These steel pipes were used because they were thought to be resistant to rust due to a zinc coating on the outside of the pipes. However, they do rust, generally from the inside out, releasing corroded metal and particles into the home’s water supply. Not only can these particles wreak havoc on appliances, they can also cause clogs, leaks and even contamination of the water for drinking. For homes that still contain galvanized pipes, it may be time to consider replacing them.

Signs That Galvanized Piping Needs Replacement
If your home still has galvanized pipes, there is a high chance that they have out lived their life span. This type of piping generally only lasts about forty years before it corrodes to the point that the pipes become clogged with the accumulation of the mineral and rusted pipe particles. Some signs that the pipes are corroded internally and need replacing:

- Decreased water pressure. As these pipes become more corroded inside, homeowners will notice a decrease in water pressure. This will continue until they finally become completely clogged with blockages, or worse, burst.
- Rust colored water. Water that is red or rust colored can be a sign of corroded galvanized pipes. Many older homes have the tell-tale rust stain on sinks, tubs and toilets.

At this point, almost any home that still has this outdated type of piping should have it replaced with either copper, brass or pvc piping. Not only can it protect appliances from expensive repairs, it is a good choice to keep drinking water safe from contamination from the corroded metal. Although it is a large expense, it will need to be done eventually, so it is better to do it before these old pipes cause additionally damage to the home, appliances and your family.